The answer is YES if you're Bob Wilson.

Bob, along with Ted Turner, is one of my favorite philanthropists. Both are iconoclasts who never fail to surprise, even when one appreciates the underlying values that drive their giving.

Bob, ranked 12th in 2006 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of most-generous donors, just gave $22.5 million to fund need-based scholarships to New York City Catholic schools.

Bob's an atheist.

As reported by Bloomberg, Bob's explanation is twofold. As he says: “Let's face it, without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization.” And he points out that he's giving the money to pay tuition, not giving directly to the schools. A fine point for the canon scholars, Bob! Students need not be Roman Catholic to apply.

To the beneficiaries, there's no question, Bob will be an angel. And he would be to the Jesuits who taught me.

I wonder how an atheist reconciles himself to being an angel! And does he demur when St. Peter eventually invites him through the pearly gates?

Tom

Thanks to Chronicle of Philanthropy for heads-up.

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