As confirmed an anti-theist as I am, and as desirous as I am for a day in which religious organizations are redundant and fade into the stuff of history, I am not so blinded by my partisanship that I would deny the fact that churches do engage in positive pro-social activities. In fact, I find my cup of irritation overflowing whenever any apologist for religion (theist or otherwise) points this fact out to me, as though it was a response to what I actually am criticizing. It shows that, despite their ever-present calls for ‘tolerance’ and ‘understanding’, they are simply not listening to what the other side of the debate is saying.
It is a fact that religious organizations can count charity and social services among their many assorted activities. There is evidence to suggest that religious people are, in fact, more likely to contribute to charitable activities than atheists (although when the church itself counts as a charity, I question the true magnitude of this difference). Most religious adherents are good people who care about their fellow human beings just as you or I do. While I may question the validity of their motivation (‘because YahwAlladdha says so’ is a lousy reason to do anything, positive or negative), I will not deny the fact that homeless people, poor people at home and abroad, people undergoing family crisis, and people looking for existential guidance often receive help from churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious institutions.
Facing declining attendance and influence, churches are undergoing their own existential crisis. What is the role of a franchise that is considered antiquated at best, and harmful at its worst? What will become of those that rely on religious organizations for aid? Is there a future for organized religion?
Queen’s Avenue United Church seems to think so: