Several of the SECULAR Center’s (www.secularcenterusa.org) supporters in Houston have asked about volunteering at a nursing home or senior center. Today I called a nursing home in the Westchase area to ask about volunteer opportunities. The volunteer director I spoke with, a woman, asked about our group. I told her that we were a group of non-theists who volunteer at different locations around Houston. She commented to me that most of the people at her nursing home were Christians.

To read more, go to www.secularcenterusa.blogspot.com.

Noelle Dildine, President
SECULAR Center
"Godless for Good"
www.secularcenterusa.org

Tags: discrimination, houston, secular, texas, volunteer

Views: 17

Replies to This Discussion

Hope this gets worked out and keep up the good works!
I think what you are doing is wonderful!
If the purpose of Volunteering at the Old Age Home was to help the seniors then why tout the fact that you are an Atheist organization which is neither here nor there. It is irrelevant to the task of Volunteering so I have to question the motive for the person who called bringing it up.

Did the Atheist Group merely want to stir up controversy by being discriminated against? It sounds reasonable to me that a private nursing home full of predominantly christian old timers who have maybe months, weeks, days and sometimes even hours to live would not want a group of bold faced atheists in there possibly upsetting the residents with suggestions that the only comfort they have left in this world is nothing but bullshit. That they aren't going to heaven as they believe but just to the grave like everyone else. I am an atheist, but let me tell you there are Atheists that I would not want anywhere near some of my old religious relatives.

They have lived their lives, and are near the end, so let them have their harmless delusion which brings them some measure of comfort in their last days. Do not so wickedly deprive them of it, and do not try to make political hay out of the fact that the Nursing home had the good common sense to forsee the potential for harm to the residents in their care by letting in who knows how strident an Atheist group.

Now not every Atheist would feel the compelling need to deconvert the pre-dead but it is a group, not an individual so can you imagine "The Amazing atheist", or Capt Oawsome (sp) or some of those over the top YouTube Atheists helping to feed or diaper some old great great granny in a seniors care home. No thanks, and I applaud the home for protecting those old timers.
"It is irrelevant to the task of Volunteering so I have to question the motive for the person who called bringing it up."

To me it's meant as a message to correct misrepresentations of Atheists (evil, selfish, immoral baby eaters). To demonstrate that we too care. Many Christian organizations help support communities for altruistic reasons. However, they at the same time bring their "brand name" ex: Church of United Myth Believers or whatever. I think it's important that we bring our "brand name".

I think it would be awesome to have like a food drive and donate it to a food bank stating this comes from caring atheists of America. Would they actually turn down the food?

Now in the situation mentioned by Noelle, if after discussions with the Administrator they still deny the assistance, I wouldn't push any further. Screw them. There must be others who could use volunteers.
"To me it's meant as a message to correct misrepresentations" Yes Louis it may have been for that purpose. If it was then that is a political purpose! It is a propaganda purpose, and not a purely altruistic purpose.

Now a group propagandizing is fine in my opinion, but not at the expense of those faithers who are on deaths doorstep. Let the group make political statements in other ways but lay off the oldsters.

Now if individuals from the group had volunteered at the Seniors care home to help, and did so without causing the seniors to freak out and start dropping like flies from the shock of being doused with Atheist ice-water, then after some period of time that past good service could be pointed back to as a good work, but to set it up for failure beforehand was perhaps more the purpose.

I donate to the Salvation Army who I trust to deliver that aid to the needy in my area, but I do this on my own and not as part of a group. Like yourself, I would like to do something as part of a Named Atheist Group in cooperation with some trustworthy charity. This would serve the good purpose of bringing substantially more assistance to those in need, and if done correctly would help bring us into a better light in the wider society.

Now I think they would not refuse the food, but then again if some Atheist Group merely wanted to let everyone know how very, very discriminated against we are, I guess the donation could be offered in such a politicized, condescending, unpalatable manner that it would be refused but that would require some effort.

Now I, and I suspect many other Atheists, Humanists, and Freethinkers would be in favor of actually wanting to have that donation accepted so we could help the needy, but having the donation rejected might be a more orgasmic outcome for some, as it will provide them yet another chance to say "boo hoo everyone hates me".

