Let’s Help These Vandalized Churches

In Bend, Oregon, two churches — Westside Church and Christian Life Center — had graffiti painted on them reading “Praise the FSM” (Flying Spaghetti Monster):

When Pastor John Bluebaugh of Christian Life Center got the news Monday morning, his first thought was, “Not again.”

“Really, what went through my mind was, about six months we were tagged as well,” said Bluebaugh. “It was the same kind of deal — different symbols, different sayings, but the exact same places.”

There are markings left six months ago from vandals who drew Harry Potter-type slogans across the church.

Across town, the Westside Church was tagged with the same graffiti overnight.

More ‘Praise The FSM’ and hateful Bible messages were sprayed across their brand new expansion — some even on the bricks, which now will have to be cut out and replaced.

“Yeah, it’s a bummer what we have to go through and redo all this for a brand new facility,” said Rod Kirk, the director of facilities for Westside Church. “But the bottom line is that God is the one that’s going to get revenge — we aren’t.”

Well, God’s not going to get revenge. But God’s also not going to pay for the clean-up costs.

I don’t know who did this and I don’t know if they’re atheists (though, given the message, they may very well be). But this sort of action is unacceptable. I condemn it wholeheartedly, and I’m sure all of you do, too.

So what can we do about it?

Well, after the Damon Fowler incident, I have confidence that we can raise at least some of the money to help the churches clean up this mess.

I know many of you are uncomfortable giving money to a church, but I hope you who can find it in your heart to help them out in this case. They didn’t deserve this vandalism.

Let’s put the Golden Rule to work. When atheist billboards get vandalized, wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if theist groups offered to do the same for us?

I don’t know how much the cleanup will cost, but if more money is raised than they need, I’ll give the rest to Foundation Beyond Belief (an organization that encourages atheists to give to secular charities).

Please chip in. And please encourage others to do the same by embedding the widget below on your own websites.

(***Update***: I’ve ended this Chipin drive. We’ve raised more than enough. Any funds not going to the churches will be given to Foundation Beyond Belief as stated above.)

Let’s make this happen. I called the churches Tuesday night to talk to them about this and couldn’t reach anyone, but I’ll try again in the morning.

(Thanks to Kim for the link)

***Update***: Bobby Henderson, prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, put out this brief statement:

Last night, vandals spray-painted “Praise the FSM” and pirate-fish on two Christian churches in Bend, Oregon.

This is not ok. This is counter to everything we stand for and acts like these only set back our cause. I don’t know who did this, but I will try to find out.


  • Revyloution

    I live in this town, and I’m a painting contractor. I sent out an email to the churches as soon as I heard what was happening, volunteering my equipment and time to get this fixed.

    I was checking here, Hemant, to send you a note about this. Thanks for being so on top of it!

  • Lynn

    Ok… sorry, but I truly can’t find it in my heart to donate to this. True, they didn’t deserve the vandalism BUT… by giving my money to them I would be assisting them in their proselytization of others. It’s also why I have a hard time giving business to anyone that I know that is xtian and runs a business, because I know that the money I spend at their business will trickle down to a church and be used for proselytizing.

    (Hemant says: No. You’d be giving money toward the clean-up costs and nothing more.)

  • Trina

    I can’t find it in my heart not to. I am staunchly Atheist but helping ANYONE clean up after being criminally vandalized is the right thing to do. What they do with the money isn’t on me, the fact that I had a kind enough heart to give to someone who needed it is.

  • Jeni

    No, I also can’t give money to this cause. I am pretty picky about my causes and donations. I don’t approve of what the patrons of the FSM church did, but I’m not giving my money to a church… They waste tons of money on proselytizing, building exorbitant building that do no good, and paying professional liars.

    (Hemant says: No. You’d be giving money toward the clean-up costs and nothing more.)

  • Kelly Waggoner

    You would be paying for paint and a painter. Not paying for church functions.

  • S-Y

    They have to replace bricks? Can’t they just grind it out or something? Everything else looks like it can be painted over.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    “But the bottom line is that God is the one that’s going to get revenge — we aren’t.”

    For that threatening message alone…for the fact that they believe the vandals deserve eternal punishment in hell…they won’t be getting my help. Sorry. My money, as little as I have, goes only to good causes that truly need it.

    To help a church paint over some scribblings and replace bricks? Sorry, I have better things to donate toward.

  • Drew M.

    @Revyloution:

    That’s very awesome of you!

    More ‘Praise The FSM’ and hateful Bible messages were sprayed across their brand new expansion — some even on the bricks, which now will have to be cut out and replaced.

    Do you know anyone with a sandblaster? There’s usually no need to cut out tagged bricks.

  • http://dalestaines@twitter.com Dale

    I would help clean up if I was near the area, but I feel badly about giving churches money – like I wouldn’t give a drunk money for self improvement – I’d give a sandwich or a bath…sponge bath…with rose oil….okay, I gotta go.

  • Steve

    If this were someone’s home, I’d help. But I don’t have it in me to help a church in any way. I live in Alabama where there seems to be more churches than people. It’s not easy keeping it real here, and I get a lot of shit for being a rational human being. But back to the subject… I’d support a human being, but not one of these poison machines.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Very good idea.

    Chipped in.

  • http://atheisticsrsbizness.wordpress.com/ Eli

    I can certainly ‘find it in my heart’ to give to this cause- this money isn’t going towards church sponsored activities, it’s going towards helping victims of a crime with the expenses of fixing the result.

    As Hemant pointed out, any excess funds will go to the Foundation Beyond Belief. It’s probably worth donating simply as a medium to the foundation- it can’t hurt to kill two birds with one stone by helping a group of people out *and* potentially supporting a secular cause, can it?

  • http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com Cuttlefish

    I donated.

    It starts somewhere. We can point to churches doing wrong; they can point to the vandals, as (very arguably) atheists. Someone has to be bigger. Their book speaks of forgiveness; their director of facilities says god will get revenge. I have no book–*I* speak of forgiveness.

    Maybe it will change an opinion. Maybe not. At minimum, someone has to clean up that mess. Why me? Hey, it’s my world, too.

    It starts somewhere.

  • Ben

    Yeah, it’s a great gesture, but I can’t. Lynn and Jeni were right in a way. Any improvement to church property indirectly contributes to their activities. It’s not significant, but that’s not the point.

    On the other hand, if I lived there, I would offer free labor to clean it up. There’s just something I can’t explain about giving money, even for a specific use, that makes me uncomfortable.

    I can’t help but retort that they should use the money the save by not having to pay taxes.

  • Tenley

    I agree with Yet Another Atheist…

  • http://www.spellwight.com Debbie

    I donated what I could because I think this will help in proving not all Atheists are jerks.

    A point in our favor is a point in our favor.

  • adam

    interesting

    I don’t have much at the moment in way of disposable cash but I gave a few bucks.

    Btw while I can understand not wanting to give money to a church, helping to remove graffiti from repeatedly vandalized building is hardly going to help them proselytize.

    plus what Debbie Said

    • PSelley

      ANYTHING you give to a church helps the proselytize.  I would not put it past the church people to have vandelized it themselves for the publicity.

  • Ann

    I also do not approve of the vandalism. However, I’m not going to donate to a church.

    “Let’s put the Golden Rule to work. When atheist billboards get vandalized, wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if theist groups offered to do the same for us?”

    It would be nice. Lovely, in fact. But do you really think any christian or religious group would ever do that for those despicable immoral atheists? Atheist property gets vandalized way more than churches. I rarely if ever hear about anyone religious objecting to it.

    The cynic in me thinks of the whole Gary Gygax/D&D thing where his fans donated gobs of money in his memory to his favorite (christian) charity. They refused it because D&D is the work of the devil! I would not be surprised if this church did the same thing when they realize the money is coming from a group they hate.

  • http://pedagogic-verses.blogspot.com Luc Duval

    Revyloution and Ben: Your sentiments match my knee-jerk idea. It would be beautiful to see a local group of atheists actually do the labor (and provide the materials if possible) to clean up the graffiti.

    • PaulS

      Any secular person who helps a church is nuts.  Churches are parasites in our society, paying no tax dollars on the fleecing of their sheep.  My opinion is that they should have never been allowed to accumulate untaxed money to purchase and maintain a building in the first place.

  • Tricia

    I contributed. It stinks that anyone should have to deal with vandalism and I see no problem in helping clean it up. If righting a wrong isn’t enough reason to help out, please consider that as long as this FSM graffiti stays up it gives the impression that atheists in general are delinquent jackasses.

  • Vahdrok

    It will cost the church money to fix the vandalism. If you donate money, you alleviate their need to pay for the vandalism. They now have money to continue on being whatever kind of church they are.

    I’m not donating but I’m not saying that others shouldn’t either. I’m just saying that you can go on all day about how the money is only going to the repairs and not to the church’s activities but in the end it frees them up to keep on keeping on.

    Judging by their desire for their god to strike down the vandals that caused the damage, I’m guessing they are at least somewhat conservative.

  • Bee

    I disapprove highly of the vandalism, but I refuse to ever give one cent of mine to a church ever again, unless I knew for a fact it was not going to go towards the brainwashing of others. I’m glad that there are better, less angry atheists out there though. Kudos to you all. <3

  • Synapse

    I as a remote will help provide the $ for materials, and I hope the first poster and others help provide the labor. Donation made.

    I must be the change I want to see in the world.

  • Anonymous

    “But the bottom line is that God is the one that’s going to get revenge — we aren’t.”

    It made me ill when I heard him say that on the news report.

  • Stu

    I have no problem donating something for this cause but what if the church refuses this donation?

    That is, if you approach them honestly and let them know that this charitable donation is coming from a group of atheists, what will be done with this donation if the church refuses it strictly because of who it’s coming from?

    I hope this would not be the case but it could be a very real possibility. Is there an alternative charity that these funds can be donated to if this one falls through?

    (Hemant says: If they refuse it, the money will go to Foundation Beyond Belief.)

  • http://ology.net Gene Boggs

    “God is the one that’s going to get revenge…”

    Nice Old Testament type quote there, Rod. Hint: There’s this thing called the New Testament and this guy named Jesus. You might want to check ‘em out sometime.

  • Stu

    “I must be the change I want to see in the world.”

    One of my favorite quotes Synapse…

    Donation also made.

  • mike dave

    There are children starving in the world, people going without vacinations and dieing of preventable diseases and you want to give many to fix churchs?

  • Lady Copper

    I think it is a really cool idea. I cannot afford to donate right now, but I am glad to see the widget already collecting $. While it is totally understandable that many do not want to donate, I do think that when I was a Christian, having this happen to my church building and then a bunch of stranger atheists come in and clean it up would have completely blown my mind. It would have made a huge impression and will definitely be a big deal to a lot of the people that hear about it, even if not much is ever said about it.

