Update on the FSM Church Vandalism

Yesterday, news broke that two churches in Bend, Oregon — Westside Church and Christian Life Center — had “Praise the FSM” (Flying Spaghetti Monster) graffiti painted on them.

Many of you came together to pitch in over $2,500 to help with the cleanup. (And many of you have commented about what an awful idea this was.)

(***Please don’t donate more at this point. See below.***)

Despite the backlash, I still think it was a worthwhile thing to do.

I spoke with Pastor John Bluebaugh at Christian Life Center earlier today to talk about the vandalism issue. He said he really appreciated the gesture from us, even though we disagreed about theology. He told me that the church had a maintenance staff and they were able to clean up the mess, so they didn’t need the funds. They just wanted to make sure something like this didn’t escalate to worse vandalism (or violence) and I completely agree.

I tried reaching Rod Kirk, the director of facilities for Westside Church, but several calls, a voicemail or two, and one email later, I still haven’t heard back from him. I’ll try getting someone else on the line tomorrow.

Alicia Inns at KTVZ had a nice piece in tonight’s newscast about what we did — I can’t embed the clip but you can see it here.

Reactions in the non-theist community have ranged from applause to gasps of dismay.

But local churches say that believers or non-believers, the support from the community has been overwhelming.

“You see people who maybe have very different belief systems, and yet come together and realize we are all human.” said Mike Alexander with the Westside Church. “And even in this local community of Bend, in the last several hours raise up and do the same thing.”

Christian Life Center already has completed most of the clean-up, and the writing on the wall is nearly gone.

Pastor John Bluebaugh said though they wont have much need for the money, we need to learn a lesson.

“It’s a good lesson for us to understand that not everyone that adheres to a faith or a belief system is extreme like that and would do something like this,” Bluebaugh said Wednesday.

Needless to say, I’m going to close the Chipin widget early since we don’t need to raise more money for this cause at this point. If Westside Church doesn’t need the funding, either, the amount will be given to Foundation Beyond Belief (which encourages atheists to give to secular charities).

"Aye...I've read that article before, but this ballix analogy can not be over emphasized enough. ..."

Here’s Why the Fertility Clinic “Dilemma” ..."
"I skimmed the court documents so I may have missed it but I did not ..."

A Gay Couple Ordered Wedding Programs; ..."
"That is so sad. How much money, real estate and investments do you think the ..."

Trump’s Spiritual Advisor: Give My Church ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Drew M.

    Thanks for the update and links.

    And I think it was worthwhile as well. Thanks for walking the walk.

  • http://preliatorcausa.blogspot.com/ Joé McKen

    I don’t understand how anyone, atheist or otherwise, can claim to be a a compassionate and upstanding person/citizen when they mock victims of crime, even if it’s a relatively tame offense. If you disagree with their beliefs and actions, then argue and counteract them with all the passion you can muster. But cheering when they fall victim to faceless attacks is just childish.

    Thanks for the thought and effort, Hemant. Good example to follow.

  • Dark Jaguar

    It’s an important thing to point out. No matter what sort of harm you think religion causes, even in this case where I think it’s one of the greater harms out there, it doesn’t justify violation of, in this case, property. “Tagging” is a pretty minor crime in the grand scheme of things compared to promoting gay bigotry, but it’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, and I’m glad most people understand that.

    In particular, I like that this pastor has actually helped to spread our simple message, the most important connection is “we’re all human”, not “we’re all the same religion” (this will be need to be revised slightly when the Regalian first contact is made in 2929), and further, that atheists aren’t all lawless brigands and scallywags.

  • Ibis

    which encourages atheists to give to secular charities

    except when they’re not secular….

    You really should be up front with people about FBB’s policy of giving to religious charities, Hemant.

    (Hemant says: The money would be given to FBB itself, not one of the charities. That said, none of FBB’s charities are doing any religious work. One charity each quarter — the one you’re referring to — may be run by a religious or interfaith group, but they are required to perform only secular actions in order to be considered as a charity option.)

  • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss

    I like the way this is turning out – atheists are getting positive media attention for once (even if it is just local news in Oregon).

    You’ve helped to shift the tone from “Those nasty atheists are vandalizing churches!” to “Oh, well maybe those nonbelievers aren’t so bad after all.”

  • Some Lady

    Forgive my language, but don’t be a dick. We really need to set a good example in order to futher our cause. Stuff like this is a horrible representation of atheists. Please don’t do that.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Pastor Bluebaugh, I’d like to introduce you to a website.


