ACLU Turns Down Donation From Humanist Organization

In a bizarre and disturbing move, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has rejected a $20,000 gift made by the American Humanist Association to underwrite an alternate prom in the recent case involving a lesbian student in Mississippi. The American Humanist Association promotes “good without God” and was viewed by the ACLU as too controversial as a perceived atheist organization.

Jennifer Carr, the fund-raiser for the A.C.L.U of Mississippi, wrote in an e-mail message to Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the humanist group. stating “[a]lthough we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist.’ ”

Carr reportedly added that “[o]ur staff has been talking a lot about your donation offer and have found ourselves in a bit of a conflict. We have fears that your organization sponsoring the prom could stir up even more controversy.”

It would seem that concerns over “these Southern Baptist types” should hardly deter an organization like the ACLU. The legal director of the ACLU in Mississippi, Kristy Bennett, has insisted that part of the problem was conditions placed on the award by the organization. However, the organization has stated that it had placed virtually no conditions on the gift.

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16 thoughts on “ACLU Turns Down Donation From Humanist Organization”

  1. I agree with Shire. Virtually unconditional is not unconditional period. Just what conditions WERE placed on the donation?

    And perceptions of Humanists in Mississippi are not like perceptions of Humanists in, say, Maine.

    I suspect they want as little more controversy as possible for the alternate prom to come off with no trouble.

    Perhaps they should not have offered to handle the donations. I can’t think that was the business of the ACLU. I don’t expect my donations to go for other than pursuing law suits.

  2. Even if an anonymous donation was legal, I wouldn’t make it through the state’s ACLU after basically being called untouchable.

  3. “the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist.’ ”

    Funny, I’d have guessed “civil liberties,” myself.

  4. I doubt the donor base in Mississippi would mind. I would assume conservatives in Mississippi dont send money to the ACLU and I doubt a liberal Christian would have a problem judging from liberal Christians I know.

    They are just afraid of the backlash and dont want a cross burned in their parking lot.

  5. Strange story. I suspect that it has a lot to do with the ACLU’s donor base in Mississippi.

  6. rcampbell

    A named or anonymous donation is so not the problem. As vlf and the Queen noted, the far larger issue is the ACLU turning down ANY donation on the basis of concern about religious controversy. That qualifies as a WTF!!

    ==============================================================

    You are right … as usual

  7. rcampbell,

    Why would you think I would (1) “slam on the organization”? (2) Not come right out and do so, if that was my intent?

    The reason I don’t think the AHA can make an anonymous donation is that their rules of operation do not permit them to do so. Individuals can easily make anonymous donations, but I don’t think a 501(c) can do the same.

  8. A named or anonymous donation is so not the problem. As vlf and the Queen noted, the far larger issue is the ACLU turning down ANY donation on the basis of concern about religious controversy. That qualifies as a WTF!!

    Duh

    I’m confused by your comment about the AHA not being able to make an anonymous donation. If it’s a slam on the organization, I didn’t get it.

  9. I do have to wonder what the “virtually” in “virtually no conditions” means. Hopefully it just means “you spend it on a prom and same-gendered couples can attend.”

    As surprised as anyone else here that the ACLU cares about the source. Maybe they’ve rejected donations from Christian or other religious groups in the past and are trying to remain consistent. Or maybe they’re having enough trouble defending homosexuality from the nuttier religious folk without an explicit association to atheism; all they’d need then is support from Castro and/or Bin Laden and we’d be back to lynchings.

  10. I agree with Blouise and AY. An anonymous donation would solve the problem. Unfortunately, I don’t think the American Humanist Association can make an anonymous donation.

  11. Apparently Ms. Carr, who intitially turned down the donation on behalf of the ACLU, is afraid of those “Southern Baptist Types” stirring up controversy. So stirring up controversy is now an excuse for allowing tyranny of religion? Of all organizations, I never believed the ACLU would be cowed by a threat of controvery. I may have to rethink my card-carrying membership and donations to the ACLU.

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