  • http://politicsandpucks.blogspot.com Mike Brownstein

    Seriously if others see this gesture, this could be very good for us to build positive social capital in the long term!

  • Thorny

    On one hand vandalism is usually wrong but on the other the church has to spend money to clean up so that takes away money from the church which is always good.

    Can’t we just have nuclear war already and then build a better, secular society.

  • Tessa

    I think it’s a really nice gesture from those of you that chose to donate and I hope the church realizes it.

    I personally wont donate for reasons stated above: the quote about god taking revenge totally turned me off. I felt bad for them until I got to that line.

    I am really curious to hear their response to your offer. Like others, I am a bit skeptical that they will even accept money from atheists.

  • Dan

    Thank you for setting this up, what a great idea! I’d just like to echo what Lady Cooper said. Many, maybe even most, Christians have awful stereotypes of atheists (I know I did when I was an evangelical Christian) and something like this can really open people’s eyes to how generous many of us heathens can be, even if we absolutely disagree with the philosophy of the people we are helping.

    Thanks again, and please continue to use this blog to notify us of ways we can help other people.

  • microbiologychick

    Everyone is talking about paying for the painting, but we seem to be forgetting the perpetrator. I’d bet money on it being a closeted atheist teen who is forced to go to this church. It just seems personal.

  • Ian Nieves

    Those churches hardly need Atheist funds to remove minor graffiti. Pulpits are always awash with money fleeced from the sheep – let them use that for the whitewashing. As many other posters said, I only give to worthy causes. Why should I wish to fund organizations that demonize my views and promote beliefs and causes I frankly find abhorrent and inimical to my values and political goals? If a Nazi meeting hall was vandalized, should rationalists give to its restoration fund too?

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    What “hateful Bible messages”?

    I’m in part, torn, I don’t know this church, what it stands for or what eye and mind pollution it has on it’s if any marquee or in it’s practices, nor how much it is subsidized with my tax dollars. That said, while I agree with the slogans shown I don’t think they should be put on someone else’s private property in any costly to remove manner, rain washable water color would have been a better choice.
    The choice to wage a vandalism war cuts both ways and while I applaud that the taggers didn’t use arson(and hope that never happens), I can to a small degree understand the urge to seek tit for tat. I wish the taggers would put their efforts to less universally condemnable creativity in parts of the country where it’s more needed.
    I’m not in a position to contribute to this or any other cause with money but can understand the urge to.
    I hope in the future any direct action creativity can be more imaginative and less counter productive. Costly to remove vandalism to make a statement is amateur.

  • Tracy

    This isn’t about giving money to a church. It’s about making a screwed up situation right. It took me years to get up the guts to put an FSM emblem on my car. Now I am proud to call myself a Pastafarian (can I get a RAmen?). Whoever the yahoos were that thought this was a good idea do NOT represent The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. As a now fairly vocal follower of His Noodly Goodness, I feel compelled to send a message that this behavior is unacceptable. And, when one of us acts in an unacceptable way, we will attempt to make it right. Now only if the Catholic Church acted so responsibly…

    Thanks, Hemant.

  • Larry Meredith

    $350 is more than enough to fix a few bricks and splash on some paint.

    I would donate for this cause if I knew my money was going towards it. But at the level it’s already hit, any money I donate now will just go to some random charity through Foundation Beyond Belief instead of the specific cause I wish to donate to.

  • HamsterWheel

    More proof that the whole F.S.M. thing has gotten completely out of control. What started out as a funny little academic joke has morphed into a giant social club for wankers and dipshits who just happen to be atheists, complete with their own line of merchandise.

    F.S.M. became a worn-out, juvenile cliche a long time ago, so let’s all grow up and bury it already.

  • Timothy

    I honestly would donate, if I had a job and was making money. I understand why people say they won’t though.

  • Alena

    I’m unemployed and would donate if I could, but we are having trouble making ends meet. I’ve never been the type to accept charity in the past, but in the last few weeks a friend talked me into going to a soup kitchen to help since money has been tight. The soup kitchen is run by the church, so I felt even worse about accepting help. The church has never expected any conditions for proving my family a meal. I have never been asked if I belonged to the church. Neither prayers nor moments of silence are done. I have not been asked, let alone, pressured to come to Sunday services. Even Christians can be good, caring people that do not make their religion a requirement to help those in need.
    I think it’s shameful that a fellow atheist would decline their help because other human beings do not share their same ideology. It’s petty and wrong no matter what side you are on.

  • http://www.cvaas.org Calladus

    agreed. Let’s not be hypocrites. I chipped in.

  • Bob Margolese

    I can only say that I do not announce that I’m an atheist every time I give to a charity. I have no other motive other than to donate to a cause that I think is worthy of my consideration. That being said, I am very particular in my choice of charities and do my research to insure that I not donate to any organization with any religious affiliation and that would certainly include a house of worship.

    I appreciate the opinion of people who can see beyond the harm of the religion itself and the concept of contributing to that harm by offering them assistance in this but I hold no responsibility simply because someone who happens to agree with my opinion on the existence of a god also happens to choose to voice that opinion in a childish and unethical manner.

    I would have no issues with seeing that person do the labour in order to fix what he or she has done and perhaps see some jail time for his or her crime but I cannot offer my personal assistance to a church without feeling like a hypocrite.

  • AteoAbsurdo

    //More proof that the whole F.S.M. thing has gotten completely out of control. What started out as a funny little academic joke has morphed into a giant social club for wankers and dipshits who just happen to be atheists, complete with their own line of merchandise.//

    Hasty generalization. Where’s the logic, people?

    Aside from that, not donating to a church merely because it is a church seems rather bigoted to me. Some churches are more good than not in my honest opinion, though as others pointed out we do not know much about these in particular.

    Cheers to Alena!

  • 7fta

    I was disgraced to watch this on the news last night. I am a Bend resident and cringed when I heard the report. It’s a nice gesture to offer to pay for the cleanup but if you knew anything about Westside church, they’re the last church that needs extra money to pay for a little cleanup. They are the darling church of the Foursquare movement and throw money around like it’s not in short supply. They purchased adjacent land for their latest expansion at the height of the real estate bubble and could have saved millions had they listened to an all knowing god who surely would have had advanced knowledge of the worlds worst financial collapse. Everything is state of the art there, a full court basketball gym, multiple high definition video screens, their own television and recording studio and on and on and on… Any moneys should go to Revyloution for stepping up to help with the cleanup.

  • http://www.harvardhumanist.org Jonathan Figdor

    Whoever vandalised those churches, not cool. How would you like it if someone trashed your local atheist group’s meetup spot?

  • Chris

    I would give money to this, as Hement says it is just for cleaning up the churches. I think that we atheist get a bad enough rap. I don’t think this damage was done by “adults” and I don’t like a bunch of kids adding to the bad reputation atheist already have. By giving money to the cleanup it just says that most of us are responsible people.

  • ben

    God is going to get revenge, huh?

    Maybe He could just be merciful, and chip in some money for the repairs?

  • Claudia

    “But the bottom line is that God is the one that’s going to get revenge — we aren’t.”

    That’s a threat of hell, which is despicable and morally indefensible. On the other hand, I’d probably say some nasty and maybe indefensible things if someone spray-painted my property. I like of this idea because it’s the right thing to do, especially given how we complain about all the “nice Christians” or “moderate Muslims” who never call their own to task.

  • Seantzizl

    I suppose pitching in to have the church repaired on behalf of the atheist and fsm community is the right thing to do. However, I highly doubt if a building for secularist was vandalized by Christians, that anybody in the Christian community would feel the need to do the same.

    So while I’m torn and in no way think any atheist should feel obligated in righting the wrong that some other atheist did, it would at least send a strong message that the secular community really does have the moral high ground.

  • Gib

    I agree with the others to whom the comment about God getting revenge sickened them.

    I also agree that no matter if you say the money is going only towards fixing the vandalism, if the church was otherwise going to use its own money for the cleanup, any donations are in effect donating directly to the church for whatever purposes it sees fit.

  • Jamie

    The “God is the one that’s going to get revenge” line makes me wonder… when Hemant offers the donated money to the church, will its members/preachers say that we atheists donated that money because we fear God? I think the FSM spray-painting was awful, but that last line takes away any sympathy I could’ve had for that church. I would’ve expected it in, say, Arkansas or Missouri, but Oregon? C’mon.

  • Gordon

    Churches already have plenty of untaxed money. Everyone is already subsidising one or more churches.

    I understand the gesture you are trying to make, but I can not, in good conscience, give money to a church ever again.

  • http://www.Atheists.org/Texas_State_Page Joe Zamecki

    Pffft. I think it’s a scam. The church was vandalized in almost the same locations before with Harry Potter-oriented messages. Now it’s the FSM. And look how nice and neat those tags are. It must’ve been a relaxing night. lol

    This is exactly what a crazy church in the USA will eventually try. They get to be the victims again, and then lash out against their perceived little enemies, while no one can point to exactly who did it. It’s perfect! Since it’s not a violent crime, the police won’t investigate enough to find out if the church did it. I mean, what exactly is the evidence that anyone in our community did this? I see none being talked about. One thing about graffiti is that you don’t have to write what you necessarily agree with.

    I say don’t get suckered in. Besides, they don’t pay for damage done to us by Christian vandals, right? Okay. And their God-threat ought seal the deal.

  • http://livingafterfaith.com Deanna Joy Lyons

    I decided that the good publicity for atheists and the idea that it’s the right thing to do were good enough reasons to donate. Good on you, Hemant!

  • http://pinkydead.com David McNerney

    The important message should be that atheism, or more importantly the decline of religion, will come about through legal means. Face it – we have the law on our side.

    There is no need to resort to criminal damage – leave that to the Christians.

    This kind of thing just makes the Christians more entrenched and gives them ammunition for their false stereotypes.

  • KP

    There are people in the world with real problems that genuinely need help and you’re raising money to clean the wall of a church instead?

    Some humanist.

  • Charles Black

    This is an improvement of the public image of non-religious people presented on a silver platter.

    They can’t accuse us being selfish & ungodly when people see us helping.

  • Richard Wade

    The church members are human beings. Regardless of whatever resentment you may have toward religion, Christianity, or even these particular churches, do not allow your bitterness or cynicism to de-humanize them in your mind. You de-humanize yourself in the process. There is far too much of that all around the world now, and everyone who practices it has their oh, so compelling reasons.

    Those “reasons” are based on emotion, not reason.

    This is a chance to humanize ourselves in the eyes of some people who may never have really given their prejudice toward us a second thought. It’s also a chance to give a second thought to our own prejudice.

    I’ve been donating too much to things lately, but this is important.

    $100 donated.

