Humanistic Missionaries
Posted: 24 February 2009 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Do any of you know of organizations that send non-career “missionaries” (i.e. relief workers) on short-term assignments to areas of need around the world (on a low-cost basis)?

Back when I was involved in the church (Baptist), the leaders would often help laypeople take short-term mission trips. This often helped the laity become more deeply involved in the mission of the church. Psychologically, this method helped bond members even more strongly with the organization (i.e. the church).

It seems that the secular humanist movement could benefit by aligning their cause with relief efforts that would both help the suffering and help provide humanists with a positive experience.

Any thoughts?

Personally, I would welcome the opportunity to (cheaply) travel to a developing country to help out in any way I can but I only see religious options available.

Thanks.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’d also be interested in what explicitly charitable works freethinkers are doing as part of promoting freethought.

Religious groups are famed for such work, and we get “Where are your hospitals, where are your soup kitchens” a lot, even if such work is a small part of a church/synagogue/mosque/temple’s operating costs.  Most freethought groups barely take in enough funding to send out a newsletter or rent meeting space, never mind implementing more general community projects.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It sounds like there is a possible niche for secular humanitarianism (a coming together of several organizations for the purpose of alleviating world suffering).

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Posted: 25 February 2009 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I know that the Atheist Centre in India did tsunami relief in 2004:

http://www.positiveatheism.org/tocindia.htm#TSUNAMI
“Vijawawada, very near the east coast of India (ESE of Hyderabad), is too far inland
to have been affected by the tsunami. As is typical in India, the city has mobilized
in support of the relief effort. For example, workers at the Genting Lanco Kondapalli
Power Project agreed to include a day’s salary in a package sent by the company
itself, said a press release. Some indicate that charity is a way of live in many parts
of this country where abject poverty wields its scepter. Atheist Centre has long been
among the first to arrive on the scene of the floods and other tragedies that frequently
cripple various parts of southern India, and Atheist Centre’s volunteers are never afraid
to “get their hands dirty” when addressing the truly ugly aspects of natural disaster,
where human need transcends religious and political loyalty. On many occasions, the
Atheist Centre has shown that human compassion can likewise transcend the same
boundaries.”

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Posted: 25 February 2009 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I guess in the final analysis, I’m just looking for a future opportunity like those offered to local church members — a chance to alleviate world suffering personally without having to do so under a specifically religious aegis.  I suppose I would appreciate the depth of world suffering best by experiencing it firsthand rather than watching video on a Web site or listening to another speaker.

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Posted: 25 February 2009 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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A very fine secular group is the International Rescue Committee, which has some developing-world volunteer opportunities (see the bottom of http://www.theirc.org/help/volunteering.html ).

Maybe you could get the freethought groups of your choice to sponsor you as a special project.  They’d gain from the publicity and you would get a service opportunity without having to support a religious group or institution.

(By the way, love the Strong Bad avatar.  I never though of him as a doo-gooder till now.)

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Posted: 25 February 2009 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks. That link is exactly what I’m looking for.

If laughter is a good, Strong Bad is a force of good in a world filled with the inanities of Homestar Runners.

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