  • Bryan Elliott

    I don’t know who was saying it was a bad idea, but I’ll just say: some people talk shit, other people vote with their dollar. I prefer to be in the latter group.

  • Ibis

    The money would be given to FBB itself, not one of the charities.

    FBB, because it supports religious and interfaith groups, could itself be considered a religious charity in that it promotes religion. That’s how I see it and I know I’m not alone.

    That said, none of FBB’s charities are doing any religious work. One charity each quarter — the one you’re referring to — may be run by a religious or interfaith group, but they are required to perform only secular actions in order to be considered as a charity option.

    I know you disagree, but I and other commenters have pointed out that a religious group is unable to carry out purely secular actions* — their gods are always there taking credit for any good done by actual people. Churches find in the needy easy prey. Even if it doesn’t happen at first contact or even if it is not overt, you can be sure pressure to join/show gratitude etc. will be applied.

    I am aware that many in the community agree with you on this issue. I just find it somewhat misleading if you aren’t clear about where FBB money goes.

    Quibbling by saying this money won’t go directly to religious charities, is a bit too nice, in my opinion. Money -> supports FBB operations -> able to solicit more money -> donated to support religious organisations

    *with the obvious exception of donating to secular charities with no strings attached–but then you don’t need the religious middleman.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @Ibis — You can live in your atheist-only bubble all you want. I’ll live in the real world where atheists aren’t the only ones who can solve problems.

  • Justin P.

    I still don’t think the only point of mine and lots of others problems has been addressed. If the Church preaches hatred and bigotry, why should we donate to help fix their place for doing so? I’m just a bit perplexed as to why such questions as “Why would God allow his scared home to be desecrated?” Or “Why don’t they just ask God to fix it with a snap of his fingers?”

    I’m still confused by the entire thing and probably will stay confused. I’m not attempting to make enemies with religious people or be in an “atheist only bubble” but many forms of Christianity do preach hatred and bigotry. As linked in the other post on this topic, someone found evidence of homophobic bigotry directly from this church. Is it a good thing to give money to people that do and support such ideas? I hope not.

  • Noah

    This doesn’t change the fact that the church hosts an ex-gay ministry. They’re still bad people for that even if they make diplomatic statments when the cameras are rolling. People have killed themselves because of the effects of ex-gay programs on an individual’s mind.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    Hemant- I think Ibis’s point is that many atheists would only be willing to give to non-religious charities, with zero dollars going to support religion’s pr. It’s not a bubble but a matter of integrity, and support of people not religion. Let others fund religious charities we want no part of it, except the funding they already steal from us through involuntary tax subsidization.

  • chuko

    Hemant, there’s no reason to be so dismissive and rude. Lots of people, including me, feel like representing FBB as a secular charity is disingenuous now. As someone involved, you might want to consider what the insistence on giving to religious groups is doing for the reputation and effectiveness of the FBB instead of reflexively dismissing this criticism. Do you think religious people are going to give a lot to the FBB? Do you think that there aren’t atheists who would give it weren’t supporting religious groups?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @chuko — It’s not dismissive. FBB is a charity that raises money for secular causes. If you don’t believe that, you don’t understand it. No money is used to benefit religion, period. 1 out of 10 charities has any connection to faith — that it’s run by a few religious people — and even that one is secular in what they do and optional to give your donation to. If those religious people want to thank god for what they do, that’s their business.

    We talk about these things *constantly* behind the scenes and I have yet to hear a compelling argument against what we’re doing in that regard. We are interested in making the world a better place and supporting those values that matter to us. If a religious group has those same values, GOOD!

    If you don’t like it, go give money to purely secular charities. I’ll support you. If you want to do it via FBB, I can help set it up so none of your donation goes to the one secular charity run by religious people.

    Some people just love to complain, but most of them are doing nothing to help.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    In regards to this back and forth over FBB, it seems that some of us are coming close to promoting anti-religious bigotry. I’m not accusing anybody specifically of being a bigot, but if an outsider were to judge this exchange, they’d likely be left with the impression that we are an insular and intolerant group.
    I see nothing wrong with Hemant’s position.

  • chuko

    This thread should be a compelling argument. You’re dividing people and pissing off people that might otherwise give to FBB. And you’re doing it needlessly.

  • Anonymous

    No, choosing not to donate is not “bigotry.” And no, Hemant is not causing a schism that will turn people away from FBB who would otherwise donate. Be cool, y’all.