    Hemant, I suggest that you hold on to any surplus money for a while before donating it to FBB. The vandalism has happened before, and may yet again before the perpetrator is either caught or moves on. Vandalism is cheap and easy. Clean up is costly and hard.

  • Anonymous

    Joe Zamecki, if you see the whole thing, they also tagged scriptural passages; ones about commands to murder children. No need for tinfoil here. This seems legit.

    (Not to say this kind of thing doesn’t happen. Scientology has a nasty habit of making fake bomb threats against themselves when they’re being protested)

  • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com considertheteacosy

    I don’t have the spare cash at the moment to donate to things, but I do want to say that I agree with the principle of this.
    If religious types think that atheists are greedy and immoral, then what better way to show them otherwise than to be thoughtful and generous? Think about it this way- next time anyone in that church gets up to talk about the Evil Atheists (TM), they’ll have to say that knowing that they’re talking about those nice folks who chipped in to fix their building. Next time someone who used to go to that church comes out as an atheist, the people they tell will already know of at least one time that open atheists were lovely, generous people.
    Better than us being seen as simply those assholes who vandalised their church, eh?

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Atheists aren’t a cohesive group or a community. All we are are people who lack belief in gods. You can’t build a community on a negative and we aren’t responsible for every negative action of people who we hold similar views to us.

    The ones who should be paying for the repairs and decoration are the vandals. If the culprits can’t be found then the church should contact their insurance company. It is a nice gesture to offer to help but as the marker is already at $580 and the cost of paint isn’t that high I would think that we atheists have done enough. To be frank I think that publicly condemning vandalism is enough and paying for the repairs is too much. It strikes me as an admission of culpability in some ways and we’ve done nothing wrong.

  • Oregonian

    What if we raise too much?

    With someone donating labor and equipment, all they have to pay for is supplies. Paint isn’t that expensive, is it?

    I fully support raising funds for this effort. It’s the right thing to do. But beyond that, I wouldn’t want to support any other church efforts. I would put a condition on the donation, that it be used only for repairs to the vandalism. And then think about where any remaining funds raised should go.

    (Hemant says: All excess funds will go to Foundation Beyond Belief)

  • Hannah Mae

    @KP

    Just because Hemant is taking an opportunity to show theists that we atheists can be just as helpful and caring as they think they are doesn’t mean he isn’t a humanist. Yes. There are several different things you could put your money towards like donating money for vaccinations in third world countries or helping the AIDS Foundation or whatnot. But whatever happened to helping out locally too? Being a humanist doesn’t mean helping out only the bigger problems. It applies to the smaller, more local ones too. If you don’t feel comfortable donating to help remove the graffiti, simply don’t. Go ahead and donate your money to causes you deem more worthy of your efforts. But don’t be so shallow and ridiculous to tell people they can’t call themselves humanists simply because they feel the need to help out with this vandalism. Let’s be rational here. I mean, isn’t that kind of the point of atheism?

  • Hermann

    Hi!

    Thanks! Yes, this will help show many more christians that not all atheists are jerks!
    Not that I believed it, but it will help improve relations I believe!

    Hermann, christian – Germany

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    I would have donated if they didn’t put that last part in their press release. But they immediately turned it into a hateful message, so there’s no way I’m going to fund their clean up. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s like giving money to someone who spits in your face.

  • jemand

    I hope Revyloution gets to do some of the work and get a bit of the donated cash, if they plan on refusing his services because he’s an atheist than they should have to refuse the money too…

    But I donated. I dunno, it’s possible this could even get on the news, or something, and I wanted to bump up the number of contributors.

  • Nico

    No, I don’t have it in me to donate to this church.
    The police should investigate and the culprits should pay for the damage.

  • Carlie

    Think about it this way- next time anyone in that church gets up to talk about the Evil Atheists (TM), they’ll have to say that knowing that they’re talking about those nice folks who chipped in to fix their building. Next time someone who used to go to that church comes out as an atheist, the people they tell will already know of at least one time that open atheists were lovely, generous people.
    Better than us being seen as simply those assholes who vandalised their church, eh?

    Exactly. I think it’s a lovely idea.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I agree with some of the posters above who think that this is likely to be the work of a disaffected churchgoing kid. (Certainly “No True Pastafarian” would violate our flimsy moral guidelines so blatantly). I agree we need to offer to clean the damage, and do so publicly. If the churches take us up on the offer to clean it up, the same news sources who ran the story should be contacted to see if they will run a follow-up. And if the churches turn us down, we should make sure we tell that to the news outlets as well. We have an opportunity here to dispel some of the negative public image that churches “paint” us with, and we should take advantage of that.

    I also think that we should avoid handing the churches money directly, and instead use it to cover Revyloution’s supply costs.

  • FyreFry

    I am torn on this, because I think it is a nice gesture, and I do instinctively feel like it is the “right” thing to do for a lot of reasons. Then again, there are a lot of *better* things that should take priority over a vandalized church. There are people in my own community, and yours too, that need this assistance more than the churches. I’m taking any money I would have spent toward this cause and giving it to them.

    I just can’t see how giving any church any money for anything can take priority over all the *actual* needs for charity in the world. Nobody’s hungry, hurt, or in danger, here. It’s a few bricks for Christ’s sake. Wah. Vandalism happens all the time, to public and private property, and usually nobody gives two craps. The churches will get plenty of help from its membership and the rest of the community. They don’t need us…but lots of others do. Consider donating your money more wisely.

    The smart-a$$ part of me would like to send those churches an invoice for the taxes I’ve paid that have funded non-secular organizations and call it even.

  • Marguerite

    Tough call, and I can see both sides here. It would be easier to be sympathetic if one of the churches hadn’t brought up God’s vengeance. Also, I worry that any effort to help will just come across to them as “an admission of culpability,” as hoverfrog put it.

    Even so, it seems to me like the right thing to do. But we’re up over $850 now– surely that’s more than enough to paint over a bit of vandalism?

  • Josh

    Just throwing this out there, the vandal is probably like 14 with little to no understanding of any causes or movements, etc. Last time it was Harry Potter, this time the FSM, next time it’ll probably be about Glee.

    By the way, I wouldn’t feel comfortable donating any money, but if I lived in the area, I might go see if they needed a hand. It would depend on the church though.

  • JustAGuy

    It stinks to spend money to cleanup a church in which I don’t believe.

    It will be just a bit harder for the church to paint atheists as jerks given the gesture. (Last point wins for me.)

    Final note, I think it would be fun to have a tagline at the bottom of all the cleaned up areas – “Graffiti cleanup paid for by a bunch of Godless heathens.”

  • Luther

    I contributed. Lets keep the “Monster” out of FSM!

    We should set the example we would like to see when Xtians deface our billboards.

  • dauntless

    “But the bottom line is that God is the one that’s going to get revenge — we aren’t.”

    This is such a hateful, narcissistic message that also happens to be bad theology. The vandals are going to hell for eternity for causing a few hundred dollars worth of damage! How could any rational person want to financially support an organization that has such a warped view of reality? Atheists donating money to repair the damage will not help those Christians see that atheists are good people. It will make us all look guilty as we attempt to buy our way out of “God’s revenge”.

  • dauntless

    @Richard Wade

    I’ve been donating too much to things lately, but this is important.

    $100 donated.

    Maybe this is to alleviate your guilt for vandalizing all those “With God, all things are possible” slogans.

  • Val

    This is a direct quote from one of those church’s websites: “Are you struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions? Have you lived as a homosexual but now are looking for a way out. [sic] You have come to the right place. New Dawn offers hope and help to people seeking freedom from homosexuality.”

    I cannot give money FOR ANY REASON to an organization that presents this sort of message to gay children. I promise you, it can destroy them and no positive atheist public relations outcomes justify funding an organization that drives children to kill themselves. These organizations need to be stopped, not propped up with misguided donations.

    I’m very disappointed by this effort. There are better ways for us to establish our good intentions, surely.

  • Alex

    Being responsible is important, but I think it’s more important to find out who did this and hold them accountable. Also it would be nice to make sure they were really atheists.

  • Christine

    After serious consideration of both sides, I donated. I think it is important for us as a community to stand up and say that this vandalism is not acceptable.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    I think it’s fine for atheists to contribute to the repair and clean up of this vandalism, especially since the perpetrator hi-jacked the FSM and other atheist symbols.

    And just for fun, here are some other questions to consider:

    Would you contribute to remove swastikas painted on a synagogue?

    What if someone vandalized a building owned by the KKK? Klan members are human beings too.

  • http://defendingreason.wordpress.com/ Ben

    This is a direct quote from one of those church’s websites: “Are you struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions? Have you lived as a homosexual but now are looking for a way out. [sic] You have come to the right place. New Dawn offers hope and help to people seeking freedom from homosexuality.”

    I cannot give money FOR ANY REASON to an organization that presents this sort of message to gay children.

    This.

    I don’t condone the actions of the vandals, but seriously people, your money is going to support gay-hating bigots. You’re already paying for it through the church’s tax-free status but you would give money to people who emotionally and psychologically abuse gay youth?

    Sure, you might win some brownie points as atheists, but at what cost? Why are you trying to win their favour?

  • http://www.negativentropy.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Gray

    Donated. I love this idea. Let’s show them compassion and kindness with no strings attached.

  • http://Whowilldefendgod? John D

    Let me think…. send $50 for cancer research or send $50 to a church to clean up their vandalized bricks. haha… cancer research wins!

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Dauntless:

    Atheists donating money to repair the damage will not help those Christians see that atheists are good people. It will make us all look guilty as we attempt to buy our way out of “God’s revenge”.

    This. These churches aren’t going to stop and say “gee, atheists really are good people.” They’re not going to want to change their ways and preach inclusiveness because some atheists helped clean up graffiti. This next Sunday, they’ll be preaching the same Hell-fire on gays, on atheists, and on immoral women who dare to want to not be pregnant.

    @Darwin’s Dagger:

    If they made statements like this church has, then no. (So I probably wouldn’t clean up the Klan HQ…)

    Otherwise, of course I would.

  • Heather R

    I don’t mean to judge anyone, because how you choose to spend or not spend your money is rightly your choice, but hearing the argument that you won’t donate because it will (indirectly) give them funds to continue proselytizing reminds me of a similar argument I’ve been hearing lately.

    “Even though the funds are by law prohibited from being used to fund abortion services, we can’t possibly earmark state/federal funds for Planned Parenthood, because any state/federal money will free up private funds for abortion services!” (a paraphrase of many, many arguments I have been unfortunate enough to have heard from politicians of both political flavors)

    I’m not saying that there haven’t been many good reasons listed not to donate to this particular cause, and this isn’t an attempt to convince people to donate if they don’t want to, but it just feels a little hypocritical to use an argument that many people thought was ridiculous when it was being used to try to justify cutting off Planned Parenthood.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    Even if I had extra cash, I’d have to decline this one. After finding out that 1) the pastor threatened hell, 2) the church is state-of-the-art and flush with $$, and 3) the church has an ex-gay program I have zero desire to help them.

