© Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

“Values and beliefs with which we don’t agree”

I’m spending a lot of time and effort vetting firms to create the website for Foundation Beyond Belief. All in all an aggravating and slow process. Yesterday I filled out a long and detailed form about the Foundation and the site we need for a web design firm in my old home state of Minnesota.

Today I received this reply:

Hi Dale,

I appreciate the time you took to fill out our website questionnaire. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are a good fit for developing your website as we are committed Christians. I think it would be difficult for us to give our all to a website promoting values and beliefs with which we don’t agree.

Thanks again for your time. I hope you understand my reasons for declining your request.


I usually let this kind of thing roll off my back, but this one got under my skin in a way that nothing has for years. For one thing, I doubt they’d have offered the same reason to a Jewish or Muslim foundation. (On second thought, who knows.) I was also struck by the fact that our values are suspect even when we’re involved in an overtly charitable initiative.

I replied:

Hi M___,

Thanks so much for your reply. I must agree, we would be a very poor fit — but not because you are committed Christians.

Our foundation is dedicated primarily to the encouragement of charitable giving among the nonreligious but will be supporting both religious and secular charities. I would only want to work with someone who shares those values of generosity and openness, who sees the importance of reaching across lines of difference. Thanks for letting me know that you don’t agree with such values.

My current website was created by two committed Christians, one of whom is a past administrator for the Campus Crusade for Christ. They noted our differences but recognized that we share the same core values of mutual respect and a desire to make the world a better place.

Here’s to more Christians like them.


(If you are a professional web designer who would like to be considered for this job — regardless of your worldview — drop me a note with a link to your online portfolio. My contact info is in the sidebar.)

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This was written on Thursday, 23. July 2009 at 16:43 and was filed under belief and believers, diversity, Foundation Beyond Belief, Kerfuffles, nonbelief and nonbelievers, values. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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Comments »

  1. As Jon Stewart might say, “Bam! Boom! … Boom!”

    Actually, you were honest and polite. Hopefully, your missive will have an edifying effect. Every little bit helps.

    Comment: Steelman – 23. July 2009 @ 6:35 pm

  2. You rock! I love it how you can get to the core of a situation, and eloquently at that.

    Comment: Karen – 23. July 2009 @ 6:50 pm

  3. Excellent response! I sent you an email-as a secular humanist, parent and longtime reader of your blog, I’d be thrilled to work on your Foundation Beyond Belief site.

    Comment: antimattr – 24. July 2009 @ 12:10 am

  4. I have been reading your site for a few months now and as a soon to be new mom and an atheist I just wanted to tell you how much I love it.

    This was a great response to their e-mail. Nice job. Keep up the great writing.

    Comment: LeahC – 24. July 2009 @ 9:38 am

  5. […] July 24, 2009 · Leave a Comment Hemant Mehta posted about a godless guy named Dale McGowan who filled out a design form with a Christian design firm about creating a web site called “Foundation Beyond Belief,” an organization that will focus on humanist generosity and allow for charitable giving from atheists. The “Christian” design firm responded that McGowan’s godlessness goes against said Christian’s core values, and their firm would not be a great fit for designing the site. Godless McGowan responded in kind, and walloped the guy with a brilliant response. […]

    Pingback: The Meming of Life » “Values and beliefs with which we don’t agree” Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders « Le Café Witteveen – 24. July 2009 @ 11:44 am

  6. Oh my gosh, Dale, I love it. You rock! 🙂

    Comment: UteMitchell – 24. July 2009 @ 11:45 am

  7. Fantastic reply, Dale. Well said.

    BTW – love your books.

    Comment: jarnot – 24. July 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  8. That’s a beautiful response, Dale. I’m sorry to hear that you received such a letter, and hope that you find a wonderful company to create the site.

    Comment: awolfga – 24. July 2009 @ 2:04 pm

  9. Nice.

    Comment: WAR_ON_ERROR – 26. July 2009 @ 12:58 am

  10. That was the most polite pwnage I’ve seen in a while. Excellent.

    Comment: lneely – 27. July 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  11. […] by brachinus in Uncategorized. Tagged: atheism, etiquette. Leave a Comment A polite smackdown So, an atheist group is lo0king for someone to redesign their website. And a web design firm turns […]

    Pingback: A polite smackdown « Atheist Etiquette – 31. July 2009 @ 3:45 pm

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  19. […] agree.Thanks again for your time. I hope you understand my reasons for declining your request.M___Dale’s response is a polite, respectful, silent-but-deadly slap-in-the-face that is an absolute joy to read.I don’t know how anyone could’ve phrased it better.(via […]

    Pingback: Christian Company Receives Brilliant Smackdown from a Polite Atheist – 06. October 2012 @ 9:08 pm

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