  • http://skepticon.org Katie Hartman

    I have some serious concerns about this that I noted in the previous thread, but the goodwill factor is not lost on me. I understand that the people who donated and the people who refused both had their reasons, and solid points were made all around. Unless I missed it, not a one of us condoned the vandalism.

    The churches’ responses were about as positive as we could expect – no acknowledgment of the gift offered by nontheists, but at least a weakly implied shout-out to non-Christians. If anyone was expecting better, well, there you have it.

    All in all, I’m just glad that it appears neither of these churches will accept the money (I assume that Hemant wouldn’t have to go out of his way to get a hold of someone at Westside if they were actually interested). Aiding organizations that are actively involved in seriously harmful activities like ex-gay ministering is something I just can’t swallow, even in a situation like this where a fairly good argument can be made on a general principle.

    Hopefully this sends a clear message to the vandals that this sort of criminal behavior just fills the coffers faster.

  • Ron in Houston

    Hemant – you go guy.

    There are atheist dogmatists and religious dogmatists. Neither is particularly desirable in my book.

    Note to folks out in the world – it’s not all about YOU.

  • dauntless

    Note to folks out in the world – it’s not all about YOU.

    So I barely make ends meet. I live paycheck to paycheck. When it’s time for me to donate the meager amount of money I can, who should I donate to? An anti-gay church who needs to go spend $12 at Wal-Mart for some top-coat, or to an organization that buys nets that help prevent children from dying from malaria? Oh.. you’re right. It’s not all about me. Let’s all donate $2600 to this poor, poor tax-exempt hate factory.

    Get real. Donating to this church wasn’t “the right thing to do”. The graffiti was, at worst, a minor inconvenience. At best, it was a chance for them to get their message of hate into the newspaper (God will get his revenge?).

    And I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Hemant hasn’t donated even one thin, red cent to any of these ChipIn Funds he organizes.

  • http://skepticon.org Katie Hartman

    And I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that Hemant hasn’t donated even one thin, red cent to any of these ChipIn Funds he organizes.

    And how would you know, exactly? That’s not a fair accusation at all.

  • Matt Solano

    No one was being forced to donate, were they? The money wasn’t going toward the church, was it?

  • Claudia

    Where do the purity tests end? No, we can’t have a compassionate gesture with a church who had an act of vandalism done by people explicitly linking themselves to our community, because we don’t give money to churches.

    Oh it’s not going to the church, but just to the contractor? Well, but that saves the church money and that money they save will go to church activities! (The same logic Republicans use to defund Planned Parenthood –>Pap-smear and breast exam money from the state means PP can use more money for it’s abortions, therefore the state is funding abortions!)

    Oh well the money is going to the Foundation Beyond Belief? They give money to religious charities, which means you’re giving money to churches!

    Ah, organizations are only allowed to get money for secular purposes and are carefully vetted? No, because a religious charity can’t do charity without inserting religion, and we’re just contributing to religions visibility and credibility.

    What’s next? Is it going to be that you can’t give money to the Red Cross because there’s a “cross” in it’s name? Will we argue against donating to MSF because they treat religious people too, including (gasp!) priests, enabling them to live longer lives and spread religion? Will we refuse to give any money to any organization that collaborates with religious organizations on any level? When does it end?

    I find some of the arguments against giving money for this small gesture persuasive, though I would still opt on the side of the gesture myself. However I find this notion that no matter how many degrees separate your money from religious purposes it’s still not enough absurd. I also think that we need to accept the possibility of more than one position within the community being ok. You don’t think this project is worthwhile or you worry about the money going towards things you don’t want? Fine, don’t donate, I understand. However Hemant is being essentially accused of being a “bad secularist” for even having the idea, even though he has put safeguards in place to prevent money going directly to religious organizations. That is not ok.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    If the churches are genuinely keen to prevent further vandalism then perhaps they could have some cameras installed. IP cameras feeding to a remote site are relatively cheap and can be fitted as part of any security system. The sight of cameras may act as a deterent to such vandalism in the future. If they can afford their own maintenance staff then they could probably afford reasonable security as well.

  • http://pinkydead.com David McNerney

    even though we disagreed about theology

    I would hope, however, that you agreed on the secular principle that everyone has a right to believe (or not believe) what they like – without some mindless gurrier vandalising their property.

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

    Initially I was upset so much was going to the church until I learned the extra would be going to another charity. But I’m still upset. I’m upset that a single cent is going to a church that has spouted a hateful message of Hellfire in response (“God will have his revenge”) and to a church that has an ex-gay ministry, of which many are responsible for the suicides of teenaged gays.

