South Carolina Soup Kitchen Director Bans Atheist Volunteers, Saying They Would Be a ‘Disservice to This Community’

You may recall that the Upstate Atheists from Spartanburg, South Carolina attempted to volunteer at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen this past spring:

Unfortunately, their efforts were thwarted by the group’s director. She said the soup kitchen was a “place of God” and atheists weren’t welcome. The members still offered to volunteer without wearing their group-identifying shirts — it’s all about helping people, not about publicity, after all — but that idea was also rejected.

The atheists then decided they would help people in a different way. They would get a permit from the city, create care packages for the homeless, and give them away across the street from the soup kitchen.

Each care package costs about $15 to assemble. They have socks, gloves, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, snacks, mini flashlights, lip balm, ponchos, etc.

We are hoping to help the homeless prepare for the winter and give them thing they will be able to use.

They wanted to raise $2,000 and you all helped them surpass that goal. (Great job!)

Their big giveaway is taking place this weekend, and the Spartanburg Herald Journal published a piece on the events that led to this Volunteering Schism. Reporter Dustin Wyatt spoke with the soup kitchen’s director, Lou Landrum, and what she said was absolutely appalling:

Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Executive Director Lou Landrum

… Landrum, executive director of the Soup Kitchen, told the Herald-Journal she would resign from her job before she let atheists volunteer and be a “disservice to this community.”

“This is a ministry to serve God” she said. “We stand on the principles of God. Do they (atheists) think that our guests are so ignorant that they don’t know what an atheist is? Why are they targeting us? They don’t give any money. I wouldn’t want their money.

Yeah! Why don’t atheists give money… that Landrum would never even accept? Why don’t atheists volunteer… even though Landrum would never allow them to volunteer at her soup kitchen? Why are they a disservice to this community… even though Landrum rejects them when they want to help out this community?

There’s no “targeting” going on. The atheists want to help. That’s it. They have no intention of trying to “deconvert” the people who walk through the soup line. Yet the Christian director is refusing to let them help because… because… oh, there’s no good reason, so why bother making an excuse.

In case you’re curious, the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen is, in fact, a religious ministry. They have every right to pick and choose their volunteers. But, as with many of the people who say things in the name of Jesus, when you shine a spotlight on their words, they come off looking like narrow-minded bigots.

I find the atheist ban especially nonsensical when you look at the kitchen’s Mission Statement:

Okay, so I added that last one…

We Believe That:

Every human being should be treated with dignity and respect, therefore we treat all people that eat at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen as our guests and everyone is welcome at our table.

Our volunteers and supporters are a valued asset and we know that they are essential to our success.

We continue to strive to ensure every volunteer and guest has a positive and safe experience with our Soup Kitchen.

Everything we do is to glorify God.

Why do those beliefs go out the window when atheists are the ones who want to help out?

(And what if one of the homeless people was wearing an atheist shirt? Would he be given food?)

“Love the sinner” my ass. If Landrum banned any group other than atheists from volunteering, this would be a much bigger story. (Can you imagine the reaction if the tables were turned and decent Christians who had no intention of proselytizing were rejected from an atheist-run soup kitchen?) I guess when a Christian group treats kind, generous atheists like they’re worthless and evil, it’s just not very newsworthy anymore.

But at least Landrum wishes the atheists well this weekend:

“They can set up across the street from the Soup Kitchen. They can have the devil there with them, but they better not come across the street,” Landrum said.

Those dirty, heathen atheists with their kindness and magnanimity. Why do they have to ruin everything by trying to help those less fortunate?

Jesus would be so pissed off.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • # zbowman

    This is why I couldn’t live in the States. Shit like this makes me feel like abandoning pacifism sometimes.

  • http://iamchristianiamanatheist.blogspot.kr/ Christian Kemp

    Wow, luckily there is no place like Hell as I am sure she would have booked her one way ticket there already. Guess she does some preaching at the Soup kitchen when she can, not knowing what the word altruism really means. You find bad people in the world, and she would classify as one with or without religion.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Okay, I officially apologize to Joey for calling him a “venom sack”. He is not. He is not even vaguely close. This person, Lou Landrum? THAT is a sack of venom.

    • Pepe

      If it were possible, the sack of venom would be offended with that comparison.

      • Feral Dog

        Yeah, venom sacks are at least beneficial to the organisms that have them.

  • MikeInOhio

    Come on. Is anyone really surprised to see something like this? There is nothing in this world that can rival religion for blatant hypocrisy.
    ========================================
    “We Believe That:

    Every human being should be treated with dignity and respect, therefore we treat all people that eat at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen as our guests and everyone is welcome at our table.”

