We recently posted a video from The Happiness Heroes showing a little girl who was moved to create bags for children in need within the foster care system.
It wasn’t long before more than one person commented something to the affect of: “You had me until the Bibles.”
The girl in the video, who was adopted herself and had recently donated her allowance to help her neighbors after a storm, was giving toys, toothpaste, and other items to children in need. However, she was also including Bibles in these bags, apparently encouraged to do so my her mother, who can be heard coaching her daughter on the importance of the Bible in the audio of the video itself. None of that is particularly surprising. Many religions encourage service and giving. And many parents work to impart their values in their children. What did surprise us was the reaction to the video when we shared it.
For some people, that “agenda” seemed to trump the idea that this little girl, at such a young age, was inspired to go out there and help people, to do something good for others. Some people were so turned off by the inclusion of Bibles that it took away from the goodness of the act itself. That got us thinking.
It is true that some people, historically speaking, have taken advantage of those in vulnerable situations and used their charity work to push an agenda on those they’re helping. It is true, but it is certainly not always true, and it most likely is not the norm. And while religion has contributed to many of the atrocities of this world, it is also responsible for a lot of good — like most things and most people, rarely is anything all good or all bad.
In a way, it’s no different from corporate philanthropy. If PepsiCo funds a clean water program somewhere, chances are, they are going to stamp their logo on it or otherwise share that contribution. Does that make it any less good? That these people have clean water, but it’s “branded?” Is it better to have no clean water at all? We think not. And in the case of this little girl, or any religious organization that goes out on missions to do good, where do we draw the line? If their motivation is to do service in the name of their God, isn’t the contribution ‘still’ good? We think so.
We can imagine cases where an “agenda” can be a bad thing, including imposing religious doctrine as a condition of aid. For example, trying to feed the homeless in a soup kitchen where they’re forced to listen to a sermon while they eat crosses a boundary, in our eyes. There is nothing wrong with the meal, or the sermon. It’s the obligation that oversteps, in our opinion.
At GozAround, we welcome organizations of all sorts, whether they’re unaffiliated with a religion or whether they’re Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, or rooted in any other kind of faith. For us, the bottom line is always the positive impact. We encourage organizations that are ethical, transparent, and thoughtful about their approach to please, use GozAround as a way to raise awareness for your cause, gather donations, attract volunteers, and more. If you’re a nonprofit with no religious affiliation, the same values and rules apply, as does the joy we have to be able to include you as part of our social good network. Who are we to judge the theological or secular motivations of someone genuinely doing good or giving back?
What do you think?
Even if you don’t personally believe in a religion, or if you have felt ‘wronged’ by people with religious motives or beliefs before, is it possible to look past the label and only see the kindness? Or do you believe all charitable organizations should be non-religious in order to avoid alienating those who don’t believe?
Can we still appreciate a good thing, if it’s done in the name of Pepsi or Coke or another brand? The name of Allah, Jesus or any other religious entity? Or does any affiliation rob the good deed of something you believe is inherent in giving back?
We want to hear what you think about this, so please comment with your experience on Facebook, send us a message, or Tweet at us!