    I grew up gay in Arkansas with threats of hell drilled into me my entire childhood. That many of the slogans were Harry Potter quotes and bible verses about violence to children(is that true?) points to someone young. If that kid had to endure being threatened with hell I can understand his/her anger. Doesn’t excuse the deed, but no way will I enable such hatred.

    Can we donate to an LGBT youth cause in the church’s name instead? That would send a message.

  • Michael

    As a teen back in the early 90s, I was a member of a fundamentalist church. My parents were divorced, largely because my father had come out as an athiest and my mom and my church made sure he was miserable thereafter.

    He got fed up with the constant hounding, and moved out of state to be closer to his family. I didn’t get to see him much for a few years. Then he died.

    I desperately wanted to go to the funeral but couldn’t afford the means to get a bus there on my own. Mom wouldn’t help, and neither would anyone at church because they knew he’d been an atheist. His family wouldn’t answer phone calls from our number.

    A neighbor in our apartment building found me on the building steps looking pretty despondent, and asked me what was wrong. I told her. She gave me a hug and asked when the funeral was. Asked me to wait right there because she had to make a call.

    A couple minutes later she came back and told me she’d gotten off work that day, and to meet her outside at 6AM and she’d drive me.

    I got to the funeral and it meant a lot to me to be able to be there. On the drive back I asked my neighbor about her beliefs. She told me she had none. She was an atheist.

    It blew my mind that the only person kind enough to help a 17 year old get to his dad’s funeral and say goodbye was someone who didn’t even believe in God. I began to examine my religion carefully, questioning the idea that the only way to be a good person was through being a Christian. Eventually I realized I didn’t need any god to be who I wanted to be, and that the very idea of a god to begin with was ridiculous and harmful.

    I know this is long, but it’s all just to say to those here who are against helping a church clean up vandalism:

    Most of us aren’t the amoral assholes many Christians imagine us to be, that this graffiti unfortunately paints us as to them, but we’ll never convince them of that through reason. Sometimes one kind gesture can be all it takes to make a Christian see atheists in a different way.

  • http://www.foundationbeyondbelief.org Dale McGowan

    Thanks Hemant. This is a powerful gesture and the right thing to do.

  • Bill Snedden

    There are good reasons both for and against donating, but I’ve got to point out that this:

    It will cost the church money to fix the vandalism. If you donate money, you alleviate their need to pay for the vandalism. They now have money to continue on being whatever kind of church they are.

    Is NOT one of them. This is the same kind of broken logic that’s behind the conservative/tea-bag move to defund Planned Parenthood and force women who have abortions to undergo tax audits.

    Personally, I think that the culprits should be apprehended and forced to scrub out their “handiwork” with a toothbrush, but if you’re going to argue against donating, at least use valid reasoning.

  • Val

    @Bill Snedden

    It is too one of the reasons to avoid giving an organization money. You can’t just say “nuh uh” and drop the mic. Just because your opponent uses that logic to ill-conceived ends does not make it bad logic.

    What part of the quoted statement is not true? “It will cost the church money to fix the vandalism”. True. “If you donate money, you alleviate their need to pay for the vandalism.” True. “They [will] now have money to continue on being whatever kind of church they are.” Also true.

    Where’s the logical breakdown here?

  • Neoteny

    Well, the more I hear about these churches, the less I want to help them out. Having said that, I am reminded of all the religious leaders who cause ceaseless exasperation for not condemning whatever act of religious intolerance is (or isn’t) in the news at the time. I have to put my money where my mouth is on this one. I am happy to take a small part of the responsibility for speaking out against violence (against property and pocketbook, at least), and for consistency of my hippie pacifism. Their beliefs are bizarre, offensive, and actively harmful, but I have to maintain that there is a standard of responsibility to which atheists (well, everyone, but atheists especially) need to hold ourselves, and this circumstance, unfortunately, is included.

    To the person(s) responsible for the vandalism: stop making us feel bad for churches! They don’t deserve our sympathy even if we are ethically obligated to provide it!

  • jarppu

    I feel like if I donate, I’m admitting that the atheist community is behind this. Maybe I would be more willing to donate if this vandalizing was an actual organized action by some part of the atheist community. We don’t even know if this was an atheist who did this.

    Besides I don’t feel comfortable giving money to a church.

  • Erik T

    There’s no way I’m giving money to a church, but since atheists are paying for it to be fixed I certainly hope you plan to put out a press release about it. It will be a relatively meaningless gesture if only the christians at that church know about it.

  • atoswald

    I agree with Val and Ben. I cannot give to an organization that chooses to spread hurtful, bigoted messages. The money isn’t JUST going to clean up the mess, it will alleviate the burden the church or their insurance would have to cover, which frees their funds to continue spreading ignorance. I do not condone the vandalism, but there is no proof that the culprit really is an atheist. And, if the vandal IS an atheist, it does not make me responsible for his/her actions. In theory the donation is a good idea, and I can understand the decisions to donate to the cause, as it is always a good idea to be a decent citizen and human being, I just can’t get behind this one.

    And the one question I have has not been addressed in this board yet; How exactly is the message that a bunch of atheists donated to the clean up going to become public knowledge? It would be my cynical tendency to believe that the church will either loudly reject the atheist donation, or accept the donation as quietly as possible to avoid the positive spin in our direction. Since the collection plate has already been passed, will someone be working to make sure the atheist origin of the donation will be publicized?

  • Justin P.

    Am I the only one that can NOT get behind donating to a Church, even for something like this? I do not think what was done is an okay thing. Let me be clear about that. But I do find it odd that Atheists feel they have to donate money to fix a building that hosts and supports bigotry and hatred. Regardless if they actually are aware of what’s in the Bible. They supposedly worship it and I want nothing to do with such ignorance and stupidity. If this vandalizing is such a problem, ask the God you spend so much time praying to and ask him to fix it. Why would God if he is real allow a holy place of his to be desecrated?

  • http://www.unequally-yoked.com Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    Glad to join you on this. I’ve asked my blog readers to donate here: Turn the Other Check. One suggestion, if you’re uncomfortable with helping a church at all, match your donation with an equal gift to a cause you support! Mine went to the ACLU.

  • mattincinci

    no! i donate to enough charities already, and i’m certain that this church like many churches, rakes in the cash every weekend…enough to buy the paint to fix it! by the pictures posted that looks like all is needed! donate your cash to Atheists Helping the Homeless!! at least your money will go towards a good cause http://www.atheistshelpingthehomeless.org/AHTH2/AHTH/help.php

  • Randy

    I think a public statement condemning the vandelism should be issued by a few atheist organiozations rather than giving them money. I’m sorry, their non-tax status and plenty of sheople them money every sunday really makes it hard for me to give them money. Like was it was already said, they say nothing about vandels hitting our billboards (other than giving each other high-fives back in the office).

  • Frank

    I agree that this behavior is unacceptable, I also condemn it, and if they ever find out who did it, I support prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. However, I will not be donating money to this. I’m assuming that these church take religious tax exemptions, and that the amount they have unconstitutionally not paid in taxes is greater than the repair costs. Given that, as far as I am concerned, they still owe the rest of society, including us, money, not the other way around.

  • g

    Donate to churches? No thanks. I already do that, unwillingly, through taxes. Let them foot the bill.

    Also, I’d like to add that I have no sympathy for them at all. They spread all kinds of hate and vandalism, it’s only right they receive some in return.

    When they go on live coast to coast TV and apologize and agree to condemn and prosecute all the hatemongers, the child abusers and vandals in their ranks, then I’ll change my tune and not until.

    Religion does not deserve our money, nor our respect.

    Shame on anyone who has donated already.

  • Azadeth

    You’re obviously trying to make some sort of point here. I hope you will reconsider when the church inevitably takes your money and then makes a point of not telling anybody where it came from.

    Perhaps you need to be reminded that martyrdom is for Christians. Suckers.

  • Price

    It is ridiculous to donate to a church for ANYTHING. When the KKK has a meeting hall desecrated, you want to donate to that too? If it makes you feel good to help the enemies of reason, these racist, homophobic, misogynistic, self-righteous a**holes who would gladly put you to the sword if only the government would make it legal, go right ahead. However, I don’t feel guilty for being Male, being White, or being Southern. And I DAMN sure don’t feel guilty about being an Anti-theist. I can only assume Guilt is the reason you want to help. Why else would anyone help an organization that’s main purpose is to do away with people like you. To make you the enemy of society, a pariah, an outcast. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard my Jewish Uncle talk about the times he and his fellow brothers help rebuild Nazi occupied buildings and offices after Allied forces destroyed them because, even though they were at odds ideologically, helping the Nazis was the “right thing to do.” Asinine!

  • http://www.skeptict.org Sean Gillespie

    I really don’t like the revenge bit because it really does speak to the character of the church. This is one of those places where wishy washy “We hope they find the love of God” or some such is far more appropriate than “My angry sky wizard will crush them!”. There are churches where I would be happy to help the cleanup effort, but this one sounds like it may be the type where public condemnation and leaving the police to handle it is enough.

    However, I do applaud you for the attempt to make things right. I think I want to sit on this and see how things develop before I commit to anything. Is there any way that this money can be directed to cleanup efforts without ever touching the Church’s coffers?

  • JS

    Why should any atheist/ non-religious person donate to them?!

    1. They will thank their god for it anyway, say how their lord worked through us to help them.

    2. The last phrase shows what a vengeful group they are. Thus, let their almighty god send his angels to help repair their building of offering to him.

    3. Our sinful secular money/ time/ effort can be put to much BETTER use helping secular activities that actually tries to help us and improve our environment etc.

  • Val

    Whether or not people are driven by guilt to donate, I can guarantee you that’s what the recipients will think. You think the message from the pulpit will be, “hey atheists aren’t all bad afterall!”

    Preposterous.

    It will be, “look, even atheists defer to us and acknowledge that they were collectively wrong for this act.”

    Your money is working against you in every possible respect. Why not just light your money on fire? Done in a fire-safe environment, the potential for your money to do harm is far less.

  • http://www.malafide.com/blog/ Evil Ray

    Great idea and props to Revyloution.

  • Cory D. Edwards

    Even if I were to make a donation to any kind of charity, there are people starving worldwide, homeless people, research to cure diseases, even mistreated animals are much higher on the list than helping a church clean up graffiti, they don’t pay taxes and get donations from their sheep… so would my hard earned money go to THEM? Not in a million years! (or at least not in the entire history of the Earth, which according to the Christians is only 5 or 6 thousand years right?)

