You may recall that the Upstate Atheists from Spartanburg, South Carolina attempted to volunteer at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen this past spring:
Unfortunately, their efforts were thwarted by the group’s director. She said the soup kitchen was a “place of God” and atheists weren’t welcome. The members still offered to volunteer without wearing their group-identifying shirts — it’s all about helping people, not about publicity, after all — but that idea was also rejected.
The atheists then decided they would help people in a different way. They would get a permit from the city, create care packages for the homeless, and give them away across the street from the soup kitchen.
Each care package costs about $15 to assemble. They have socks, gloves, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, snacks, mini flashlights, lip balm, ponchos, etc.
We are hoping to help the homeless prepare for the winter and give them thing they will be able to use.
They wanted to raise $2,000 and you all helped them surpass that goal. (Great job!)
Their big giveaway is taking place this weekend, and the Spartanburg Herald Journal published a piece on the events that led to this Volunteering Schism. Reporter Dustin Wyatt spoke with the soup kitchen’s director, Lou Landrum, and what she said was absolutely appalling:
… Landrum, executive director of the Soup Kitchen, told the Herald-Journal she would resign from her job before she let atheists volunteer and be a “disservice to this community.”
“This is a ministry to serve God” she said. “We stand on the principles of God. Do they (atheists) think that our guests are so ignorant that they don’t know what an atheist is? Why are they targeting us? They don’t give any money. I wouldn’t want their money.“
Yeah! Why don’t atheists give money… that Landrum would never even accept? Why don’t atheists volunteer… even though Landrum would never allow them to volunteer at her soup kitchen? Why are they a disservice to this community… even though Landrum rejects them when they want to help out this community?
There’s no “targeting” going on. The atheists want to help. That’s it. They have no intention of trying to “deconvert” the people who walk through the soup line. Yet the Christian director is refusing to let them help because… because… oh, there’s no good reason, so why bother making an excuse.
In case you’re curious, the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen is, in fact, a religious ministry. They have every right to pick and choose their volunteers. But, as with many of the people who say things in the name of Jesus, when you shine a spotlight on their words, they come off looking like narrow-minded bigots.
I find the atheist ban especially nonsensical when you look at the kitchen’s Mission Statement:
We Believe That:
Every human being should be treated with dignity and respect, therefore we treat all people that eat at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen as our guests and everyone is welcome at our table.
Our volunteers and supporters are a valued asset and we know that they are essential to our success.
We continue to strive to ensure every volunteer and guest has a positive and safe experience with our Soup Kitchen.
Everything we do is to glorify God.
Why do those beliefs go out the window when atheists are the ones who want to help out?
(And what if one of the homeless people was wearing an atheist shirt? Would he be given food?)
“Love the sinner” my ass. If Landrum banned any group other than atheists from volunteering, this would be a much bigger story. (Can you imagine the reaction if the tables were turned and decent Christians who had no intention of proselytizing were rejected from an atheist-run soup kitchen?) I guess when a Christian group treats kind, generous atheists like they’re worthless and evil, it’s just not very newsworthy anymore.
But at least Landrum wishes the atheists well this weekend:
“They can set up across the street from the Soup Kitchen. They can have the devil there with them, but they better not come across the street,” Landrum said.
Those dirty, heathen atheists with their kindness and magnanimity. Why do they have to ruin everything by trying to help those less fortunate?
Jesus would be so pissed off.