Murrow Children’s Home in Muskogee has been helping needy Indian children for 140 years. The home, located at 2540 Murrow Circle, operates on donations - and on Title 1 money from the federal government.
This week, a Muskogee atheist group, Muskogee Atheist Community, tried to donate several hundred dollars to the home in time for its annual pow wow, its major fund raiser after a representative of the home approached one of its founders at his place of employment.
The man, Matt Wilbourne, later received a call stating the donation would not be accepted because it went against “everything we believe."
The atheist organization had already set up a GoFundMe account and had tripled the original donation of $100. The account one day later had raised $4250 to donate to the home.
“If (they) don’t accept our donation, we are going to donate it all to CampQuest, a camp for free-thinking” children, Wilbourn said. “It’s up to (them) whether impoverished children get the money or children of privilege get it.”
Dr. Sharon Woolwine, president of the Murrow board of trustees, said the home is declining the money on principle.
“He wants his organization’s name as a donor on our program for our pow wow,” she said. “That is unacceptable.”
Told that the group had mentioned they’re just trying to foster cooperation between atheists and Christians, she said it was still not acceptable.
“I don’t trust him,” she said. “I think he’s using it to get more publicity for his organization. We believe in Matthew 10:32-33.”
That scripture states that Jesus will acknowledge whoever acknowledges him before God in heaven.
Title 1 funds, which are gathered from taxpayers of all religious beliefs, don’t go against that provision, she said, because they’re not from a group that’s “against God,” even though up to 5 percent of those taxpayers are atheists, according to the latest data.
UPDATE 3:09 p.m.: The amount now collected to donate to the home is $12,520.
UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: During the course of today, the atheists have raised $17,160 to donate to the Murrow Home. MuskogeeNOW.com called Woolwine again to ask if that might change the organization’s position, and she yelled “I have no comment. Goodbye!” and hung up the phone. (The number is up to $18,006 now)
UPDATE 7:33 p.m.: Some comments from those who have donated on the GoFundMe page:
I am a Christian who stands with the Muskogee Atheist Community today! Thank you for fighting back with love instead of spreading hateful words. You are a true inspiration, and I hope people of all religious backgrounds will take notice and follow your example. As a Christian, I am deeply saddened to hear about the way you have been treated, which is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught. I’m proud of you guys for taking the high road on this one!
Donated! Bryan and Lisa Bond (Pastor of First Presbyterian Church ofVan Buren). Thank you for loving the kids.
Im happy to see Christian comments on here supporting this fundraiser. If your religious beliefs prevent you from caring for children, you need to really examine them closely.
Donated by an agnostic married to an atheist under the assumption that the funds raised will benefit the kids either through this organization or another.
Just because someone doesn’t believe in church, religion, or “god” it doesn’t make them immoral or unable to be compassionate and help those in need.
I wonder what the tribal council board members think of this. Here is a list of the board of trustee’s emails address. I bet the tribes would be more than happy to accept the money for their children regardless of where it came from. Let’s flood their inboxes. I worked at a childrens home and I know the kids don’t care where the money comes from. http://www.murrowindianchildrenshome .org/Board.html
My advice to Murrow Indian Children’s Home: Don’t perish while clinging to the steeple of your burning church because you rejected the rescue helicopter in favor of holding out for the firetruck you prayed God to send!
What baffles me most is the fact that she won’t accept the money with their name on the form, but she will accept it with a different name on the form knowing it still comes from the same place. If she was really adamant on believing she is on a moral high ground, that alone contradicts her.
UPDATE 8:52 p.m.: A post on Wilbourn’s Facebook page states that all but $5,000 of the money raised will go to Camp Quest Oklahoma. The remaining $5,000 will be donated anonymously to the Murrow home. If that donation is rejected, it will be donated to a local church for the purposes of the church donating to Murrow.
“We’ve had support from churches all over this nation today,” he said. “I’m sure one of them will gladly donate the money to Murrow.”
UPDATE Aug. 25, 8 a.m.: The total amount has reached $23,000. A group calling itself “Muskogee Christians Coming Together” has launched a GoFundMe campaign in response about an hour ago, but so far there are no donations.