Are there any atheist service organizations that help the poor and homeless?

I was in Rotary the other night listening to a presentation by a local Methodist pastor about his multiple outreach programs for the homeless and disadvantaged individuals and families, and how many of the local churches (not just Methodist) support this effort with funds and facilities.

I’m not very religious, but I have to admit the time and effort he and his supporters put into this outreach effort was very impressive and spoke well of their caring and humanity. Are there any predominantly atheist organizations that do this sort of thing?

Would an organisation that is simply not religion-based count?

No, there are dozens of secular charities that include all types of people. I’m looking for a charitable/outreach group that specifically identities itself as atheist in some form or fashion.

I brief Google search doesn’t turn up anything. However, that’s not surprising. Atheism is the lack of belief – it’s not exactly something to rally around. There are many charitable institutions that do not reference any god – why is it important to find ones that specifically denies them? Such an organization would be eliminating a lot of potential donors by taking such a stand.

That’s my take as well. I wouldn’t want to belong to an Atheists club any more than I’d belong to a group that was organized around not believing in pixies. On the other hand, I might join a group that advocated religious freedom or separation of church and state.

The Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort is one such example.

My University’s Atheist and Agnostic Society does support a lot of humanitarian causes, like raising funds for the homeless. I would guess this sort of thing would be more common with the young a and idealistic nonbelievers.

This is what I would expect to be the norm more than sinusoidal’s college campus group. There are political organizations, yes, the strive to ensure the separation of church and state etc., but there aren’t very many community groups. Why would there be? Church groups hang out together because they have a cultural bond through the church. I may very well have not a wit in common with an atheist other than a disinterest in religion.

My family has always been involved in volunteer programs, we were raised agnostic, and my fiancee’s family atheist/agnostic are heavily involved in charity/volunteer programs too. We all just choose secular-based programs or community groups. My sister has done a tone of work for the homeless through some of the GLBT organizations in town.


Nah, we old and idealistic nonbelievers work plenty hard in our communities too. Only it’s not about getting angel points, it’s about social responsibility and being a good member of a civilised society.

On the flip side, there aren’t any atheist terror organizations.

What about Red Brigades, Red Army Faction, Baader-Meinhof Gang, Japanese Red Army, etc. Although to be fair, Sailboat used the present tense and I believe the groups mentioned are currently defunct.

Were any of those groups explicitly atheist, specifically disavowing a believe in god? Because that definition would parallel astro’s interest in a charity that helps the poor and homeless and also specifically talks about not believing in god. Non-religious charities weren’t good enough, so non-religious terrorists shouldn’t count either.

IMHO, this answers your question. “Secular” means: of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; not pertaining to or connected with religion. I donate to secular charities and take part in outreach programs that are done through non-religious community groups. To devote my time to an organized group, I would need to be motivated by something I care about, I don’t actually care if anyone else is agnostic or not, so as BoyoJim entioned upthread, a lack of belief really isn’t a good, sticky, rallying point. I don’t like tomatoes, but I’m not anti-tomato. I don’t particulalry care enough about it to join a group of people who don’t eat tomatoes. Religion has no relevance to me. Joining the No Relevance Bandwagon doesn’t appeal.

Atheist/agnostic/skeptic groups around here are mostly either political in nature, or they are discussion groups about various aspects of secular ethics, science, and/or philosophy. But looking up local groups, the Freethought Association of Canada has does community services, and the Centre for Inquiry does community voulnteering as well. There are also a ton of campus groups here that also do volunteering as a part of being good citizens, but mostly they are discussion groups.

Why would that be relevant? Atheism is not a movement, or a cause or an ideology. Atheists have no reason to identify themselves as such when they do charity work, because they have no higher idological or religious agenda.

It should also be noted, incidentally, that a lot of atheists give money and time to established religious charities.

It’s arguable that North Korea, and maybe even China, fit this bill.

Well, they were specifically Communist which is, I believe, holds atheism as a tenet, but IANACommunist (although I am an atheist).


I’d say it’s equally arguable that North Korea worships a God named Kim Il-sung/Kim Il-Jong.

I just wanted to quote this, because it needs to be said again and again.
Atheism is not a cause that is rallied around. It is a lack of belief. Plenty of atheist volunteer at shelters and kitchens, but most of them do it on their own. We are not big on the “Team Player” concept.

Kiva allows you to let your microloan “count” towards a certain lending team . A sort or charity competetion, if you wil.
I let half of my loans count towards the Dutch Lending Team, and half towards the Kiva Lending Team: Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious.

But see? That’s the problem. To actively disavow a belief, you still have to be engaged enough in the idea for it to be something you disavow. If something is utterly meaningless to you, it’s not even going to be enough of a blip on your radar to merit some kind of disavowal.

Think of asking the question: “Are there any groups - that specifically disavow Ewoks - that provide community services like feeding the homeless?” Disavowing Ewoks doesn’t come up much for people who don’t ever think about them.

The answer to the OP is that there are heaps of secular organizations that are devoted to everything from providing clean drinking water to impoverished nations, to providing food and shelter to the local homeless. You’re not going to find a whole lot of non-political groups that “self-identify” as atheist, simply because theism itself just isn’t pertinent to who they are or what they do. It doesn’t mean anything to them, so it doesn’t come up.

You don’t typically have people or organizations identify themselves as the “absence of something else”. E.g./ I don’t self-identify as “non-Australian” because that wouldn’t actually mean anything or describe me in any useful way.

Yes, this is what I meant when I said China and N Korea, though I should have specified their governments. Communist govt’s, AFAIK, are all explicitly atheistic (though I’ll bet there’s an exception somewhere to prove the rule). Likewise, I’m confident there have been some terrorist communist organizations, the dregs of which may still exist in a few dark places.

However, none of them have practiced terrorism specifically in furtherance of atheism, AFAIK.