Tithing for social justice

Last month I said I would start tithing for social justice causes. I thought it might be interesting to list the causes I chose, and why. Each cause links to the donation page of the relevant organization. I’ll keep this post updated as I change my donations.

I was looking for secular groups making a positive contribution to civil rights and equality issues nationally. Right now there are some obvious holes: global warming is a social justice issue, for example, and the human rights issues touched by groups like Amnesty International are vital.

Finally, I want to acknowledge that I’m privileged in being able to donate. I’m posting this to gather feedback on my choices, and indeed, whether this is the most effective thing I could be doing.

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. — Louis Blanc

Black Lives Matter

There is a problem with systemic racism in this country that dates back to its origins. The effects include disproportionate poverty and incarceration rates, and what can only be described as institutional murder. This civil rights issue is now commanding global attention, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter advocacy has become prominent enough to influence political platforms.

Even aside from the outrageous injustice, and questions about what kind of country we want to live in, a society where one demographic isn’t disproportionately impoverished, incarcerated or killed is safer and creates more prosperity for all its inhabitants.

American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU litigates for civil and human rights. In particular, it fights against discrimination, whether advocating for the rights of transgender workers, freedom of assembly and protest, or the separation of church and state. It also keeps tabs on equal access to education, fights against ubiquitous surveillance, and was instrumental in establishing Miranda rights.

By creating case law, the ACLU enshrines civil liberties in the fabric of society. It’s an enormously important organization. If I could only donate to one organization, it would be this one.

Planned Parenthood

There are few more embattled organizations in America. Donald Trump says he will defund it. So do most conservative politicians. This despite the fact that no government money goes on abortions; in fact, removing the cancer screenings supported by public funds would endanger almost a million women.

And that’s just cancer: Planned Parenthood’s clinics provide much-needed services to women who might not otherwise be able to receive them. It saves lives.

But also: I’m pro-choice. What a woman chooses to do with her body is not my business, or yours. And even if you’re not, having access to clean, safe, sanitary abortions is surely preferable to the alternative. For example, look at Ireland, where almost all abortions are banned.

Southern Poverty Law Center

The SPLC tracks and fights bigotry and discrimination. It maintains an alarming Hate Map of hate groups across the United States — 892 at the time of writing. It then monitors their activity and reports on them, and their wider trends, both to law enforcement and to the public.

In a world where a Presidential candidate refuses to denounce the KKK, fighting bigotry is more important than ever. The SPLC also teaches tolerance and, like the ACLU, goes to court to defend victims of discrimination.

Human Rights Campaign

The HRC promotes LGBTQ rights, lobbies politicians to support LGBTQ equality, and actively funds political campaigns that support these rights.

The idea that anyone should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation is abhorrent. Although marriage equality became the law of the land in 2015, there’s so much more work to do — in a world where which bathroom you use has become a hot political issue and conservative hate groups constantly threaten to erode rights, advocacy is still very much required. HRC’s work accompanies the legal work done by the ACLU and SPLC.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

In a world where more of our lives are represented online, our rights must be represented there, too. The EFF sits at the intersection between civil rights law and technology, protecting rights such as privacy and free expression. Of course, this disproportionately affects vulnerable voices.

The EFF is non-partisan, but its work establishes important precedents for business and civil life on the internet. In addition to privacy causes, it fights for equality issues like net neutrality and patent reform, which protect cultural diversity online.