A Church Passes Gas March 29, 2008

A Church Passes Gas

In Carthage, Missouri, a local church did something useful for the community.

They helped lower the gas prices to $1.99/gallon.

The difference in price was bought by the Forest Park Baptist Church (Carthage Campus) — up to 15 gallons for the first 150 people who came by the Tiger Alley gas station.

Even though the church did not publicize the buy-down, lines soon sprouted on both Fairview Street and River Street. The 150 drivers passed through the store in less than three hours…

It was a cheerful bunch of volunteers who scurried about directing traffic, pumping gas and cleaning windows.

“I wanted to give back to my community,” said Cyndie Coolie, Carthage, as she washed windows. “I love God and this is my opportunity to show the community what a good thing we’ve got going at Forest Park. I’m proud to pump gas and I hope my husband doesn’t get too used to me washing windows.”

Charlene Bridges, drove one of the last of the 150 cars that got gas in the event.
“This is a great savings and a big help,” Bridges said. “A friend of mine called me after she’d been here and told me about it. I think it’s wonderful to see a church coming out to help the community like this.”

I didn’t read anything in the article about proselytization from the volunteers while pumping gas.

For the sake of the next question, let’s assume it didn’t happen.

Would any of the atheists reading this have turned down the offer…?

(via Friendly Christian)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]


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  • Yes, but not for the obvious reasons. My wife and I filled up her tank today for $1.88 a gallon. The local grocery chain owns some gas stations and runs a promotion- for every $50 spent at the grocery store, you get $0.10 off every gallon. Since we never use the car, we tend to rack up the points- we got a $1.50 off at the pump today.

  • BZ

    Good intentions, but I’m not sure it is a good thing. I think high gas prices are good, it encourages people to use less of a limited resource.

  • Yes. I don’t want to give my money to churches. And I agree with BZ. It seems like the price of gas is still artificially low in the US compared to the prices in other countries and based on the increase of the cost per barrel in the past years. That said, high fuel prices trickle down to the costs of everything else, and the US economy has already been so screwed up by the Republicans that I think letting the gas prices inflate naturally could push us over the edge into a serious depression.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t buy anything from a church because I don’t trust them with my money.

  • RobL

    I would have been more impressed if they had fed the hungry with the money, or paid the elderly’s electric bills. A nice thought but the effect is to further promote the false idea we have a right to cheap gas.

  • Erik

    If the reason for not buying the gas is because you don’t trust the church with your money, then on that basis I’m going stop paying taxes.

    Seriously, the fact that they’re not evangelizing in the process of selling the gas says they can’t be *that* bad, and my money is put to a much worse use every day in Iraq and building multi-million dollar bridges to nowhere in Alaska.

  • I wouldn’t have purchased any gas. But then I don’t drive at all so it isn’t really a difficult decision.

  • Would a Christian turn down paid down atheist gas?

  • Renacier

    I’ll agree with RobL, here. The only way this was is a good idea is if the Carthage, Missouri schools, libraries, drug rehab centers, women’s shelters, hospitals and homeless shelters were all fully staffed and stocked.
    Otherwise, it’s just a pretentious feel-good waste.

  • Lezard

    Hmm, Christians explicitly subsidizing the exports of Muslim countries — seems like an inverse tariff. Odd.

  • Iztok

    Mosaic Church has done it at least couple of times here in Charlotte, NC. They’ve paid full tanks of gas for people. They do try to give 10% back to the community. (Disclaimer: Am not a member but consider several people there friends.)

  • Jen

    Hell yes I would take their free gas. But I am a whore like that.

    When I lived in Chicago I took public transportation. In the suburbs, what’s a girl to do? I am not going to switch jobs to something where I get paid a whole lot less just because it one of the few businesses I can walk to. In order that I may ever get a promotion, I need a car so I can get transferred where the company needs me. Ideally, I would love to be without a car. However, that really only works for the few who live close by their work who also don’t live in an area with crappy weather. I really don’t drive that much, but I am not going out walking alone at night as a young female, nor am I walking 20 miles to work, nor am I going to make my grandma walk.

  • How about you, Hemant? Would you have filled up?

  • QrazyQat

    How much do you want to bet that the same church people who did that also helped put the current administration in power, therefore doing their part to make the problem in the first place. I’d be more impressed if they learned their lesson and started fighting for American ideals. That in turn would help fuel prices, in the long run (if Reagan — who they probably also supported — had kept Carter’s fuel goals we’d be energy self-sufficient by now, and think what that would’ve done for gas prices). So, yeah, nice stunt, but to quote Dick Cheney, “So?”.

  • I would turn it down, not because I don’t want to give money to a church (it sounds like it would be the other way around, actually) or because people should be getting away from the idea that we have a right to cheap gas (I agree that people need to get away from that idea), but because I am rather vocal in my criticism of churches, and it seems like it would be disrespectful to the people who did this to take from them when convenient while speaking poorly of the institution that they are doing this on behalf of.

  • First of all, nobody was giving any money to the church by buying this gas. In fact, it was just the opposite, the church was giving them money by paying the difference. This is merely a feel good event put on by the church in hopes of gaining some good publicity. If they did 150 cars and the average car was 12 gallons and let’s say that they had to make up a difference of $1.30/gallon then that’s $15.60 per car for a total of $2,340. So instead of $2,340 going to social services type programs it went to 150 lucky people who just happened to get in line first. I suppose every business has to advertise to stay afloat. I hope all those people who gave them their hard earned money each Sunday are happy with their advertising budget.