    I cannot donate to a cause like this. Not now, not ever.

  • Kenny

    Wow, the vandelism didn’t look bad at all and we’re donating them nearly 3k?

    Poor tax exempt churches contributing nothing but bigotry and ignorance… Yeah let’s give them more cash than they need when people are in poverty just so we can try and score a meaningless goal in a small newspaper article.

  • Carlie

    You’ve helped to shift the tone from “Those nasty atheists are vandalizing churches!” to “Oh, well maybe those nonbelievers aren’t so bad after all.”

    Exactly. That was the point, and it did exactly what it was meant to do. I don’t see it as “money going to a church” so much as “money being spent on good PR to demonstrate the morality of atheists”. It wouldn’t have been done at all if not for some other atheists acting like immature jerks and vandalizing the place to start with, and I certainly don’t want atheists being associated with that kind of person.

    Maybe some of the extra should go to putting up a billboard as close to the church as possible that decries their bigotry.

  • Carlie

    I think it all comes down to a free-speech issue, really. Yes, the church is vile, and says vile things, and promotes vile ideas. But I can’t condone trashing their building any more than I could condone physically assaulting the church members. I think they should be pariahs of society, but it’s not right to do it by means of vandalizing their property. Better to do it by means of showing everyone else that we’re better than them.

  • Angel

    Some people just love to complain, but most of them are doing nothing to help.

    As one of those people who “complained” in the previous post about this fundraising drive, I take serious issue with that generalization. Just because this is where I have drawn the line doesn’t mean that I’m less than those who donated, or those who supported the effort, and I’m certainly not raising my voice purely to hear my own voice. Good grief.

    While I understand you’ve been taking some heat from this all over social media, there is no reason to insinuate that the majority of us who are at ideological loggerheads with this are useless.

  • Jennine

    I think it was a remarkable gesture of kindness help right a wrong. Period.

    I wish their were more friendly Atheists.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I’m seeing this as probably the best possible outcome. We raised money and made a genuine offer to clean up the mess. The church declined. (I bet accepting “atheist money” might not sit well with their membership!) All of this got reported in the same news outlets that covered the story originally, so we got a dose of good PR out of this. The church doesn’t actually wind up with a dime of the money raised, so our money will be going to better causes. Win-win all around.

    Hemant, just to be safe, I would recommend that the money from this chip-in go to FBB, but be designated that it not go to the one religious-backed charity on the list. That seems to be the primary point of concern about FBB donations in the comments.

    Or, give it to Camp Quest!

  • Val

    I think it was a remarkable gesture of kindness help right a wrong. Period.

    I wish their were more friendly Atheists.

    I think it was a remarkable slap in the face to the victims of gay conversion therapy. Period.

    I wish their were more friendly Atheists.

    See what I did there?

  • Drew M.

    Wow, the vandelism didn’t look bad at all and we’re donating them nearly 3k?

    Poor tax exempt churches contributing nothing but bigotry and ignorance… Yeah let’s give them more cash than they need when people are in poverty just so we can try and score a meaningless goal in a small newspaper article.

    The only ignorance I see right now is that of someone who never read the original fucking blog post, nor this blog post, nor the comments.

    Hint: We are not donating nearly $3k to the churches. Go back and read.

  • Neoteny

    I’m still a bit torn about how I feel about this, but it would be nice if people actually read the information that was provided. People just scan the number and then rage the fuck out. The donation may be a bad thing, but it’s hard to take clueless, knee-jerk reactions seriously.

    I’m reminded of my days working in retail where a single sale sign was taken to mean everything in the entire store was half-price. No, dipshit; read the damn sign.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com Yet Another Atheist

    Nearly $3,000 for better P.R. in one area of one state in the U.S. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, we do need all the good P.R. we can get, anywhere. On the other, it just feels like we made a deal with the devil (metaphorically) to do so.

    If this church does indeed have a history of anti-homophobic bigotry, how is it bigotry to refuse to donate money toward helping them out? I just couldn’t, in good conscience, donate a single cent to help them out in any way.

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


    I’m not “rag[ing] the fuck out” when I say that everything in this is just disgusting from the stance of a person who is very likely the type of person they would target. Matt Foss above said:

    You’ve helped to shift the tone from “Those nasty atheists are vandalizing churches!” to “Oh, well maybe those nonbelievers aren’t so bad after all.”

    But I don’t believe this will happen AT all. They’ll never acknowledge our right to non-belief as valid. They’ll continue to say we’re all going to Hell, and we deserve to go to Hell because we don’t believe their babble.