  • http://www.atheistrex.blogspot.com Rex

    If atheists want to be seen for the rational, thoughtful, caring group that we are, we have to support efforts like this.

    I have reservations about giving to this cesspool of intolerance, but it is the right thing to do.

    We need to show them the example of doing the right thing even if we may think that they are wrong. That, in a nutshell, is the biggest difference between us and them, and we need to model this behavior at every opportunity.

    I chipped in.

  • Val

    @Rex

    We don’t “have to” or “need to” do this.

    Our “community” has a finite amount of resources. Hemant could have thumped the drum for a million different causes worth throwing a few bucks at. With all the organizations in the world that could actually do good, I think choosing a bigoted organization as a recipient just for brownie points is shameful.

    I agree that we should do the right thing. This is not the right thing.

  • Justin P.

    You can not use the card that performing a donation to this cause is an act of rationalism, thoughtfulness, or care. Is it rational of us to give funding to reconstruct a building that worships a holy book that supports things Atheists are against? That does not seem rational to me. We condemn their actions in one attempt and then give them money in the next breath to help support their building to preach it.

    At best we can condemn the actions as useless and not being an example of what Atheists stand for. That being, rational and mature conversation among the two parties. Violence and vandalism is not constructive in any way for either parties.

    Sorry but if an Atheist feels they need to donate to help support this than I invite them to go reread the bible. Come back and tell me if that’s a message you still want to give money to support.

  • Stogoe

    The ones who should be paying for the repairs and decoration are the vandals. If the culprits can’t be found then the church should contact their insurance company.

    This. Why are we raising funds for something that the insurance company has already cut a check for?

    Would you contribute to remove swastikas painted on a synagogue?

    There’s no comparison between “ur religion is silly phbbbt” and “hey, remember that time when your relatives and fellow believers were hunted down and exterminated? Yeah, fun times. We should do it again sometime.”

    Your money is working against you in every possible respect. Why not just light your money on fire? Done in a fire-safe environment, the potential for your money to do harm is far less.

    Ding Ding Ding.

  • Siamang

    I chipped in. We need to show folks that that ain’t how we roll.

    And to those who say “don’t give a dime to the churches”, I say, I just have a different opinion than you on what I’m doing. I’m not building a church. I’m not starting a church. The coat of paint this will take does not create or build a church that wasn’t there before or that won’t be there tomorrow with or without my chip in.

    What it may do is help build a *bridge*. Which is more important to me than ensuring a church stays messy with grafitti.

    In all this, it’s right down to the question of “what do you want to build, a wall or a bridge?”

    Graffitti is a way to build walls. That’s simply not acceptable. But neither is ignoring an opportunity to build a bridge.

  • thesummerqueen

    I have to admit, I mostly scanned through the last 5th of the responses, so I hope I’m not repeating anyone.

    This is just my personal opinion, but I see a couple problems here:

    1) atheists are not a “group” other than we don’t believe in gods, and theists don’t understand this

    2) we’re not likely to find the culprit to make him/her face punishment, and he/she identified with the Church of FSM.

    I think to settle the manner, the money can come from whoever chooses to send it, but ultimately members of the Church of FSM (jokingly or no) should specifically be there to help with clean up and make sure the public knows that such activities are NOT what pastafarians are about. It’s a great opportunity for PR – something atheists and skeptics of all stripes lack. “We didn’t do it, and we don’t approve it. We’re not about this sort of thing, and we wish to help show you this.” This way, if you as an atheist don’t wish to be associated with it, you can say “I’m not a pastafarian, I had nothing to do with the whole situation, and you wouldn’t blame all of Christianity for something a methodist/baptist/catholic did, would you?”

  • http://novylen.net Rob Bos

    I, too, chipped in.

    It is the way I would want to be treated if I were in their shoes.

    How cool would it be if a church paid to remove graffiti from an atheist billboard?

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    Before throwing cash at bigots to assuage their martyr complex and “make nice” with a church that has an “ex-gay” ministry, please consider reading this

  • Ben

    Fuck helping them. The cost for cleanup will come from the funds they generally use to brainwash. This is a good thing.

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    I understand the principle of the idea. We are bigger people because we can look past our differences and help when a bad thing happens to our ‘nemesis’. I get it. But things in this life are not so black and white.

    Churches do damage. This church boasts proudly about the damage they inflict with guilt upon LGBT people. I will always fight for my children’s rights to marry whomever they love and this would be counterproductive.
    Yeah, it sucks that someone took $10 of spray paint and inflicted $500 worth of damage to their buildings. But honestly, I can think of so many more worthy things to donate to. And maybe that’s not the point, but when it all boils down, I can’t be the ethical person I try to be while donating to unethical institutions. This is why non-taxed institutions carry insurance.

    I would prefer us, as a mishmash Atheist community, come out with a statement condemning the behavior then donating the funds raised to something a little more ethical and beneficial to our world. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture helps me to see that this vandalism pales in comparison to the damage that specific church is inflicting upon my fellow humans.

  • Rick

    Yes, we all agree that it was a bad thing.

    Yes, if we give them $$ to help, it shows that atheists can be nice people too.

    No, you don’t give $$ to those who clearly don’t need it. I would love to see the P&L Statements of these tax free institutions. I suspect that their after tax income is quite impressive.

    I agree that we should publicly decry the act but giving them $$ is really not necessary.

  • marlene

    many more questions….Would you donate if the fund was renamed to the Bend..anti-Graffiti clean-up fund? Or should we help the church if it gets tagged by gang related graffiti…Is this fund being set up to just make atheist look good?

  • http://www.bluefrogdesignstudios.com/thebluefrogsays/ The Big Blue Frog

    Here’s a hypothetical situation for you: We donate to this church to get the vandalism repaired, and it turns out it was a couple of kids from their own congregation, maybe even the preacher’s kids. Don’t we then look pretty silly?

    It seems to me, that by jumping to the rescue we are basically admitting that “we” (in the sense of “all atheists”) are responsible. It seems too much like an admission of guilt, when there hasn’t even been enough time for the local cops to carry on a full investigation.

    I’ve seen a lot of people commenting that they feel dirty giving money to a church. There’s a reason we feel that way.

    If the graffiti said “Praise Cthulu” would we still be donating to fix this church? Is it only because of the residual guilt we’re carrying around as former theists, and the uneasiness we may feel with our own parodies of religious belief?

  • http://www.sbsoapbox.blogspot.com/ Susi

    Hemant, you may want to see if the statute below is still in effect. Cost of cleaning it up could be much more reasonable if they can rely on the ‘services of cleaning it up’ for free. And that means more money goes to FBB. Maybe if Bobby Henderson finds out who did it, they can actually get them to do their own clean up.

    http://www.ci.bend.or.us/city_hall/meeting_minutes/docs/IS_Graffiti_Removal.pdf

  • http://reapsowradio.com Reap

    I wouldn’t have a problem donating if the church was short on resources, that doesn’t look to be the case. I see a painter in town has volunteered his time and equipment.Labor and equipment is probably the largest part of the cost for repair. And I think the public statement made by Bobby Henderson and other Atheists goes far enough to show most if not all do not approve of this type behavior. I also just donated to a family(the mother is an Atheist) who are in need of some help. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the ‘help your own kind first’ but I think that sometimes Atheists are a bit slow in supporting other Atheists in their time of need. If you feel so strongly about helping the church then thats ok but I can think of several other Atheists who could use some help and I’m not talking about painting their house.

  • Rich Wilson

    I chipped in, but that ‘revenge’ line is bugging the hell out of me.

  • Ondrea

    I donated, though it was only a couple of dollars and I see that the amount already donated is probably more than enough to cover it.

    I hope that this gesture of goodwill will help defuse any animosity the church feels or might feel towards the atheist community.

    I know it’s not our responsibility, in the sense that I am not the specific person who did it, but I think that no matter who got vandalized, it causes a smear on the atheist community, and it sends a good message to clean it up. That it’s not something we support.

    And the pastor’s comment that god would take revenge is his way of disclaiming his anger, and believing that his god will work out justice. It’s not probably a comment meant to send evil on anyone.

  • Blacksheep

    Nice Old Testament type quote there, Rod. Hint: There’s this thing called the New Testament and this guy named Jesus. You might want to check ‘em out sometime.

    Correct – “He who is without sin cast the first stone,” “turn the other cheek,” “love your enemies,” etc.
    The opposite of revenge.

  • http://skepticon.org Katie Hartman

    It seems to be like the leftover money ought to be going to an LGBT organization, since this’ll be helping clean up a church that actively harms LGBT youth. How many people have killed themselves after trying to pray away the gay?

    Honestly, even if the excess cash went toward helping LGBT youth, it wouldn’t make this whole thing feel much less dirty. It just might help even the score.

    If I were gay, I’d feel betrayed.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Katie Hartman:

    I wouldn’t give a dime to this church seeing as they’ve got a pray-away-the-gay service there. That’s disgusting.

  • Noah

    Not a chance in hell. The church can use some of the money they’ve guilted out of their members to fix this. I would go so far as to say that they deserve it for having an ex-gay program. Helping them is enabling them to continue their activities.

    They won’t be grateful. They’ll see this as atheists grovling to them. Christianity of this flavor almost always has a superiority complex going on. Don’t give money to help the religious, give money to help those in acutal need. Let them have their vandilized church, they’ve earned it.

  • Val

    If I were gay, I’d feel betrayed.

    That is exactly how I feel. The idea of giving money to the types of people who tormented my childhood makes me physically ill.

    I know my experiences may be extreme, but I will NEVER give money to a church under any circumstances. I don’t care how much I or others might benefit personally. I don’t care how flattering the news headlines are or how assuaged our collective guilt is. They do too much harm and far too freely to be given even more access to your wallet than they already have. You can try to kumbaya your into some good PR but any community that gives money to these monsters is a community that I want no part of.

    Build a bridge if you like. I’ll build a moat.

  • Miles McCullough

    Even if I had extra cash, I’d have to decline this one. After finding out that 1) the pastor threatened hell, 2) the church is state-of-the-art and flush with $$, and 3) the church has an ex-gay program I have zero desire to help them.

    I grew up gay in Arkansas with threats of hell drilled into me my entire childhood. That many of the slogans were Harry Potter quotes and bible verses about violence to children(is that true?) points to someone young. If that kid had to endure being threatened with hell I can understand his/her anger. Doesn’t excuse the deed, but no way will I enable such hatred.

    Can we donate to an LGBT youth cause in the church’s name instead? That would send a message.

    This (except I grew up straight in Arkansas). I condemn the vandalism to the exact same measure I condemn vandalism against neo-nazi buildings. That is all we owe them. Not an inch more, not a penny less. The only reason I tolerate the existence of churches is a near sacred respect for freedom of belief, expression, and association. A respect that is not returned I must say.

