It always amuses us here at The Liberal Conservative and Liberal America whenever a group breaks stereotype and does something truly great. Case in point: the group of Kansas atheists who – after being barred from helping for Thanksgiving by a Christian group – decided it was time they really put the pedal to the metal and start helping out.
The Kansas City Rescue Mission has been charity work since the 1950’s, but only started serving meals during the holidays two years ago. In that time, the Kansas City Atheist Council has been thrilled to help the cause. Sadly, they were turned away.
Said development officer for the Kansas City Rescue Mission, Julie Larocco:
We want to share the message with the people we serve that ?God loves you, and you are not alone.? It seemed to us that this (atheist) group probably would not want to deliver those meals.
True that atheists aren’t exactly the “pushing-salvation” types, but what does that have to do with handing out meals at Thanksgiving? According to KCAC President, Josh Hyde:
Kansas City Rescue Mission has decided to use the meals they deliver as a chance to proselytize to its recipients by inserting religious literature into the meals.
Ms. Larocco would admit that this is the case. There will be a religious message delivered with every food box and meal this year. J.T. Eberhard, a former KCAC volunteer, would respond to this fact on patheos.com:
…including messages of god’s love with a meal to the poor is ironic in the extreme. If god cared about them at least as much as the (Atheist Coalition) volunteers, there would be no need for dispensing meals to the needy ? god would’ve taken care of it.
Typical sharp-tongued atheist and we love it!
Aggressive it may be, it’s also really rather true. At least as most Christians understand it. According to them, their god is an all-loving, all-knowing, all-merciful, omnipotent deity who loves everybody. Why wouldn’t he give everybody a little food and water everyday?
Sadly, though, you can’t really change what happened. The KC Rescue Mission made their decision. Fine. However, the KCAC wouldn’t be discouraged from helping the less fortunate over the holiday. According to the Huffington Post, once word of the rejection spread, an “overwhelming” number of agencies reached out, fully ready to accept their help. Eventually, the KCAC settled on the Micah Ministry, the outreach program of the Independence Boulevard Christian Church. Senior Minister Lee Chiaramonte explained to the KCAtheists.org that acceptance of faith is not a requirement to lend a helping hand and that they accepted help from all no matter their faith, sexual orientation, race or any other superficial classification. (See? Like I and other atheists have been saying all along, there are good Christians.) The Huff-Po adds that the KCAC situation seems quite similar to the case of the Upstate Atheists group of South Carolina.
Upstate Atheists approached the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen about helping out; going so far as to say that wouldn’t wear any clothing that promoted their agency. However, they were turned away, because – according to Upstate Atheists President Eve Brannon – the kitchen’s director Lou Landrum claimed that they had “ulterior motives” for helping out. Said Ms. Brannon:
I was upset with the hateful remarks. It certainly wasn’t necessary. However, it turned out well. Because we were turned away, we ended up being able to give the homeless care packages that they needed. The people in need are the ones who truly matter.
Upstate Atheists wound up handing out around 300 care packages containing essentials like gloves, socks, and toothpaste after raising over $2k during an online fundraising campaign.
In response to the situation director Landrum claimed that she had no direct response at this time, explaining to the Christian Post:
We are still taking some time to ensure a thoughtful response to the overall situation.? As a small community organization without a history of controversy, we want to ensure our response clarifies the situation sufficiently and sensitively.
Fair enough. Nobody wants controversy. But wait! There’s more! Ms. Landrum told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that she would resign from her post before allowing an atheist to contribute to the kitchen and it would be a “disservice to (the) community” to do so. She added:
This is a ministry to serve God. 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.
Oh well… At least good people – Christian, atheist or otherwise – can take solace in the truth: there are good people everywhere. Not just in one religion, or state, or country.
It’s what we at The Liberal Conservative call the “Preemptive Strike Philosophy.” Many religious people automatically assume that atheists are going to start attacking them immediately after they discover their faith and so they decide to attack first. They assume atheists are bad or evil or broken, and so they feel the need to “protect” themselves from us. We aren’t zombies, folks. We’re just godless freaks. Relax! All you have to do is check out the “15 Things You Should Never Say To An Atheist” video in order to understand that we aren’t openly or even actively trying to recruit or coax anybody to atheism. We don’t mind your faith. We celebrate your choice while at the same time celebrating ours. Can’t we all just get along?!
That being said, kudos to the Kansas City Atheist Council, South Carolina’s Upstate Atheists, the Independence Boulevard Christian Church, and good people everywhere of every faith who just want to help.
Edited/Published by: SB