An Open Letter to Matt Wilbourn (Muskogee Atheist Community)

An open letter to Matt Willbourn of the Muskogee, Oklahoma atheist community. This letter thanks Matt for his generosity and his compassion and as brothers in humanity I want to stand with him as he was discriminated against by both the Murrow Indian Children’s Home and the American Baptist Church. Both of those organizations needs to read the parable of the Good Samaritan and their behavior illustrates that Greta Christina is correct in this instance. Many atheists can and often know the Christian faith better than many Christians.  

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

Calvin Coolidge

***Quick edit, I wrote about this story the other day and planned to follow up with an open letter which I did today***


This is a crazy blog with so many projects going on but I wanted to stop and write you an open letter and from the depths of my heart thank you for the denotation to the Murrow Indian Children’s Home.  I have a lot I want to say and I would like to do that in this open letter. I have a number of emotions and anger which will come out in this letter so it may be rough, but its my reaction to this outrageous situation.

Matt what happened to you was wrong. It was wrong of the Murrow Indian Children’s Home to reject your money. Your motives were beautiful and I strongly support them. In this situation this organization is clearly in the wrong and I believe you and your atheist organization are owed an apology. But here is the thing  that is profoundly sad. Its highly unlikely you will get one from the parties who owe you one. Its what makes many parts of Christianity in the United States a sheer joke. The organization which is in the wrong should clearly give you an apology and I hope this open letter will prompt them to do so. The bullshit they pulled on you is over the top, outrageous and out of line. However, as I believe the American Baptist Church nor the Murrow Indian Children’s Home will do the right thing I want to approach you and seek your forgiveness on their behalf and on behalf of the Christian faith. I am outraged over what happened and livid that you were treated in such a way. What you did was noble, kind and living. What you did in trying to give money to the Murrow Indian Children’s Home was well intentioned.

This sad story also reveals another serious and ongoing issue in Christianity today, and its this point. Many Christians engage in discrimination against atheists and non theists today and treat them in terrible ways. Its awful and its horrific. I learned quite a bit through my faith crisis to where I would experience that issue myself. Its part of the reason why I write about it. Christians should not be known for hate, discrimination or so many other issues. Instead they should be known for love. But good luck trying to find that in many churches today. The existence of this blog illustrates the very dysfunctional and intrinsic problems in evangelical Christianity today.  But the ongoing issue of discrimination against atheists and skeptics really needs to be challenged and called out. That is one of the goals of this blog and why I will call it out and write about it as I see it. It is the reason who I wrote about your situation Matt.

But here is the other thing that I find sad and true. In March of 2012 I attended the Reason Rally here in Washington, D.C. When I was there I listened to Greta Christina speak and in her talk she spoke about how she was tired of knowing religion better than many Christians. And you know what Matt…she is correct. Greta Christina is correct. There are many atheists and skeptics who know the Christian faith far better than many professing Christians. I know, because I talk to them and I get their emails from places like Minnesota, New Mexico, and other parts of the United States. Why is it that many parts of Christianity can’t say , “You know what Greta Christina is right about that..” Is it pride? Is it arrogance? Is it self righteousness? While I agreed with Greta Christina then as someone in a faith crisis today as I a Christian I still agree with her on that point. Many Christians don’t know what they believe and are lazy. Many parts of evangelical Christianity lack intellectualism and what Mark Noll wrote in the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind has largely been validated and confirmed with time.

Here is the other thing that bothers me deeply about what happened, and I never would have imagined I would be asking this question. Today I am left asking what is the goal with those neglected and abused children in the Murrow Indian Children’s Home? Is the goal to take care of them? Or are there other motives in play. The reason why I ask is because of how they rejected money in the end from you Matt. If they honestly cared for the children they should have accepted the money. Even if they wanted to teach the kids about God which in my case I support, they still should have accepted the money. My question today is this…are they using the children for other means? Are they using the children to raise money? Can one ask for an accounting of this money that has been given over the years? Can every dollar and every penny be accounted for if this place is audited? I am asking these questions out loud. $100.00 is such a small amount of money to make a big stink over.