    These churches are hateful, meanspirited, and homophobic. Val made this statement above: “I think it was a remarkable slap in the face to the victims of gay conversion therapy. Period.” I agree. These churches prey on gay teenagers, force them into anti-gay therapy, cause them serious mental problems, and cause some of them to kill themselves rather than continue life in a nature that’s “bad” according to these churches.

    We’re giving money to a hate group. I cannot stand behind that. I think this is a disgusting display by Hemant.

  • Neoteny

    @ Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    That statement was intended to be targeted at those whose main complaint was “we’re giving $2000 to a church?” I have, at his point, ceded that this is an organization that should not receive any support from the atheist movement, so I think we agree. I do think the donors’ hearts are in a good place, but their priorities are not, so I get a bit frustrated when their efforts are rewarded with a such a bland dismissal. Some of the donors may be guilty of the same dismissive behavior, but the dollar amount error is due purely to laziness. It’s the internet, I know, but still irritating.

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


    I made the monetary mistake earlier (I admitted that before.)

    I apologize for unnecessarily directing my ire towards you.

  • Otto

    It’s a little weird to me that Bluebaugh blames the whole thing on the vandals having an extreme belief system. You don’t have to have an extreme dislike of a religion/church to vandalize a building, you just have to be dumb, bored, and/or drunk.

    Given both churches’ insistence that homosexuality is broken, sinful behavior, it might have been appropriate to donate extra funds to something like The Point Foundation.

  • Stogoe

    No matter what sort of harm you think religion causes, even in this case where I think it’s one of the greater harms out there, it doesn’t justify violation of, in this case, property

    This is a strawman. Nobody in the previous thread (that I’m aware of) was cheering the vandalism. What was said was that we couldn’t in good conscience donate to the vicetim, and that the perpetrators and insurance were already going to bear the cost of repair.

  • chuko

    The point isn’t that Hemant’s wrong, the point is that he’s dismissing a perfectly reasonable, and not unpopular, point of view expressed by Ibis. Instead of telling people they’re wrong, it might work better to stop and consider that there are people who think this way about the FBB, and to think about what that might mean for the organization. It’s great that you guys discuss this at your meetings. Why not take these comments into account? Some people feel it’s wrong and counterproductive to give money to religious organizations carrying out secular charity work. Some people feel that it’s disingenuous to call such organizations “secular charities”. You’re probably not going to change that by arguing, especially as this is essentially an ethical issue. So why not accept that, and make decisions at the FBB bearing this, along with any other arguments, in mind? Certainly, explain what you mean by “secular charities”, it’s in everyone’s interest to know, but this other stuff is worthless.

  • Stogoe

    Yes, the church is vile, and says vile things, and promotes vile ideas. But I can’t condone trashing their building any more than I could condone physically assaulting the church members

    Would people stop being exceedingly stupid around here? We’re not applauding the vandalism. It was stupid and wrong. Okay? Do you have an ounce of reading comprehension anywhere on your person?

    What we’re saying is that donating to an ex-gay hate factory for any reason is beyond the pale.

  • Neoteny

    @ Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    No need to apologize. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being misunderstood (especially by those with whom I agree), and, when it happens, it’s usually my fault, so I’m happy to clarify.

    I noted you corrected yourelf when it came to the money, and your argument was stronger because of it. That was more my point.

  • Roxane

    We need to set an example about how to renounce the behavior of our loony fringe–just as we want theists to do. It’s a skill that isn’t exactly common. There is no cheaper way to do this than to send a couple of bucks to a clean-up fund. And if that couple of bucks ends up at FBB, so what?

    And no, it doesn’t mean that the xians will suddenly respect us. It means that a few of them will notice that we have moral impulses–which might make life a little easier for the next non-theist that they happen to run into.

  • http://Whowilldefendgod? John D

    Hooray – the money will go to a proper charity rather than a bigoted gay hating church.

  • Ibis

    1. I want to make it clear that I’ve made no statement about the initial call for donations for vandalism cleanup. I can understand those who felt compelled not to allow the juvenile FSM vandals to speak for atheists without a response from the more moral majority (no pun intended). I also get why there are a lot of people who do not want to show any support under any circumstances for a church that is an anti-gay hate group and who think the appropriate rejoinder to kids tagging their flower pot is to threaten them with eternal torture.