I say we should (Some Atheist Group) approach some Aid Group with the open hand of cooperation in good faith as it were. Tell them we have chosen them because of their good history of helping the needy and because they have the infrastructure on the ground to efficiently get the job done so we would not have to reinvent that infrastructure wheel.

After making the donation we should not run to the media shouting and waving our arms in the air to let everyone know how good we are for helping our fellow man in need. Just lets join with others to help out, and at some point in the future that good and ongoing work can be pointed back to with pride, and not just viewed as propagandizing opportunism.
"Now I think they would not refuse the food, but then again if some Atheist Group merely wanted to let everyone know how very, very discriminated against we are, I guess the donation could be offered in such a politicized, condescending, unpalatable manner that it would be refused but that would require some effort."

Well I'm looking for confrontation. I would want them to accept the aid. And I wouldn't be looking to "rub it in".

"I say we should (Some Atheist Group) approach some Aid Group with the open hand of cooperation in good faith as it were. Tell them we have chosen them because of their good history of helping the needy and because they have the infrastructure on the ground to efficiently get the job done so we would not have to reinvent that infrastructure wheel."

Agreed.

"After making the donation we should not run to the media shouting and waving our arms in the air to let everyone know how good we are for helping our fellow man in need."

Agreed. But there is a middle ground.
"But there is a middle ground."

Agreed! There should be some happy balance there somewhere. Help others, by partnering with some trusted Aid Group while making ourselves not only feel good about our humanitarian efforts, but also in a low key way not hiding our light too deeply under the bushes. It would be unseemly to be over the top braggadocios over it, but it would be a legitimate point of pride for all of us to have the ability to say that we Atheists, Humanists, Freethinkers, Secular Naturalists etc. can truck along with any other good people towards helping our fellow man in need.

Perhaps this is something that Noelle and her group would be interested in pursuing. They already have a track record of service to the community, and could build on that good will to take it further. It would be a big job, and more than I would have the time to handle but I would lend my support to whoever takes it on.
"If the purpose of Volunteering at the Old Age Home was to help the seniors then why tout the fact that you are an Atheist organization which is neither here nor there. It is irrelevant to the task of Volunteering so I have to question the motive for the person who called bringing it up."

I'm truly sorry that you got the incorrect impression that we are 'touting' our Atheism. We are not all Atheists, we are a secular group that includes Atheists, Agnostics, and others who don't believe in god. I was not the one who brought this up in conversation either, the Volunteer Director asked what group I was with and to describe our organization, so I did. I doubt it would have been ethical to lie and say that we are something other than what we are, which is a group of people free of supernatural beliefs who volunteer together.

I doubt that if we were a group of Christians, Jews, Muslims, or other that they would be met with such skepticism and distrust as you and the nursing home have shown. Atheists are not all about converting others, and the members of our group know that our purpose is to do good works together. Our mission does not include preaching Atheism and if a rogue member of our group decided to do that (other than participating in a respectful discussion brought up by someone else), he/she would not be invited back. We do not lie about who we are if someone asks, but we don't go around pushing it on people either.

The primary benefits that we receive out of volunteering are purely personal, and a secondary benefit is that we could potentially change society's views about Atheists. Just because we are Atheists does not mean we proselytize to everyone we meet. There are definitely appropriate and inappropriate situations for this and obviously a nursing home is not an appropriate venue for arguing with someone about their beliefs.

Alber, there are so many incorrect assumptions and miconceptions in your posts that I could not possibly address them all so I will stop now. I am sorry that you did not take the time to learn more about us from our website (www.secularcenterusa.org), which clearly lists our mission and vision, or our blog at www.secularcenterusa.blogspot.com, which clearly details who we are and what we do.
Thank you for giving me that additional information. You of course should not hide who you are nor what your groups goals are and I applaud your group for wanting to help people. I wish you continued success in your efforts.

I nevertheless think that the Care home acted prudently in preventing any possible chance that an "Amazing Atheist" type (YouTube.com) might get in there and wreak havoc among those almost dead Christian Folk in their care, so I as an Atheist would have exercised the same judgment.

