The Southeast Texas Atheists Helping the Homeless group spent Christmas Day serving meals and distributing care packages to those in need. (It was a special event in addition to the group’s monthly meals and giveaways.)
While basic human empathy for those less fortunate was the driving force behind the event, the group also hoped to show that you don’t need to be religious in order to have good morals. For some Christians, however, this act of compassion couldn’t be divorced from the idea that God must have been using non-believers to enact His will:
Amber Barnhill, a former Christian who participated in the event, told me that comments like these are more than just offensive. They’re a personal violation:
It makes my stomach turn a little… like someone is crossing some kind of personal boundary without my consent. I legitimately feel violated when people claim their personal deity is living inside me and using me to do his work, even if I don’t believe in him. We’re not doing work for your god, we’re doing work for people. From where I’m sitting, whether they’re being nice or mean, all I see is this death-grip that Christian culture has on morality: “It’s mine, all mine, and you can’t have any!”
Though I’m not an atheist myself, I am the child of secular parents, and I completely understand Barnhill’s frustration. Empathy is an inherently human trait that transcends all religions, backgrounds, and cultures… unless you’re a sociopath.
I’m glad these atheists did their part to help people who are less fortunate, and you can support them by purchasing items from their Amazon wishlist.