Matt Wilbourn, a self-identified atheist, recently had his $100 donation to the Murrow Indian Children's Home in Muskogee, Oklahoma, denied (video below).
"I filled out the paperwork, I put my wife and I's name on the paperwork," Wilbourn told KJRH. "And at the bottom, it asks if there is any person or organization you want to put it in memory of or in honor of, and I put the Muskogee Atheist Community."
Wilbourn and his wife are co-founders of the Muskogee Atheist Community.
An employee from the children's home called Wilbourn to tell him the donation was rejected.
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"She called my desk phone at work and told me that they will not be accepting our donation because it would go against everything they believe in," Wilbourn recalled.
According to Wilbourn, the employee told him that the home was mostly funded by the American Baptist Churches Association.
"All of [the Muskogee Atheist Community] were in agreement that we shouldn't take the $100 back and instead raise the amount," Wilbourn told the news station.
"I emailed the director of the Murrow Home and told her that I'm raising the amount to $250. 'Would you accept that?' No reply from her."
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Wilbourn created a GoFundMe page on Aug. 22 to raise more money for the home; the page currently has raised over $20,000.
"If [they] don't accept our donation, we are going to donate it all to Camp Quest, a camp for free-thinking children," Wilbourn explained to Muskogee Now. "It's up to [them] whether impoverished children get the money or children of privilege get it."
The children's home sent a statement to the KJRH on Aug. 24:
To accept money for an advertisement which would indicate 'In Honor of the Muskogee Atheist Community' in the advertisement, would be contrary to those Biblical principles upon which we at Murrow stand. We are Christians, believing in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
We appreciate the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Wilbourn for their thoughtful donation to the Murrow Children’s Home. This decision is not about money or personal matters. It is solely about our religious beliefs and Honoring God our Father.
According to Muskogee Now, the children's home does accept taxpayer money per Title 1 from the federal government, which could include cash from taxpaying atheists.
Dr. Sharon Woolwine, president of the Murrow board of trustees, told the news site: "[Wilbourn] wants his organization's name as a donor on our program for our pow wow. That is unacceptable."
"I don't trust him," Woolwine added. "I think he's using it to get more publicity for his organization. We believe in Matthew 10:32-33."
Matthew 10:32-33 makes no mention of refusing financial donations from atheists. The verse is Jesus speaking about a profession of faith: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."
Woolwine said that Title 1 funds don't violate Matthew 10:32-33 because that money is not from a group that's "against God."
It's not clear how atheists can be against a supernatural being whom they don't acknowledge exists.
Muskogee Now contacted Woolwine when the GoFundMe page for the home reached $17,160, and asked her if there might be a change of heart, and she reportedly shouted, "I have no comment. Goodbye!" and disconnected the call.
According to Muskogee Now, the donors to the GoFundMe page include atheists, agnostics and Christians who are appalled by the comments and behavior of the children's home.
Unlike the children's home, the atheist GoFundMe page does allow donors to identify their organizations (including churches), if they choose to do so.
Wilbourn's Facebook page states that all of the money raised will go to the camp, but $5,000 will be donated to the children's home anonymously, and if that donation is turned down, the funds will go to a local church that will hopefully donate the money to the children's home.
"We've had support from churches all over this nation today," Wilbourn stated. "I'm sure one of them will gladly donate the money to Murrow."