Stand-up comedian Doug Stanhope has drawn a philosophical line in the sand by proclaiming that, contrary to popular belief, "hate can help." The outspoken atheist set out to prove his theory by raising over $125,000 for a woman who identified as an atheist on television after a tornado destroyed her home. But beyond a simple act of generosity, Stanhope is now admitting that his fundraiser was at least as much about proving a point as it was charity.
After Oklahoman Rebecca Vitsmun explained to Wolf Blitzer that she didn't "thank God" for saving her family from a deadly tornado, Stanhope was so impressed with her bravery in confirming her atheism that he created an IndieGogo fundraiser in the name of Atheists United in order to help Vitsmun, her husband and her baby.
Stanhope, who frequently and brazenly attacks religion in his act -- after the Sept. 11 attacks, he quipped about George W. Bush's appeals to religion: "Your god takes Tuesdays off" -- recently released a video explaining why he raised the money.
"If you think [her admission] didn't take balls, you've never been to Oklahoma," said Stanhope, who resides in Arizona. "Saying 'I'm an atheist' in Oklahoma is like screaming jihad at airport security."
He set the goal at $50,000, but $125,760 was ultimately raised in a few months after the support of other atheist celebrities such as Ricky Gervais and Penn Jillette. In exchange for contributions, donors received gifts such as a "Get Out of Hell Free Card" and a "Phone Call From God."
Although Vitsmun indeed received the funds from the campaign to help rebuild her life, Stanhope was clear that he did not start the campaign entirely in the name of selfless charity.
"I didn't do it because I felt sympathy because she got all her shit destroyed by a tornado," he said. "I did it simply to be a prick to her Okie Christian neighbors, hoping they were all eating off their FEMA trucks when someone drove up and presented Rebecca with a giant cardboard check."
He further elaborated in an article on Vice:
"Charity feels good, even when you're doing it as a big 'F*ck You' to Christians who you've pre-judged, and not because you care about someone losing their shit. Realizing you've actually changed an individual's life. It was pretty goddamned thrilling."
According to what appears to be Vitsmun's Facebook profile, the family has since relocated to Washington.
Check out the video above to see Stanhope's explanation of his charity.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Penn Jillette's surname.