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Atheists credit the Gospel
Two high-profile atheists concede that to get practical help to the poor and liberate them from poverty you need Christianity’s teaching about man’s place in the Universe

skydavidby David Catchpoole

Although an atheist, veteran British politician Roy Hattersley is considered something of an authority on the origins of the Salvation Army, since he wrote a best-selling biography of William and Catherine Booth.

Hence it wasn’t too surprising that a BBC program3 about the Salvation Army’s effectiveness sought his opinion on the subject. The narrator, Peter Day, put it to Hattersley that, “This sort of thing, a sort of social entrepreneurial drive which starts off out of a particular place and circumstances—those sorts of things often run out of steam after a generation or two. Is the Salvation Army in danger of running out of steam?”

Hattersley’s response was immediate and effusive:

“I don’t think the Salvation Army is remotely in danger of running out of steam. And I think it remains a vibrant organization because of its convictions. I’m an atheist. But I can only look with amazement at the devotion of the Salvation Army workers. I’ve been out with them on the streets and seen the way they work amongst the people, the most deprived and disadvantaged and sometimes pretty repugnant characters. I don’t believe they would do that were it not for the religious impulse. And I often say I never hear of atheist organizations taking food to the poor. You don’t hear of ‘Atheist Aid’ rather like Christian aid, and, I think, despite my inability to believe myself, I’m deeply impressed by what belief does for people like the Salvation Army.”

Roy Hattersley is not the only high-profile atheist to publicly note, grudgingly or otherwise, the fruit of the Gospel.

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You can also watch or listen to Kevin’s recent interview with Onesmus Ngoboka about the great need for the gospel in Uganda. — Podcast — Video

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