    I know you listen to conservative Christian radio, Hemant, so I know you know what we’re up against. The most blatant, unarguable disconfirmation of their understanding of Christianity is dismissed as deceit or error using the most preposterous reasoning without a shred of shame. Even if you use religious arguments, it’s just silly: WWJD, tax the rich to feed the poor or bomb the poor to line the pockets of the rich? Well clearly Jesus was a fan of getting your own house in order, as he did say “Pull the plank out of your own eye…,” and he never told government how to act, as he did say “Render unto Caesar…,” and ta-da! It’s “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps Jesus / Support our troops Jesus!”

    I would much rather donate to a local school or youth group or kids sports league or anything but a church. We can show the fundies that we are good people without giving them money when they spit in our faces.

  • Mark G.

    You’ve already raised over $2,100. How extensive is this painting project?

  • Miles McCullough

    Just to be clear, I am disappointed and angry that you would consider giving money to a church for any reason, Hemant. I am with Katie and Val – I feel betrayed.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Correct – “He who is without sin cast the first stone,” “turn the other cheek,” “love your enemies,” etc.
    The opposite of revenge.

    According to non-Universalist Christian theology, Jesus doesn’t follow his own advice on judgement day. Its either thumbs up or thumbs down based on your particular thought crimes.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Mark G:

    $2100 that’s going to a hateful, bigoted, homophobic church. $2100 that will never change their mind. $2100 that will provide them with money to continue to say atheists are going to Hell and gay people are evil.

    Great job, Hemant! $2100 that could’ve gone to people who are the victims of this Christian insidiousness. I feel so betrayed.

  • Don Lubin

    Yes helping would be good PR for atheists, and a nice gesture. But can’t one painter and one gallon of paint do the walls in a day? Something like $250? and you have $2100 so far?

  • Miles McCullough

    My apologies to Kev, Noah, Chris, Ben, and everyone else who feels betrayed by Hemant for not including you in my last post.

    Hemant, I really want to know: would you please send this money to a local LGBT youth group in the church’s name instead?

  • Drew M.

    Great job, Hemant! $2100 that could’ve gone to people who are the victims of this Christian insidiousness. I feel so betrayed.

    I totally read that in Scarlett O’Hara’s voice. “As god as mah witness, I will nevah be hungry agaihn!”

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Miles:

    Nah, it’s not a big deal don’t worry too much about it.

    But yes, something like that would be so much better. Heck, send it to a local charity of some kind. Don’t give the money to the church. They’re spiteful, hateful, homophobic people and this gesture isn’t going to do anything.

    @Drew M:

    “Great job Hemahnt. Twenty-one hundred dollahs that coulda gone to people who are the vic-tims of this Christian insidiousness. Ah feel so betrayed!”

  • Drew M.

    Well, I am bisexual and I do not feel betrayed. I see this not as helping the church so much as it is putting our money where our mouths are.

    It is easy to publicly condemn the perpetrator for his vandalism. As so many of these comments show, it is much more difficult to back those words with actions. We are saying that we disapprove of this so much that we are willing to pay for the cost of repairs.

    Your mileage, of course, may vary, but I think if gives at least one Christian pause to think, then it is money well spent.

    ETA:

    @Kev,

    Well played! That was awesome!

  • runawayuniverse

    Do I disagree with the vandals that caused this damage? Absolutely. But I disagree more with giving these people any amount of money.

    I live near enough to Bend that I could volunteer my time to help, only I’m not even going to do that. Not after reading about what this church stands for.

    You really lost me on this one.

  • GregFromCos

    Just gave a bit to this. Have to say I hate doing it, but I hate what was done more.

    I do find it sad that so many have decided to find solace in conspiracy theories (the Christians did it to gain sympathy), instead of just accepting that sometimes people (especially young people) do stupid things thinking they are helping a cause.

    I hope they catch whoever did this, although the chances are slim.

  • Eric

    I don’t agree with the vandalism, but what’s done is done. I won’t donate to clean it up because, like others have said, I cannot fathom sending my money to a church, no matter what they use it for, and I had nothing to do with the vandalism.

    As for the idea that I, as an atheist, need to build or maintain some benificiary type of image to the local religions, well, I don’t. I owe them nothing. I have nothing to prove to them and frankly I think that the vandals message was an improvement to the buildings and what they stand for.

    Would you give your money to a known rapist because the car he uses to drive and find his victims had the words “rapist” scrawled on the side of it? I would hope not and this is the exact same thing. I would not be the one to write the words on the car, but I sure wouldn’t pay for his paint job either.

    I submit that those who feel the need to prove something by donating to this cause reflect on their true motives. Do you harbor guilt for being an atheist? I don’t.

  • Richard Wade

    Noah similarly to several others here said,

    They won’t be grateful. They’ll see this as atheists grovling to them.

    Let’s put that to the test. Let’s find out. We value the scientific method of investigation, don’t we? Rather than just making sweeping assumptions? It will be an interesting experiment, well worth the fraction of money we’ve raised.

    Let’s make sure that not only the two church administrations understand what we’re doing, but the community becomes aware of it. Their reactions and comments will be very interesting, and hopefully informative.

  • Neoteny

    Now I’m torn. As a middle class, white, straight dude, it’s pretty easy for me to be completely thoughtless when it comes to this sort of thing. I do, obviously, think that the destruction of property is wrong, and have no qualms with taking responsibility to for the actions of a misguided few. But, the more I’ve considered this issue, the more I feel like there is a sense of misplaced priorities. Do I think bridging a gap between theists and atheists is important? Sure. Do I think supporting a more oppressed minority is more important? No doubt. I won’t lose much sleep over a church with unwanted fish skeletons on it. Maybe if it were a more tolerant church… anyhow, if there’s one thing my puny atheist minority status has taught me, it’s to take the complaints of more persecuted minorities very seriously.

    I could only spare 10 bucks for this, so I can’t speak for much, but I’d now prefer the contributions go to support an LGBT group of some sort. I don’t know if there are any restrictions on what the money can go to (are there laws or something about raising money for one thing and doing something else with it?), but if it’s possible to change the goal, I would support that change.

  • http://www.spellwight.com Debbie

    Here’s the thing.

    We can’t complain when Churches don’t regulate/condemn their own and not step up when an obvious Atheist does something wrong.

    I don’t see it as donating to a church, I see it as taking some responsibility for the criminal actions of one of our own in the only way open to us. This can only work in our favor.

  • Christian Poppycock

    God moves in mysterious ways. Who are we to question why He guided the hands of His children to decorate these places of worship?

  • http://www.sarahtrachtenberg.com Sarah Trachtenberg

    @Reyvolution, you have a really big heart. I wouldn’t be big enough to make that gesture, even if I were a professional painter/contractor. You are a credit to us. I didn’t read the whole comments section (!), but did the church take you up on your generous offer?

  • Randy

    Here is something to check into also, the City I work for has a policy of owner removes the graffiti and saves the reciepts. When (or if) the individuals are caught they repay the owner. So, worst case , the church gets money from us, their insurance AND repaid by whoever did it. Not bad…

  • Angel

    When road overpasses get tagged with obnoxious graffiti, will we be passing a pot around for its removal as well?

    Because there is a lot less money flying around municipal budgets than in those churches.

    I find it irritating that I’m asked to contribute money to a church, that has a budget for building maintenance in place, and outright mindblowing that so many people are overlooking their destructive institution in the name of We Must Prove Something.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I already have the moral high ground. I sure as fuck am not obligated to show what an awesome human being I am by donating, in any form, to an institution that is completely contrary to every single moral and ethical standard I hold myself to.

  • Chris aka "Happy Cat"

    I am posting my third comment on this thread because the more I think about this gesture to a church with an “ex-gay” ministry, the more I feel betrayed and the more upset I become. I was scorned in my childhood for being gay and an unbeliever. It wounded me. Please bear with me or just skip past. I’ve never tld the details to people I didn’t know well, but I feel I need to do so. It’s not a short comment….

    When I grew up in AR, I was harassed daily from first grade on for a variety of reasons. One of these was that I had a lisp and was not very masculine. From an early age I was fighting depression. Add intense Fundy Christian fire-and-brimstone variety guilt and fear of damnation for some local flavor (I knew I was gay at age 11 and renounced church at age 12.) Everywhere was the message that I was defective, of the devil, damned, less than others.

    During high school during the mid ’80′s I was physically attacked twice, and developed a stalker who would wait outside my classes to try to ambush me. I remember the word “kill” and “fag” being used at one point. I was so messed up by this I would fall asleep (defense mechanism) in class and began throwing up before school when I bothered to attend at all.

    I went to the principle, the vice-principle, and the guidance counselor. Each time it was dismissed and I was told he does this every year. Every year??? Only the counselor showed concern but she was powerless. About this time, “omg, Chris is gay!” was actually declared out loud in classes I did not attend. I lost my best and only close friend. (Hi, Rodney!)I loved this guy, but his father, a pastor, told him we couldn’t associate because I was not Christian. That trumped gay!

    Eventually I was forced to drop out of school. This was made worse because for the first time in my education I was making straight A’s and B’s. It effected my life and my goals for the future.

    I couldn’t discuss it with my ignorant family who were not church-goers but still used god to justify their bigotry. I was my grandmother’s favorite, but when I declared my atheism at 15, she called me an “infidel” and we didn’t talk for days. I compromised and told her I believed in something , but I didn’t want to call it “god”. She came around, but NO WAY could I tell her I was queer.

    It was 1984, long before the “It Gets Better” campaign. I even had family and in-laws that loved using hate speech regarding gays while they had no problem using me for free childcare once I left school. (Yes, they assumed I was gay. I later learned my closet door was transparent.) Any attempt at rational discourse about smeone being gay ended with “it’s a sin”. Full stop.

    It took me almost 20 years to completely shed all the guilt and the lack of self-esteem that resulted from growing up as the evil, perverted “other” whose very existence was an abomination. I was indoctrinated to expect no future happiness in this world and damnation in the next.

    Please, Hemant, think again about supporting these hate mongers that help destroy lives. They don’t need the cash, but plenty do.

    The gesture will do nothing to advance our cause. I’ve dealt with this type for around four decades and the outcome would be neutral at best. I don’t have much fight or time left, but I’ll be damned (so to speak) if can let them win.

  • Tony

    If it were a UU church or other similarly innocuous group I’d be in. Not for bigots. Nothing, ever, for bigots.

