By Piet Levy
Religion News Service
Christians and atheists are fighting again -- this time over who can raise more money for charity.
The Christian and atheist communities on the online forum Reddit are in a battle to raise the most money for their causes. In the spirit of Christmas (or in atheists' case, human generosity), community members are even donating money to each other's groups.
The Reddit.com social networking site allows users to rate the popularity of various websites, as well as join like-minded communities, including groups like reddit.com/r/christianity and reddit.com/r/Atheism.
Nearly $45,000 has been raised as of Thursday (Dec. 16) through the communities' fundraising pages at FirstGiving.com. Now Reddit's Muslim community has entered the competition, with some donations coming from members of Reddit's Christianity and Atheism groups.
It all started Dec. 8 when Margaret Crymes, a 26-year-old member of Reddit's Christian group from Fullerton, Calif., suggested to the community that it raise money for the Christian relief group World Vision.
"If every member of r/Christianity donates just $4.45, we can build a health clinic in an impoverished area that desperately needs one," she wrote.
Within hours, a member of Reddit's Atheism page posted a response: "If r/Christianity builds a hospital in the Third world, we are going to build 10! Let the X-mas Wars and the overall battle for goodness in the world begin!"
On Dec. 9, a member of the atheist group set up a fundraising page for the group Doctors Without Borders on the charitable donation site FirstGiving.com. Crymes, after encouraging members of the Christian group to donate to the atheists' campaign, created her own FirstGiving page to support World Vision, which in turn gained support from Reddit's
Three days later, an inspired member of Reddit's Islam group created a FirstGiving page to raise money for the charitable group Islamic Relief.
As of Dec. 16, the 105,587 members of the atheist group had raised $32,802 of their $42,000 goal. The Christian group, with 9,017 followers, had raised $11,443 toward its $12,000 goal. The Muslim group, with 2,224 followers, had raised $360 of its $5,000 goal.
"At first I was worried this would turn into a big war ... but this is a friendly thing," Crymes said. "If it means that two communities that historically have animosity towards each other can tone it down for a while, that's great."