  • I own three automobiles. If I had the time and lived close enough by, I would have bought gas for all three of them. Its not giving money to the church. Its getting money from the church. Sweet.

  • Kyle

    I’m currently a senior studying economics and I can tell you right now that whenever you artificially manipulate the price of a good that there will be an inefficiency in the market; in this case a shortage of gasoline.

  • QrazyQat: Since Carter’s energy policy (tax the shit out of the oil companies!) killed domestic production to begin with, I can’t really get behind you on that objection.

    And so what if it was advertising/good will publicity? If Starbucks or Target or Coca-cola did the same thing would you take advantage of it? What if it was the gas company, itself, running the promotion? Sure that’s a lot of money that could have been spent on something better, but if you personally live that philosophy then you wouldn’t have the internet service (unless you’re lucky enough to get free municipal WiFi) or computer necessary to make the objection.

    I personally wouldn’t do it for the same reason I didn’t take the Christians up on their offers of help after Katrina. I am actively working against their interests and it would be hypocritical to solicit or take advantage of their help.

  • julie marie

    I’d have filled up, and I’d have said thank you. that was nice. I wouldn’t have thought up a list of everything else that needs to get right before I can enjoy a little break. me and my 11 year old minivan that is leaking radiator fluid into the oil will limp a little farther down the road today. (maybe all the way to Cold Stone Creamery hahaha)

  • Now we just need to ask them where they think gas/oil comes from.

  • QrazyQat

    QrazyQat: Since Carter’s energy policy (tax the shit out of the oil companies!) killed domestic production to begin with, I can’t really get behind you on that objection.

    It supposedly reduced domestic oil production by 3-6 percent; that’s “killing” it? Boy, every time you sneeze you must think you’re dying. 🙂 That’s just so overboard it’s ridiculous. Really now.

    Of course the CAFE standards are not part of the windfall oil tax, but the effects of the windfall oil tax being described as “killing” oil production as ludicrously ill-informed. And of course his removing Nixon’s price controls helped the industry, but gosh, Republicans don’t like to talk about how their guys are the ones who implement central-planning price controls like that. So we won’t. 🙂

  • jen

    A local church did the same sort of thing a week or two ago. I didn’t go – partly because the thought of getting church-subsidized gas distinctly turned me off, but also because I *really* hate dealing with lines at a gas station . . . .

  • Joseph R.

    I would have bought the gas no matter who subsidized it.(I have a 55 mile commute to work every day)

  • Anyway, I wouldn’t buy anything from a church because I don’t trust them with my money.

    Huh? As Bruce also pointed out, this wasn’t giving money to the church, this was them giving money to you.

    But yes, it was purely a marketing stunt. It’s a nice gesture, and I would have gladly accepted it personally, but it’s not the same as helping people in real need. That doesn’t make it bad of course, but there’s a difference between giving $15 to someone who isn’t hard up for cash in the first place, and giving $15 who can’t afford to get to work otherwise. They might have been better off figuring out some way to buy gas directly for low income families or something like that.

  • Matt

    I wonder if they’d have turned someone away if they knew they were an atheist. Anyway, I wouldn’t have a problem with leeching subsidized gas from them, but like another poster said, I hate waiting in line for gas.

  • I wonder if they’d have turned someone away if they knew they were an atheist.

    I highly, highly doubt it. The whole point of these kind of stunts is to attract “unchurched” people typically.

  • julie marie

    my guess is they would have been happy to know they were showing, in a small way, the love of Christ to a non-Christian of any stripe. The seeker church I attended (parent church of Mosaic, mentioned above) was very earnest in their desire to reach “unchurched Charlies”.

  • julie marie

    I think we cross posted, Mike

  • How about you, Hemant? Would you have filled up?

    Probably. It’s free money, and I have a 45 minute commute to work each day. I’d thank the church folk for being very generous, ignore them (or respond back) if they started preaching, and drive off.

    I’m surprised how many people are saying they wouldn’t take the offer…

  • Chaim

    I bet most of the people getting the gas were from the church’s congregation anyways, and the reason they needed the discount on the gas was because they were poor from giving the church all their money so the church can turn around and give it back to them as gas after taking their cut.

  • jen

    I wonder if they’d have turned someone away if they knew they were an atheist.

    The one here in central Ohio made a point of saying that they welcomed everyone, and hoped that some portion of those they’d helped would join them at church (I think they timed this for right before their Easter service) – but that even if there was no church visit, it was worth something to have those helped know who had helped them.

    I bet most of the people getting the gas were from the church’s congregation anyways, and the reason they needed the discount on the gas was because they were poor from giving the church all their money so the church can turn around and give it back to them as gas after taking their cut.

    Actually, while I’d bet this church does collect a hefty share of these people’s money, I’d bet the local “prosperity gospel” church that really fleeces the flock is NOT the church subsidizing gas prices.

  • Yes. I demand payment for what I give and insist on paying for what I recieve.

    Capitalism FTW(for the win).