    2. My comment was concerning what I feel is an ongoing misleading characterisation of Foundation Beyond Belief as a wholly secular charity. I don’t think it’s fair since Hemant knows there are many atheists/secularists who have a problem with their practice of supporting religious and interfaith charities. The fact that he and others in the community do not is not at issue. I just ask that when soliciting for FBB, that he be forthright and up front. This allows potential donors to make informed decisions about where they personally want to draw the line.

    @ Hemant

    I don’t live in an atheist-only bubble, nor do I think that religious people can’t do good things. I’ve made a reasoned argument about FBB’s policy. Some people agree with you about it, others agree with me. You are aware that there is no consensus about it but instead of acknowledging that others might have a different but valid ethical perspective, you come out with what amounts to name calling (I’m just a complainer? Really? You know nothing about me and what causes I support.).

    @ all those who threw words like ‘bigot’ and ‘dogmatic’ at me (and by extension at those who feel the same as I do)

    Just because I want to make sure that any organisation I donate to doesn’t promote religion along with their good works does not make me a bigot. I’m perfectly aware that there are many religious charities helping people and the planet. That’s great. Better that some of the money that religion scams out of the gullible and the desperate actually helps the world instead of going into the pockets of the clergy. That doesn’t mean that the motives or methods of those charities do not perpetuate religion–with all of its misogyny and hatred of gays and anti-intellectualism–along the way. If religious charities were all that existed, I’d support them. But we have other choices, and the more we support secular options, the less influence religious organisations will have.

    I’ve given my position a lot of consideration and am open to change my mind if a good argument is presented.

  • Hermann
  • GregFromCos

    I know for me, my ultimate criterion for giving my money to Atheist PR campaigns is this. “What does the most good to reach Christians.” Being a former fundamentalist, and still having many people I consider friends still in the movement, it is something I think about constantly.

    In this case, I had to ask the question. Does it do more good reaching my friends by not offering help to clean up their property, or to offer a gesture to clean up their property? Any former fundamentalist knew they would never accept help from us. But Hermant could not say (nor assume) that.

    When I do the usual thought experiment in this case and ask what would have given me a better view of non-theists. There was no question that an offer help clean up the property is far superior to seeing the money go to something I would have despised (donating to a lgbt charity in the area). I would have seen that as adding insult to injury. And I absolutely would have seen that as non-theists condoning the vandalism.

    We as non-theists have to be mindful of how our actions look to Christians. If we truly want to accelerate the departure of rational Christians from their ranks. We can’t give them reasons to think we are assholes. Not offering help after they were vandalized, certainly would have given them reason to think that they condoned the action. And had we given money to some left leaning charity in the area would have been a slap in the face for them.

    Thankfully Hemant gave us a way to express support for their property (and nothing more). Those of us who felt that it was the best course of action chose to help out.

  • Daniel Miles

    Awesome! The church’s response was surprisingly reasonable, given who they are. I know it doesn’t look like much, but convincing clergy of any stripe to say even a slightly nice thing about non-believers is a victory, and getting clergy of THIS stripe to say it is a major victory.

    The thing in the belief-debate that raises my hackles more than anything is the implication that I’m somehow immoral, that I can’t be good without god. For the few days they’ll remember this, the members of this church have less cause to believe ill of Atheists. Thanks to everybody who donated and especially thanks to Hemant for organizing it.

  • iota

    This is terrific! I love a good arguement discussion when I completely agree with both sides. It’s like experiencing schizophrenia without the side effects. Seriously, the discussion here has been terrific, mostly.

    It is cruel, and requires a truly demented person, to torture gay people with religious hocus pocus to fix them. I despise religion. But Hemant’s effort here is not to help this church but to help us, and that effort has been successful. Perhaps, as an added benefit, a gay person that has been, or is being, terrorized by these people will become aware of this effort and contact Hemant for help. That would be wonderful. One can hope.

  • Carlie

    It’s not giving money to a church. It’s cleaning up after asshole atheists, regardless of what their target was, in order to quell the cries of “look how atheists are assholes”. There was never any intent by Hemant to give those churches a dime above what the cleanup costs would be. Money would never have even needed to go through the hands of anyone in the church at all; someone contracts to clean it up, the fund pays that person’s wages who cleans it.

  • Kenny

    @Some Lady:

    “Forgive my language, but don’t be a dick.”

    Forgive my language but the people in those churches are dicks and I’m not a dick by calling them dicks.

  • http://www.meetup.com/Westside-Science-Religion-Discussion-Group/ Bernie Dehler

    Idea: If the church doesn’t need money, how about spending it on a local billboard to promote atheist groups and also tolerance?

  • DA

    I now feel totally vindicated re; the points I made on previous fsm posts.