  • TC

    Chris, I am so sorry you had the experience that you did. The things that happened to you are deplorable. I wish I had known you so you’d have had at least one person growing up who didn’t judge you for who you are. I completely see your point of view and understand your anger frustration. I in NO way condone the actions of this church or any other entity who refuses to accept others as they are. That being said, since it’s pretty evident that we have little influence over the thinking and values of these churches, we need to focus on what we do have control over…our own behavior. The more WE act in a loving and ethical way, the more influence we will gain in the community and only then we’ll be able exert control over these churches and how they are viewed by society. Their bigotry has got to stop! We have to be the one’s to stand up and show the world the importance of taking responsibility for bad behavior, and stop focusing on the reasons why we feel our judgment of others is justified. I can’t speak for Hemant, but this is why I decided to donate. My son is gay. He is out to his family but not his friends. I understand his hesitancy and he knows he has his family’s full support. I hope for your emotional well-being you can find a way to forgive those who acted so poorly towards you. While your anger is righteous, it only brings you more pain and allows those assholes to continue to hold you back. There are many psychologists out there who will help you find your way out of this specific pain. I’d give you a hug if I could. I think you’re overdue for a few.

  • http://Whowilldefendgod? John D

    Wow Happy Cat. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope you can put this tragic beginning behind you. I am now even more convinced that giving money to this church is not only a bad idea… it is immoral.

  • Noah

    Responding to Richard Wade

    Let’s put that to the test. Let’s find out. We value the scientific method of investigation, don’t we? Rather than just making sweeping assumptions? It will be an interesting experiment, well worth the fraction of money we’ve raised.

    We don’t need to experiment with these people. They run an ex-gay ministry and made a threat from their deity in the press release. That’s enough for me to know all I need to know about them. This is a group that is openly hostile towards things that they view as being “of sin”. We’re atheists. To them, we are of sin. The only reason they think we’d come to them is “to be saved” from their god’s wrath, the wrath they threatened in the press release.

    Hemant: I know you like seeing good in people and trying to be diplomatic, but this is not a situation for that. These people are close minded bigots who try to make gay people become straight. They aren’t worth the time or money of nonbelievers. They get enough of that from their own brainwashed congregation.

  • http://www.confessionsofapagansoccermom.com Mrs. B.

    Just came across this post via Facebook. I’ll be sending in something to help the church – and I’m a practicing witch. Believe me when I say a lot of Christians think I’m the devil incarnate, but I do believe in helping where I can.

  • jarppu

    Over two thousand dollars have been donated to this already. How much can it cost to clean up a couple of graffitis anyway?

    Let’s not go overboard with the donations – you know what they are going to do with the extra money, right?

  • Gordon

    At the very least can you pay a secular company to do the clean up and donate the rest to a real charity?

    I’m sorry, but churches [a]already have money, [b]don’t pay tax, and [c]spend money on the wrong things.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/108749041516784525981 Larro

    Does this church have insurance to protect against vandalism?

  • Claudia

    Over two thousand dollars have been donated to this already. How much can it cost to clean up a couple of graffitis anyway?

    Let’s not go overboard with the donations – you know what they are going to do with the extra money, right?

    It bears repeating: No money will be given to the church itself. The money will be employed to pay a contractor to paint over the graffitis. Any excess money will go to the Foundation Beyond Belief.

  • ewan

    Let’s make sure that not only the two church administrations understand what we’re doing, but the community becomes aware of it.

    OK, great. How exactly are you going to make that happen. People have asked Hemant this already, and he’s completely ignored their very reasonable question.

    If this is going to be a test of getting good community PR for atheism in general, someone’s going to need to make some noise about it, talk to the media, put out press releases.

    Is that going to be you?

  • TC

    Everybody keeps saying that we don’t owe them anything. Damn skippy, we don’t. But you know who we owe it to? Ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day knowing that we did the right thing even when it was uncomfortable. And that we made rational decisions and didn’t let our emotions and fear get in the way. What is our goal? To stay mired in the muck of emotional arguments or to be the change that we’re looking for in the world? Did it suck to give money to this cause? Yeah, it did. But where is the logic in getting pissed at the church for being valdalized?Or for something completely unrelated to being valdalized? I’m directing my frustration at the schmucks with the spray cans. They put our whole community in a bad position. I gotta stop looking at this thread…it’s frustrating me as much as the xtian rhetoric. Seriously, guys…this isn’t about the church, it’s about our own integrity. You’re getting distracted by your emotions. If this is how we’re going to approach our alleged “free thinking” we’re no better off than the church. Thank you to everybody who donated. You should be proud of your ability to set your personal biases aside. We all have biases, but it’s only when we learn how to keep them in check that this situation is ever going to improve.

  • Anonymous

    I would suggest Hemant close the fundraiser to donations at this point, and Hemant and others involved in this project contact the media outlets who originally reported this story (Richard Wade would be another wonderful SpokesAtheist). Crucially, a dialogue should go into the story that many atheists (most, I would argue) were terribly alarmed at supporting this project because of the so-called “ex-gay” therapy, and other church teachings, and what does the pastor of the church(es) have to say about that?

    And to reiterate, the vandals also tagged the building with passages about god commanding child slaugher: what I saw on camera were the one from Leviticus about killing children who curse their parents, and one from Exodus that says children should be slaughtered for the sins of their parents/ancestors. It’s a salient point that shouldn’t be ignored.

  • http://www.atheistsofflorida.org EllenBeth Wachs

    Just a thought- would you be donating to this if it were the Westboro Baptist Church that got defaced? If not- please explain the difference. A matter of degree? I say that’s inconsequential. It all stems from hatred against a group of people based upon biblical principles

  • Drew M.

    Over two thousand dollars have been donated to this already. How much can it cost to clean up a couple of graffitis anyway?

    Let’s not go overboard with the donations – you know what they are going to do with the extra money, right?

    For fuck’s sake.

    You are the umpteenth person to not have read Hemant’s actual post.

    He said exactly what will be done with the surplus. Go back and read.

    @TC

    I gotta stop looking at this thread…it’s frustrating me as much as the xtian rhetoric.

    Ditto.

  • T-Rex

    If I lived in the area I would offer my labor to help clean it up but no religious organization will ever see another penny from me. Ever. I didn’t see one religious group offer to help replace the FFRF billboards after they were vandalized. I don’t think atheists donating money to help clean this up is going to change their opinion of us one bit. The vandalism was wrong, but so is their tax exempt status. I donate my hard earned money to them every fucking day of my life by paying their taxes. Tough luck.

  • Val

    Yeah, it did. But where is the logic in getting pissed at the church for being valdalized?Or for something completely unrelated to being valdalized?

    What line do they have to cross before it is unacceptable to give them money? They drive children to kill themselves. They teach children to hate themselves. CHILDREN. Do they need to literally push these kids off a cliff before you’ll put your purse away? We are losing innocent children, senselessly. Is this not something to be pissed about?

  • Anarxus

    Chipped in.

    As someone said above, decency has to start somewhere; if we care to think ourselves categorically different from the sub-populations of anti-progressive, “problem child” fundamentalists who claim to be theists, we shouldn’t be hesitant to reach out to reasonable people when they are the victims of undeserved crimes.

    The impetus to chip in, for me, was largely due to the likelihood of the culprit(s) being youthful, anti-establishment/anti-religious pranksters.

  • Dan

    Where are people getting this “over $2,000 raised already” number? As of my writing the widget says $310.78 has been raised.

    Also, people, please learn to read before you criticize. The original post CLEARLY said that any money raised over the base cost to fix the graffiti would be donated to the Foundation Beyond Belief. I am amazed by the lack of reading comprehension of all the people implying that he will just give a check for over $2,000 (wherever that number came from) to a homophobic church and tell then to do with it as they will. Please actually read the post before you fly off the handle with wild accusations.

  • http://skepticon.org Katie Hartman

    Dan, you may need to clear your cache. The current amount is upwards of $2400.

  • TC

    @Val
    I think you misunderstood my point. I never said I wasn’t angry with the church’s anti-gay ministry. I find it quite infuriating. I do not, however, allow my anger to cloud my ability to think it through clearly. The point I failed to make is that these two issues are not related to one another. How many people changed their mind about donating when they found out about this church’s philosophy? The question one must ask him or herself upon reading Hemant’s post is: Should I donate money to help restore this church that was vandalized? The relevant facts are as follows: 1) The church was valdalized 2) The church was apparently valdalized by one of our own. In this case, this makes the church a victim. The church’s ministry is irrelevant and predjudicial. If this was a court of law, a judge would never allow that information to be entered into evidence. If a prositute is raped at knife point, is she any less worthy of receiving restorative justice than the girl next door? Would her lifestyle make her any less of a victim? The beauty of thinking rationally is that it allows one to focus on facts rather than emotions. Yes, this church makes me sick and I will continue to actively find ways to counteract the poison they spew into our communities and families. But doesn’t acting as if they deserved to be victimized, or accepting their status of victim only if I agree with their thinking make me a bigot too? And, I don’t remember anybody saying the money was going to go to the church itself. I understood it as the fund would go to cover the costs incurred by the actual clean up work that needed to be done. Unless building maintenance is somehow anti-gay, again I don’t see the connection.

  • Daniel

    Any amount of money that goes over the amount they need to clean *will* be used for proselytizing. I’m not ok with that. They’re already raised thousands of dollars.

  • Drew M.

    @Dan,

    Where are people getting this “over $2,000 raised already” number? As of my writing the widget says $310.78 has been raised.

    This happens with the widget sometimes – it gets stuck. You’ll need to clear your browser cache to see the current amount, which as of this moment, is $2,600 and change.

  • AteoAbsurdo

    People, read.

    Extra money goes to the Foundation Beyond Belief. Not to the church.

  • ewan

    The church was apparently valdalized by one of our own.

    Can you back that up with anything? As has already been noted, the church was also vandalised with biblical quotes, so it’s just as likely to be one of theirs as one of ours.

    If you’re pissed off at a church (maybe you’re gay, been forced to attend, and you’re fed up with their casual abuse) what are you going to do to get back at them? Maybe a bit of vandalism? Take the piss? Both?

    Just because someone wanted to upset the church folks doesn’t mean they’re an atheist, even if they used atheist imagery to do it.

  • Revyloution

    Update from my end:

    I got a reply from a nice lady who thanked me for the offer, and that she passed my name on to the guy who takes care of the buildings. No reply from him yet.

  • http://skepticon.org Katie Hartman

    The relevant facts are as follows: 1) The church was valdalized 2) The church was apparently valdalized by one of our own. In this case, this makes the church a victim. The church’s ministry is irrelevant and predjudicial.

    I didn’t see anyone making this point when the WBC’s vehicle’s tires were slashed.

    If this was a court of law, a judge would never allow that information to be entered into evidence. If a prositute is raped at knife point, is she any less worthy of receiving restorative justice than the girl next door?

    First off, there is no such thing as “restorative justice” for a rape victim. I understand that you’re trying to get at a principle, here, but the comparison fails horribly. Why not use theft, here? Why rape? Totally uncalled for.

