I read a book about materialistic philosophies a while back, and the author made a good point. Most philosophies (save for things like Solipsism that state that reality is an illusion) have materialism as their core. After all, if you don't start out your thinking with the assumption that matter and energy exist (pretty-much the sum-total of materialism), then you can't really go much further.
I like to think that our group is a similar idea applied to religion and ethics. Religion/ethics, again with one or two exceptions, start with the assumption that you've gotta be good to other people. The question of WHY you must be good to other people is where religions start to differ (i.e. be good for goodness' sake vs. be good to please a god), but we don't really go into that in our group. We discuss ethical issues and try to do ethical stuff without the context of WHY we must be ethical. Whether you're doing good things to go to heaven or you're doing good things to make the world a better place, the important thing is that you're doing something good.
Or, to quote Shelly, "deeds not creeds".
Personally, I tend to avoid the word "religion", as I don't feel it applies to me. Looking at the dictionary definition, the only definition that really applies to me is number four, and that one is so broad that it also applies to NASCAR fans.As a bonus, we hope that our little group will appeal to "mixed" families with parents of differing religions. After all, even a family consisting of a staunch atheist married to a fundamentalist Christian would find common ground with our group.
All that being said, we've got trial-by-fire going on today. Shelly's gonna be volunteering over at Reunion Arena in Dallas, and I'll be taking care of Maggie. One thing she's gonna try to do is to assess what they need over there. We're taking a collection during tomorrow's platform, and whatever we get we'll use to help out Katrina victims. We've got two donors pledging $100 each so far, and I hope we'll get more.
Anyway, if you wanna donate, paypal your donation to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll spend it on whatever we determine is needed most. I guarantee we won't be taking out any overhead for ourselves (apart from Paypal fees, but there's not much we can do about that).
Note that our 501c3 nonprofit paperwork isn't IRS-approved yet, so we can't yet issue you a tax deductible receipt (and the Texas tax-boss still isn't too excited about giving religious nonprofit exemptions to groups that make god-belief optional). If you want a receipt, keep in touch with us and we'll try to settle up later.
Wish us luck. If you're in the D/FW area, come on over tomorrow and get an update personally.
Update: Reunion said that they've got enough volunteers. We'll still get the money to where it needs to go most. We're connected with a couple of homeless charities.