Another thing I would like to say you to Matt is I want to thank you for your concern and your giving money to children. One thing that I found encouraging is that in the Go Fund Me campaign there are a number of Christians who came to your support and gave money. That is to be recognized and I hope the atheist community acknowledges that as well. Some of those people who supported you most likely would have received hell from their own churches or people they know. But I just want to point out that we are not all like Pat Robertson or John Piper. But I commend your support for the children as that shows your civil engagement and how you are a model citizen. It reveals your love for humanity and your compassion for people which I believe you are to be commended for. You do not have to be a Christian to be kind, loving, generous, or compassionate. That can also be traits of the human race. But I want to again say thank you for your generosity.

Please note I am not here to proselytize or convert you. I am just wanting to convey my deepest sorrow over how you were treated. If you ever make it out to Washington, D.C.  or if I for some reason find myself in Oklahoma (which is very unlikely by the way) I would love to hang out with you, grab a drink and talk. And if that ever happens I would like to seek your forgiveness in person. I just see an incredible wrong that was committed and I would like to see it turned into a right. But I would love to hang out and get to know you if that opportunity ever arose. But on behalf of those organizations will you please accept my apologies for how they acted. Thank you for doing what is right and again thank you for contributing the money out of the goodness of your heart.

Very Respectfully,

David Bonner

PS – Thanks to Albuquerque Blue for the music below, if you bump into him wish him a Happy Birthday!



6 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Matt Wilbourn (Muskogee Atheist Community)

  1. You asked ” My question today is this…are they using the children for other means? Are they using the children to raise money?” I don’t think raising money is what they are focused on, I think they are using the children’s home to show off their piety to each other. “See our good works! See how we are using the misfortune of these children to evangelize them! Look what good Baptists we are!” And they are using their very public rejection of the money from us “Samaritans” as a part of this show of piety.

    I think a certain rabbi they are fond of quoting had something to say about this attitude:

    “1. Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt 6:1-4)

    .”..I want to approach you and seek your forgiveness on their behalf and on behalf of the Christian faith.”

    This statement from you puzzles me, though. You did nothing to wrong Matt Wilbourn, on the contrary, you have stood up for him and called the American Baptist Church out on their wrongdoing. You’re doing it right. And “The Christian faith” didn’t wrong him either, it was one group of self-centered Baptist people who did that. I don’t think you need to apologize for anything, or be forgiven for anything in this case. And I don’t think forgiveness for the Baptists is warranted unless the people who rejected the money apologize to Matt personally, and try to make it up to him. Forgiveness needs to be earned.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your comment I appreciate it! Sorry it took me some time to respond to as I am juggling a lot behind the scenes. I see what you are saying about forgiveness, and I can understand. My concern is that Matt was wronged and I would like to see him receive an apology by the Baptists in question. As much as I hope for that to happen my experience with some of these types has me doubtful. I would like to have him receive an apology for the way he was wronged. You are right I have done nothing wrong and stood up for him, but I also would like to see him be treated with the respect and dignity that he deserves. But maybe what I should do is write a post that can tag and follow the websites for the organizations in question! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!


  2. David, I love how you shared your thoughts & feelings with Matt, and bam on not having ulterior motives to convert him. Another case in “stupid is as stupid does” their actions are mind boggling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mr. Bonner,

    Thank you for your kind words and support. I accept your apology and I feel that this whole matter was based on one bad decision by maybe one or two people collectively at the Murrow Home. The mere fact that a person of faith is in full support of someone like myself just goes to show you that there are still good people on both sides of the fence in this world.
    I not only accept your apology but I will also accept your offer to have a drink. It may be an offer that you would like to retract though because my wife and I know how to have a good time….usually at the expense of our livers. Thanks again to you and all who supported the Muskogee Atheist Community.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt, thank you for the kind words. I was deeply troubled by what happened. One thing that personally upsets me is the issue of discrimination against atheists by
      Christians. Its a major problem and something I want to call out and continue to call out. I hope we can meet one of these days and together we can all abuse our liver to some fine alcohol. If I remember correctly Christopher Hitchens liked Johnny Walker Black. Maybe we can get together and bleed my wallet dry in some good conversation. Thanks for the comment.


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