Is Atheist Money Too Controversial for the American Cancer Society?

The American Cancer Society may have turned down a potential half-million dollar donation because it came from a non-theistic organization.

I’ll say this clearly, right up front: The American Cancer Society did not explicitly reject a massive donation offer from a non-theistic organization on the basis of it being a non-theistic organization.

That was not the stated reason given for rejecting a matching offer of $250,000 from the Foundation Beyond Belief and the Todd Stiefel Foundation to sponsor a national team in the upcoming Relay for Life. (An offer that, as a matching offer, was likely to bring in a total of half a million dollars for the American Cancer Society.) Nobody at the ACS has ever said, in words, “We don’t want our organization to be associated with atheists. It’s too controversial. We don’t want atheist money.” And when asked if this was the case, they have denied it.

It’s just difficult to reach any other conclusion. In the place of clear explanations, there has been an ongoing series of evasions, imprecisions, conflicting answers, moved goalposts, apathy, and even hostility.


Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, Is Atheist Money Too Controversial for the American Cancer Society? To find out more, read the rest of the piece.

Oh, and a quick heads-up about the AlterNet gig to new readers of this blog: I write regularly for the online political magazine AlterNet, usually every two weeks. I typically link to the pieces when they’re first published, and then reprint them about a week later here in my own blog. Also, AlterNet is an excellent magazine, but the comment threads are often, shall we say, challenging. Just so you know. Enjoy!

Is Atheist Money Too Controversial for the American Cancer Society?

4 thoughts on “Is Atheist Money Too Controversial for the American Cancer Society?

  1. 1

    One key issue is the other, current, non-corporate entities that have national teams for Relay for Life. As both you and Hemant have pointed out, there are currently a handful of other teams. Will these teams disappear? Do they know that they are being phased out? What’s going on with these groups? I wonder if there’d be some way to talk to someone at any of these other groups, like the Girl Scouts; if we could talk to the person who deals with the American Cancer Society at one of these other organizations, maybe we could get some answers. If these groups are continuing to be allowed to participate, then certainly this is fishy, and clearly some sort of anti-atheist sentiment. It’s just so weird…just about every case of anti-atheist sentiment that we see has been clear anti-atheist sentiment. If this has to do with the religious values of the American Cancer Society, or their fear of offending the religious values of others, why won’t they just say so? That’s what’s really annoying, if this is a case of anti-atheist sentiment, that they’re too scared to even admit it! Again, if somehow this isn’t about atheism, then okay, let’s just move on. But otherwise, how spineless of them to just not clearly admit what is going on! They have an obligation to be honest to all of us!

  2. 4

    They have been denying gay groups as well. At least in the cases I heard of, at least they flat out told them the truth (that some internal guys objected to them and said it may cause controversy).

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