FFRF creates Nonbelief Relief as separate charitable entity

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is announcing the formation of a related entity, Nonelief Relief Inc., as a new humanitarian agency for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and their supporters “to improve this world, our only world,” explains Nonbelief Relief Administrator Annie Laurie Gaylor. Gaylor is also FFRF co-president with Dan Barker.

Nonbelief Relief will operate as a separate nonprofit entity seeking 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code. FFRF will process donations, making them deductible for income-tax purposes.

Nonbelief Relief will additionally seek to test the Internal Revenue Code’s discrimination in favor of church-related charities, which, unlike secular charities, are not required to seek tax exemption, file papers, fees or the onerous Form 990 reports to the IRS.
Nonbelief Relief will “seek to remediate conditions of human suffering and injustice on a global scale, whether the result of natural disasters, human actions or adherence to religious dogma. Such relief is not limited to but may include assistance for individuals targeted for nonbelief, secular activism or blasphemy,” its bylaws note.

“The only afterlife that ought to concern us is leaving our descendants a secure and pleasant future,” said Gaylor.

Nonbelief Relief is adopting as a slogan: “Atheists work to make this life heavenly” (giving credit to FFRF member and benefactor Stephen Uhl, a former priest).

“Nonbelief Relief is concerned with improving the human condition, not the condition of humankind’s ‘souls,’ ” noted Barker, a former minister who serves as vice president of the charity. “Charity is not true charity that comes with evangelical strings attached. The real ‘sin’ of religion is valuing dogma over people. We know humankind can be ‘good without God.’ “

Nonbelief Relief does not have the ulterior motive of “conversion” in giving aid in cases of natural disasters and other mass suffering. “Nevertheless, we think it’s essential that it be known that we secularists are just as charitable, if not more charitable than the religious, but have simply lacked the infrastructure to give as a united group under the banner of freethought,” Gaylor added.

Lisa Strand, FFRF’s director of operations, will serve as treasurer/secretary, and Jim Zerwick, a board member of FFRF, will also serve on the Nonbelief Relief board.
FFRF has seeded the charity via a $200,000 special donation. Individual donors may designate contributions to Nonbelief Relief via FFRF. (If donating online, choose the Nonbelief Relief designation in the dropdown.) Only donations to FFRF specifically earmarked will go to Nonbelief Relief.

Nonbelief Relief will contribute and raise funds during serious natural disasters, permitting nontheistic donors to give as part of a secular charity.

But Nonbelief Relief will also fill a void by offering help to nonbelievers who find themselves imperiled or threatened because of their nonreligious views, writings or activism. There are many charities for believers, but nothing adequately meeting the needs of nonbelievers increasingly targeted for their atheism, apostasy or “blasphemy,” Gaylor noted.

Earlier this year, FFRF’s initial Nonbelief Relief project awarded $20,000 to imperiled atheist Taslima Nasrin, a physician, writer and poet. The Center for Inquiry also helped her escape India after death threats escalated. Nasrin has been the subject of a fatwa for more than 20 years for angering imams in her native Bangladesh. She more recently appeared on a death list that also contained the names of four secular writers and bloggers in Bangladesh who were brutally hacked to death by Islamists since February.

“Our giving will not be inspired by a bible or so-called holy book, or by the desire that we will get a heavenly reward. Our giving is inspired by wishing to ‘Make the world better,’ in the last words of 19th century American feminist Lucy Stone,” Gaylor said.

Freedom From Religion Foundation