In Christchurch, New Zealand, the 0800 Hungry food bank delivers parcels to people who need it. That’s all well and good.
But lately, they’ve been having problems with delivery:
[Food bank manager Kerry Bensemann] said many of the 120 orders could not be delivered on Friday last week, and he had the same problem on Thursday.
Well, that sucks.
I’m sure there are atheists in the area who could help, right?
It won’t matter. They don’t want your help, anyway.
Bensemann, a former truck driver, said that while the warehouse had adequate staff, the charity’s policy was that parcels could be delivered only by members of a church.
He said many church groups were unwilling to help when asked if they could deliver food in their area. One group had told him it was too busy.
He said he had turned down help from non-religious people.
“I know it sounds really, really stupid, but you’ve got to understand how we’re set up.”
He said the aim was to increase church involvement, and having the food delivered by non-religious volunteers would defeat the purpose.
Right… Why have atheists help out the less fortunate when your church needs more members? What’s the purpose of the food bank — to feed the hungry or to function as a church recruitment drive?
Bensemann’s right. That sounds really, really stupid.
Other food banks said they were thankful for any volunteers. City Missioner Michael Gorman said the organisation had its roots in the Anglican Church, but it welcomed any volunteers.
Good for them.
Helping other people isn’t a Christian-only value. Atheists do it, too.
Even if your mission is a worthy one, it’s silly to punish those who need your help because the potential volunteers don’t pass your religious litmus test.
I sent an email to Bensemann letting him know I would be happy to find atheist volunteers for his food bank if he changed his mind. Here’s hoping he takes me up on that offer.