Children's home denies donation from atheist group; group starts GoFundMe to raise additional funds

MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- A group has started a GoFundMe page for a Muskogee children's home after a man's donation was allegedly denied.

Matt Wilbourn says his donation was denied by the Murrow Indian Children's Home after he asked that the home put the donation in the name of the Muskogee Atheist Community.

"I filed out the paperwork and I put my wife and I's name on the paperwork," he said. "At the bottom, it asks if there is any person or organization you want to put it in memory of and I put the Muskogee Atheist Community."

Wilbourn says that he made a $100 donation, but was later contacted by someone from the home.

"She called my desk phone at work and told me that they would not be accepting our donation because it would go against everything they believe in," Wilbourn said.

The employee told Wilbourn he would need to change the name on the donation in order for the home to accept the money, Wilbourn refused, and the employee said the money would be returned.

"Do things out of the goodness of you heart whether it's for religion or not, but don't let religion come between you and someone who needs help and that's what has happened here," he said. 

Wilbourn says an employee of the home told him they are primarily funded by the American Baptist Churches Association. He and his wife are the co-founders for the Muskogee Atheist Community.

"All of them were in agreement that we shouldn't take the $100 back and instead raise the amount," he said. "I emailed the director of the Murrow Home and told her that I'm raising the amount to $250. No reply from her." 

Monday night, Wilbourn started a GoFundMe page to raise more money for the home which still has not accepted the donation. So far, the GoFundMe page has raised more than $400 with the cash donation. 

"It's taken food off their plate, clothes off their back and shelter over their heads," Wilbourn said. 

If the Murrow Indian Children's Home continues to refuse the money raised, the Atheist community will donate the money to Camp Quest, a non-religious camp.

2 Works for You's calls to the children's home were not returned, and our reporter was asked to leave when we stopped by the home Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Murrow Indian Children's Home sent us this statement explaining why they wouldn't accept the donation:

The Murrow Indian Children’s Home was founded on Biblical principles over 100 years ago by a Baptist Missionary.

Those Biblical principles include believing and trusting in the Trinity; God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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. 

Mr. Wilbourn asked that his donation be noted in the ad, “In Honor of the Muskogee Atheist Community”.  Murrow cannot Honor the Atheist non-belief in God our father, and Honor God our Father under our Biblical principles.  Those two positions are totally opposite of each other.  Therefore, we must respectfully decline the donation and the request to Honor the Atheist Community with the donation in an advertisement for a Murrow fundraising event.

Once again, we thank the Wilbourns’ for their generosity to Murrow and we understand their rights to their beliefs.  We also hope that in turn the Muskogee Atheist Community and the Wilbourns’ will respect the Biblical principles of the Murrow foundation for over 100 years and understand why our principles are different and that we must Honor our God.

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