If I were the Owner/Supervisor of a similar care facility full of 80-90 year old Atheists who merely want to live in peace. I would likely refuse volunteer positions to groups of Evangelical Christians, or Watchtower toting Witnesses out of respect for those in my care. Now they may not like it, and they may cry discrimination, but I say fuckem. My duty would be to those in my charge and not to bend to the will of outside groups whose motives may be something other than that.

Do you not see the similarity here or is your vision only limited to the narrow issue of your right to believe anything you want, and everyone else having to accommodate your Atheism in every place at all times even in an old geezers home full of pre-dead Christians who just want to, as corny and stupid as it sounds to us just want to float to heaven on a cloud.

If I were to volunteer at such a place, and if I were sitting with one of those people in the last minutes of their life and if they wanted me to pray with them and if nobody more suitable was around to do the task, I would proudly pray along to help that person die with the peace they deserve at death. Praying along would not harm me as there is nothing to pray to, but it would help that person, and that is a noble reason to do it. I would hope that most atheists would do similar, but who knows! If it were a nursing home full of Atheists, Humanists etc would we want an Evangelist Administering the Last Rights at the bedside of Dawkins, or Hitchens.....not under my watch!
I find it sad that you have such a limited view of those in a nursing home. I personally think they are strong enough to handle being around someone who believes something differently from them. They are not so sensitive as to fall down and die if someone who talks to them has a different philosophy of life. I wonder why people are so sensitive about religion that they try to separate people with different beliefs?

I have several Christian friends and while I don't agree with their beliefs, I am still friends with them. We still talk about religion, with the understanding that we are not trying to convert each other and we won't convince each other of our opinion. I feel that our society will eventually grow out of religion and choose to spend my energy making a difference in the world through volunteerism and trying to protect the rights of non-believers rather than running around trying to convince people of something I already know is true. Why bother?

If I were in a nursing home situation, I would appreciate good conversation and different faces coming into my life, especially if confined to a nursing home. Not all their patients are at death's door - perhaps you are thinking of hospice care, which requires a note from the doctor stating 6 months or less to live.

If I were in a nursing home and someone wanted to pray for me, I would appreciate their caring. I think and hope these old folks would appreciate us wanting to make their lives a little more enjoyable with a fun activity or socializing.

Sorry, I do not see similarity in refusing a group of volunteers who happen not to believe in god and refusing a group whose mission is to preach their religion.

Alber, I wish that you had exposure to the people in our group and could see as I do that refusing someone to volunteer based solely on their religion is wrong. It's not just Atheists - they said they only want Christians to volunteer there. Based on that comment, I think Jews, Muslims, and others who want to volunteer there will also be turned down and would also be very concerned at the discrimination that is going on in this situation.

PS - Visiting someone at a nursing home is a lot different than administering last rites. A person's philosophy of life or religion should be respected at any service performed for them.
"It's not just Atheists - they said they only want Christians to volunteer there. Based on that comment, I think Jews, Muslims, and others who want to volunteer there will also be turned down"

Well Noelle, it is indeed a relief to know that they are equal opportunity discriminators. They don't want Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Wiccans, Scientologists or anyone else it seems potentially disrupting the few remaining quiet months or years of their Christian home-care residents.

Now that seems like a model for success to me. I think the director of that Home Care facility deserves to be congratulated for that most sensible stand. He or she has a duty of care to those residents and irt seems they are in good hands.

You have no concept of where I am coming from on this issue do you? None whatsoever! It's all about you, and your group right. You feel slighted, and hard done by the home-care facility because they should have more concern for you and your good group.

Well the duty of that facility is not to cater to your sensibilities, but to cater to the sensibilities and best needs of those in their care. Now you can whine over that all you like and call me a meanie for not siding with you like most if not all the other Atheists will undoubtedly do if it makes you feel better, but I have made my opinion plain, and see no reason to follow the Atheist Herd on this point.

Best wishes for you and your good group for the future. It sounds like you have a lot to offer to those who would like to avail of your efforts.
Exactly. In fact, I find it disturbing that Alber distrusts atheists so.

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