    Second, my issue with one of the churches involved is that it is actively harming people, and I question whether we should ever help, in any capacity, an organization that we know is causing unnecessary suffering. Prostitution is not comparable. Money is a finite resource, and there are plenty of individuals and organizations who have been wronged, deserve aid, and are making the world a better place rather than a worse one.

  • Tony

    @TC

    If you’re going to donate money to a cause, you may as well give to one that actually deserves your money.

    Stop characterizing people who disagree with you as irrational, it makes you look like an ass.

  • http://skepticon.org Katie Hartman

    In an ideal world, we’d watch the vandals take their seats in court and face the consequences, and Westside would be footing the bill for therapy sessions for the gay congregants it has no doubt traumatized with its message – and I’m quoting from the website, here – that ‘you don’t have to be gay!’

    One of these is way more likely to occur than the other.

  • Troglodyke

    When road overpasses get tagged with obnoxious graffiti, will we be passing a pot around for its removal as well?

    Because there is a lot less money flying around municipal budgets than in those churches.

    I find it irritating that I’m asked to contribute money to a church, that has a budget for building maintenance in place, and outright mindblowing that so many people are overlooking their destructive institution in the name of We Must Prove Something.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I already have the moral high ground. I sure as fuck am not obligated to show what an awesome human being I am by donating, in any form, to an institution that is completely contrary to every single moral and ethical standard I hold myself to.

    It will be judged by some commenters here as too harsh, but, my thoughts exactly.

  • Cheryl

    Hemant and TC have real class and I admire them.
    Think of all the times this or that religious group has refused to denounce a co-religionist’s misdeeds because “he is not representative of us.” Hemant is using the incident to sew good-will instead of just saying it’s not our problem. I like how his mind works.

    That said, the graffiti was not hateful, just annoying. And I’d be totally not surprised if it was an inside job. In fact, I’d be surprised if it was not an inside job. But for now, we should err on the side of tentatively presuming this was for real.

    As to publicizing the fundraising, I say this is an asinine idea. The point is not to play peacock. Again, this is an opportunity to model ethical behavior. Publicity-seeking would defeat the entire purpose and is likely an idea planted by theists.

  • Jazzy

    I have to say that I was really conflicted about the right course of action here. Then I read Leah’s post.

    I really like this idea. It seems like a perfect solution for those who want to do what they feel is the right thing without being perceived as weak, or admitting some kind of guilt.

    I would suggest taking it a step further. For those who donate to the clean-up, why not also enclose a message to the church that an equal amount has been donated to (secular cause of your choice)?

    What a great way to show compassion for an opposing view, and still make it clear that we will not sacrifice our own?

    (Now I just have to check my budget for the rest of the week.)

    BTW, I also really like the idea of paying Revyloution for the repair work. Christians don’t change their minds about atheists as the result of group actions, they do it when they come into contact with *one* kind person who defies the stereotypes they have been taught for a lifetime.

  • Mary

    I wish I had seen this. I personally would NOT give cash. I would however suggest getting a team of Atheists together (wearing A shirts or better yet shirts that specifically say ‘I am an Atheist’) to actually DO the work.

    Cash is anonymous – having an actual face behind the good deed sends a far stronger message.

  • Mary

    Just read more posts… considering the fact that the church is homophobic, the shirts should be rainbow & declare that I am an Atheist… lol

  • Angel

    We owe it to ourselves to be able to look in the mirror at the end of the day knowing that we did the right thing even when it was uncomfortable.

    As though not donating is shameful? I think not. I’m quite content to look myself in the eye in the mirror over this. I didn’t hold the paint can. I didn’t encourage those responsible to commit the defacement. I can’t even say that I have anything in common with the person who did. I think that the culprit should be brought to justice via the set of laws that are in place. I don’t condone it.

    And that is the extent of what I consider appropriate behaviour. Since a number of people here are indignant about this donation being used to Set An Example, I’d like to point out that just me stating that I am against the act of vandalism and would like the culprit to face justice is more than most of those giant religious businesses we call churches have done in similar situations. We’re not talking about people here. We’re talking about a business.

    So remind me again why it is my personal responsibility to provide monetary compensation for something that businesses carry insurance for, they are more than able to pay for with the sale of even one widescreen tv to one of their sheep, will likely rake in extra tithes to cover the cost of, and will likely get reimbursed anyway for?

    Did it suck to give money to this cause? Yeah, it did.

    I refuse to overlook the conclusions of my years of thoughtful observations that have led me to my atheism, even if that means that I may look like an asshole to a group of people who already think I’m an asshole, and “classless” to my fellow atheists. This is me, sticking to my principles.

  • 7fta
  • http://twitter.com/newyorkcreator Ryan

    Never.

    Poisoners of minds deserve no empathy.

  • modtim

    I think they could take some money out of their missionary fund to pay for the paint…and, of course , the good Christians who go to the church will generously offer their labor…

  • Aaron Friel

    It would be great if there were any local LGBT organizations listed as well, if they were looking for donations for their activities. I think the greatest good that can be done, now that so much has been raised, would be to support organizations these churches harm through their programs.

    I’d rather see the overflow money go to local LGBT rights groups or for pride activities in their town, as well.

  • http://defendingreason.wordpress.com/ Ben

    The church’s ministry is irrelevant and predjudicial. If this was a court of law, a judge would never allow that information to be entered into evidence.

    We’re not robots, mate. It might be irrelevant in a court of law, but this ain’t no court of law. We’re emotional beings who don’t have to weigh evidence on some emotionally-void scale, in fact if we have one thing that makes us who we are, it’s emotions.

    People are allowed, whether you like it or not, to decide that the abhorrent actions of the church (not their thoughts, but what they’ve actually done) far outweigh any brownie-points that might be gained.

    Yes, this church makes me sick and I will continue to actively find ways to counteract the poison they spew into our communities and families. But doesn’t acting as if they deserved to be victimized, or accepting their status of victim only if I agree with their thinking make me a bigot too?

    The church is an organisation, not a person. As an organisation, and a religious one at that, they have many benefits that the individuals they harm do not. They have tax-free status, so you’re effectively paying for the repairs anyway without having to donate. They also have insurance, which would cover any costs if they were large enough to claim for. They have staff (plural, by the sound of it) who’s jobs it is deal with this sort of thing.

    Does that make them not a victim? No, they are, and everybody who is against the donations have said they don’t support the vandalism. But they’re ability to cope with a petty crime like graffiti is well within their ability and they don’t need any help, let alone donations, to deal with it.

    What about the “graduates” from their ex-gay programs? Thousands of gay youth all around America (and other countries as well) KILL themselves for being gay in a Christian country, many of them after attending programs just like those run by this church. Where’s the donation widget for them? Where’s the bleeding hearts, and more importantly your money, for youth who’ve been traumatised by these programs?

    The only reason I can see people choosing to donate to a church, who certainly doesn’t want for money for Christ’s sake, instead of a charity that helps to counteract their hate, who do need the money, is because they want to earn some sort of favour, to ingratiate themselves, to grovel.

    Well, fuck that.

  • Baconsbud

    I have to go along with those saying no to giving money to the churches. I very much doubt that this will change the minds of the church members about atheist and for some of the members it will actually make them sure it was atheist that did it. I see how much money is wasted by churches on buildings they don’t need and I say let them deal with it like I would if it happened to me.

  • Angel

    @Ben

    Everything you said. Signed, Me.

  • Pastor John Bluebaugh

    @ all
    Let me start by saying the efforts of Hemant to raise funds for the clean up of our church, as well as, Westside speaks volumes about his character and integrity. We could all learn from his leadership in this. Although he and I do not agree on religion I think we agree that we should all treat each each other as we would like to be treated. This is what Jesus taught His followers we just don’t always get it right!

    To all of you who donated let me say thank you for your generosity! Again, we could all learn from this as well.

    I have suggested to Hemant that the money that would have come to us be donated to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army for disaster relief efforts. Many people in our nation have had their lives torn apart by the recent tornadoes, floods and fires and they need our help. Please don’t take this as being ungrateful. We just aren’t in need of the funds for the clean-up as it was more a disruption than an expense.

    Again, thank you to all for your generosity. Lets all work at treating each other better.

  • Karen

    Wow, amazing to see how bitterly divided we are on this issue.

    Count me in with the bridge-builders and the humanists.

    No, I don’t support the church or what they do. I would not contribute to their ministry.

    But I remember how atheists were villified in the evangelical churches of my youth, and I know the impact that even offering this money for repair of their premises will have – whether they accept it graciously or decline it (which I suspect they may well do).

    Taking the high ground and doing something kind and unexpected can really shake up peoples’ preconceived hatred. And atheists can use all the positive publicity we can get, especially on moral issues like helping others when we’re under no obligation to do so.

  • TJM

    I think the church gets enough money. Maybe it’s just me but I wish they saw this in the same way I see religious symbols in secular forums.

    You should read this http://www.dekkerdreyer.com/blog/an-atheists-perspective-on-the-tea-party/ and this http://www.dekkerdreyer.com/blog/ron-paul-and-columbine/ if you ever want to explain how it feels to be an atheist to a christian person. Hemant can go around playing MLK but people like me want a Malcolm X.

  • Bart

    ALL of us have been paying this churches bills since it existed. We pay the bills for all tax exempt churches in this country. We already have been giving them hundreds of billions of dollars a year. And for that, they have done nothing but hurt us. And you guys want to give them more?

    My moral high ground is that I served twenty years in the military to protect their right to discriminate against Atheists and take our tax payer dollars. And it’s not even about being in the military, it’s about anyone fighting to protect the constitutional rights we have. Many Atheists do that, military or not.

    My moral high ground is also that if I see someone vandalizing ANYTHING (not just some church) I call the police. It’s called upholding the law.

    ANY money we give to them for this clean up (if they accept it) will be money they won’t have to take from their primary mission which is only to pay for their own existence. I doubt they will even take Atheist money because that would be giving legitimacy to Atheists.

    Who knows, they may have actually done this to themselves just to try and make us look like the evil people their religion says we are.

  • AndrewF

    Wow. So much conditional generosity.. so much for altruism.. The new golden rule: Do unto to others as they have done unto you, apparently.

  • Dan

    I actually support these kinds of things. the churches don’t pay taxes? go ahead and tag them until they go broke xD serves them right for deluding the masses. good riddance. kind of a smart tactic. although it does enforce their ability to get into the peoples heads. they get offended for no good reason and the pastor just goes on about how evil the deed was or how it’s a good example of how people turn away form god and do evil stuff “blaaah blah blaaah.”

    oh well. the harder they get hit, the more money they fork over to the companies to fix it til they close down. now that’s a real contribution! unlike giving bibles to hungry kids in africa instead of feeding them.


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