We hear all the time about the supposed “War on Christianity,” sually from people whose attitudes are decidedly un-Christian. The truth, of course, is the reverse: there is an active war being waged by “Christians” against those who do not adhere to their dogmatic beliefs, beliefs that they would force upon all.
Of course there is no place like the deep south to find this kind of intolerance! Take Spartanburg S.C. for example: an atheist group has had an offer to volunteer at a local soup kitchen turned down because they are non believers and therefore must have “ulterior motives.”
The group, known as Upstate Atheists, is described on its website in this way:
To give back to the community via charity and community service.
Upstate Atheists is a non-profit organization that strives to make the upstate a better place.
We do this by volunteering, helping those in need, doing charity work, and participating in occasional advocacy projects.
Their Motto is “Charity Beyond Belief,” and is intended to show that one need not be religious in order to be a good person and do good things for ones fellow man.
The President of the group, Eve Brannon says that they try to do at least one volunteer project each month and have in the past volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, sponsored Kids for Christmas, worked with the March of Dimes, and sponsored a hole at a charity golf tournament for the benefit of the Make a Wish Foundation.
They contacted the soup kitchen last spring to offer their services but were turned down by Lou Landrum, the kitchen’s executive director.
“We accept volunteer groups of all kinds. But partnering with a volunteer group whose mission is counter to the mission of the Soup Kitchen is something I cannot tolerate. This is from within my heart. Our ministry is to edify God and feed those that are hungry.”
That’s right–helping the hungry without religious motivation is counter to the soup kitchen’s goal of helping the hungry.
Landrum says, “I feel like they’re doing this for the publicity,” despite the group’s longstanding history of charitable deeds.
Landrum alleges that for more than a year she has been, “blasted on Facebook” by the group–however a look at both her personal page and that of the soup kitchen turned up no evidence of anyone from the group having posted anything there. There are many negative comments about Ms. Landrum’s intolerance, but most of them are from people who do not even live in South Carolina. In fact, the group has been very clear that it does not wish for Ms. Landrum to be harassed, deeming it counterproductive. It would appear that Ms. Landrum has a tendency to embellish.
Eve Brannon, Upstate Atheists’ President, said of the incident:
“The first thing she said is, ‘I don’t want you coming in with your atheist T-shirts and ulterior motives.’ I said, ‘We don’t have to wear T-shirts or tell people what we’re about.’ She just wasn’t going to have it.”
Landrum claims that one member was adamant that they were going to wear their T-shirts which, of course is another exaggeration. Where would she get this idea? From the interwebs of course! the comment was in response to an online article posted by the local news site, GoUpstate. Member Kyle Cusick posted,
“I’m a member of this group (although I’m unfortunately unavailable to help this weekend), and I was hoping we’d not only be able to volunteer at the soup kitchen, but also to wear our Upstate Atheists shirts. Not because we are trying to ‘convert’ people to Atheism, but because we want people to understand that Atheists are not evil people.”
That is hardly adamant but, rather a statement of his desires and disappointment that it was even necessary to offer not to wear the shirts.
Upstate Atheists has raised over $2000 to put together more than 300 care packages containing socks, gloves, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, soap, rain ponchos, snacks, shaving razors, antiseptic wipes, deodorants, tissues and gum. They plan to distribute these across the street from the soup kitchen this Saturday on National Make a Difference Day.
“I hope we can provide a package for everyone who needs one. Whatever we have left, we will donate to a homeless shelter in the Upstate.”
In a display of tolerance much greater than that of Ms. Landrum Upstate Atheists has posted recently on their Facebook page, “If you see anyone harassing the director of the soup kitchen, please ask them to stop. That isn’t going to solve anything.”
Perhaps Ms. Landrum will one day open her eyes and see that it is she who is intolerant and not those who she accuses of intolerance — unlikely but maybe — stranger things have happened.
Watch a video on the story below: