An atheist gives $100.00 to an American Baptist Church sponsored mission in Muskogee, Oklahoma only to have that money be rejected. A children’s home rejecting money creates quite a bit of press with a Go Fund Me attracting other atheists, secularists and some Christians angry that this this Baptist Ministry acted the way they did. This post reminds us that discrimination against atheists and skeptics is still a serious issue.
“Well this Christian is willing to an Atheist his money for a good cause.”
Wade Prather in Go Fund Me
“We atheists care about people just as much as any theist. Kuddos to you for doing the right thing and helping these children!”
Laura Maurer in Go Fund Me
“Hello! I am a Christian and former social worker. I think the donation was a wonderful act of charity, and the children deserved the funds you offered. The man who rejected your donation failed to understand the proverb of the Good Samaritan; he refused to accept your charity because it would mean “the atheists” are his neighbors. Well guess what? You’re my neighbor. Have a fantastic day, and thank you for your generosity.”
Laura Melouf in Go Fund Me
“I’m angry that I know more about their damn religion than they do!”
Greta Christina at the 2012 Reason Rally
The Ongoing Issue of Evangelical Christian Discrimination Against Atheists
Writing about Fellowship Memphis has been front and center here at this blog but I learned of an atheist story out of Oklahoma and put it on the pile of articles to write about. Of all the articles I get to pen the ones I enjoy the most have to deal with the atheist, secular or non-theist movements. There is so much to understand theand I love to learn. The reason why I like to write about this issue is for a couple of reasons. The first is that I went through a very painful faith crisis where I pushed back from Christianity for several years and proclaimed myself as an agnostic. I read and consumed so much atheist material I never knew what I was going to do with it. But there is another issue related to the atheist community that is near and dear to me, and its this topic. I am deeply concerned and upset with all the discrimination that many atheists have to deal with and are subjected. Its my goal as a committed Christian to challenge my camp to be better and to call it out when I see it. I am determined to write about this issue as it occurs and to cover and report on it . For a better understanding of this topic I would like to refer you to an article I wrote a while back called, “The Issue of Christian Discrimination Against Atheists.” But this is a serious issue and its one that needs attention called to it, and its one of the goals of this blog.
Matt Wilbourn, Murrow Indian’s Children’s Home and Atheism
Muskogee, Oklahoma is a small town about 45 minutes south of Tulsa. It is in eastern Oklahoma and has a population of about 39,000. Located in the city is a Christian ministry called Murrow Indian Children’s Home. The executive director of this ministry is Betty Martin. The Murrow Indian Children’s Home takes in Native American children dealing with neglect and/or abuse. The Murrow Indian Children’s Home has been open for over 100 years from what I have been reading. The Murrow Indian Children’s Home is affiliated with the American Baptist Convention which is headquartered out of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
On August 22, 2016 a staffer from the Murrow Indian Children’s Home came to the workplace of Matt Wilbourn. Over the past few years Matt’s company has printed programs for their charity drives for free as an act of goodwill. This year Matt was told by his employer that they would not be providing that service for the Murrow Indian Children’s home. That disappointed Matt as he knew what the home has done for abused and neglected children. So to support those children Matt decided to make a $100.00 donation on behalf of the atheist group he runs. He thought the organization would appreciate the money and that it would help offset their difficulties. On the form he wrote that the donation is in behalf of the “Muskogee Atheist Community.” The staffer took the donation and said, “God bless you” and walked away. That was all Matt thought would happen.
About an hour later Matt received a phone call and was told that they couldn’t accept the donation because it went against everything they believed in. The employee asked Wilbourn if he could change the name of the donation so that the group could still accept the money. Wilbourn refused to do so and the Murrow Indian Children’s Home rejected the money. Matt and his wife Kelli after speaking to their atheist group decided they didn’t want the money back and instead decided to give more. They changed the money to $250.00 and it was later rejected by the Murrow Indian Children’s Home for the same reason. So they decided to see how much money would the Murrow Children Indian Home reject. A Go Fund Me was started shortly thereafter, it was decided that any money is rejected would go to Camp Quest. (BTW….writing and researching about them is also on my agenda) The American Baptist Churches issued a statement of support for Murrow turning down the money. This made a lot of publicity not just in Oklahoma but also the United States. Here is but a sampling of articles you can read:
- Christian Home Suns Atheist Dollars (Daily Beast)
- Children’s home denies donation from atheist group; group starts GoFundMe to raise additional funds (KJRH Tulsa)
- Muskogee children’s home refuses donations from atheist group (Fox 23)
- Christian-Run Children’s Center Rejects Atheist’s Group Huge Donation (Huffington Post)
There has also been discussed on many atheist blogs. To get their perspective you can read about this on The Friendly Atheist, The Free Thinker, and Oklahoma Atheists. Meanwhile The Go Fund Me took off and in the end raised $28,280. What I found encouraging is that many upset Christians gave money to their cause. I grabbed a few comments to use as quotes as the introduction to this post.
My Personal Anger Over the Situation
When I read what this American Baptist Home did and I saw this in my news feed my blood pressure soared with anger. There are several things that bothered me deeply. I was angered that a home that helped neglected and abused children would reject such money. In the end they just didn’t insult and hurt Matt Wilbourn they also hurt the children they claimed they wanted to help. What this missionary home should have done is just accepted the donation and moved on. Why did they have to make such a big deal? Not just that but the other thing that got my attention is this issue. Does this Baptist supported mission understand the parable of the Good Samaritan? Do they understand what is taught in that lesson? Also do they understand that they are in the wrong in this situation and not Matt Wilbourn? I remember when I went to the Reason Rally here in Washington, D.C. in March 2012. Greta Christina gave a talk about why atheists are so angry, and in that talk she said that she gets angry because many atheists know the Christian religion better than many Christians. This situation in Oklahoma really confirms that fact. Plus what happens after the fact? The American Baptist Church and the Murrow Indian’s Children home digs in. They can’t say, “we screwed up…” No they have to turn it into a much bigger ordeal. In the end they do not look good and I am left wondering as to what they really do? The American Baptist Church and Murrow Indian’s Children Home need to say we screwed up and admit their error. That is the first thing they need to do. Matt Wilbourn needs to hear an apology and the Murrow Indian’s Children Home needs to do the right thing. Its profoundly sad and angering that they chose to act in this way. A lot of evangelical Christians create their own messes and this is a good example that illustrates that fact. In the end this was so needless and so unnecessary. I am also disappointed that the Go Fund Me is over as I would have loved to have promoted that and given a couple of dollars. I am grateful that there are some Christians who supported the Go Fund Me campaign, as that is the right thing to do. One thing I want to do is get up an open letter to Matt Wilbourn and apologize for how he was treated. This entire situation made by blood pressure soar as I became livid. This post is being emailed to the American Baptist Church as well as the Murrow Indian Children’s Home. As I close this post out I am going to throw up some Pink. Please know that I love you guys, and take care!