    ========================================

    “This is a ministry to serve God” she said. “We stand on the principles of God.

    =======================================

    Yeah, now I remember that ninth beatitude that Jesus gave.
    “Blessed are the hypocritical douchebags, for they shall be called the assholes of the earth”.

    • Nancy Shrew

      I doubt anyone is surprised so much as thinking some variation of “what a whiny-ass titty baby”.

      • ShhhImReading

        upvote for the use of “titty baby.”

      • Carol Lynn

        Sorry I misunderstood the insult.

        • Oswald Carnes

          “Whiny-ass titty baby” doesn’t necessarily refer to a female; it’s just a baby, male or female, who’s whining for some tit because it’s hungry.

          • Nancy Shrew

            It’s not, though? To me a WATB denotes someone who is such a baby they have not yet been weaned.

        • guest

          pfffft. Get over it. You don’t have the right to NOT be offended.

          • Carol Lynn

            I’m not offended. I just don’t like gendered insults if an alternative is available. If I misunderstood and it’s not a gendered insult, I’ll withdraw my objection. There … gone.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            You do not have the right to prevent others from offending you. You do have the right to be in the state of ‘offended’.

            We are offended by Landrum’s actions and words. We have that right. We do not have the right to make her shut up.

        • Nancy Shrew

          It’s okay, I can see why you thought that.

    • Quit facebook, twitter…think

      :) right on the money!

      • The Other Weirdo

        Not atheist money.

    • nash984954

      Good point. I’m not surprised, as I was born 30 miles away from Spartanburg, I’m so happy I got away from the South and its closed minded people like Jim De Mint Lindsay Graham, etc.

      • http://twitter.com/jimbolandjots jimbolandjots

        And I thought Alabama – my home state – was awful! South Carolina gives ‘Bama a run for its money when it comes to irrationality and bigotry disguised as religion…

  • Pepe

    That’s appalling. I can only hope some decent Christians speak out against this woman.

    • Matt D

      Unfortunately, most of them do not make a habit of visiting Atheist blog sites, thus this sort of news is very likely to escape their notice.

      • Oswald Carnes

        And the ones that do visit atheist blog sites tend not to be decent.

        • Eliza

          I’m an atheist who heard about this because one of my Christian friends posted it in disgust (with the soup kitchen director, not the atheists who wanted to help). Both of us live in Upstate SC near where this occurred. I actually read Friendly Atheist regularly but hadn’t seen the article here, yet.

      • Elizabeth Cox

        Um, one of my atheist friends posted a picture about this story, and I was just looking for more information about it, and found your blog. I wouldn’t usually post because I don’t think there is much I can say that would be helpful, but for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. I think it’s wonderful that you are moved to help your fellow humans, and I’m glad that you were actually able to do so even in spite of the Christian stumbling blocks in your way, and I’m really sorry that there -were- stumbling blocks in your way and not encouragement.

        I’m afraid people are a little confused by the anti-christ passages and the word atheist, and seem to believe them to be synonyms. But you aren’t pretending to be Christians while not believing in God, you’re very clear and honest about your beliefs. We Christians are supposed to care about truth. God isn’t a sales program. He doesn’t need to sign up a bunch of unwilling souls so His numbers are high enough. He’s not desperate. Lip service does not please Him (In fact, quite the opposite!). What does please Him is looking after widows and orphans and hungry people, and clothing the naked and standing up for the oppressed. We should rejoice that you want to do these things! We should clap you on the back!

        So, again, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

          Good for you. Here in the UK we have people like her too but (thankfully) not as many as seem to show up with depressing regularity from the (mainly Southern) States. Most christians i meet are perfectly decent & tolerant folk.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    You have to believe in GAWD when you’re spooning out soup, otherwise it’s a disservice to the community!

    • lmern

      I wonder if they know or care about the religious affiliations of the people they’re serving? Do they assume everyone who partakes of their offerings convert out of guilt?

      • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

        I’m sure they do.

      • David Kopp

        They believe in magic. There’s no logical analysis.

      • smrnda

        I’ve seen many ‘ministries’ be very quiet about the ministry until they get some hungry people around, and then they subject everyone to preaching or such as a hoop they need to jump through to get some food or whatever help they need.

      • Oranje

        They assume their clientele is all Christian. Atheists have all of those babies to eat, don’t forget, and don’t need a soup kitchen.

      • Stev84

        I’m certain they would kick out a homeless atheist. Or a gay one. Happens frequently enough in similar places.

      • nash984954

        I was in a Pentecostal orphanage and they ran a Rescue Mission in town with beds and soup kitchen. They had a chapel next door if you didn’t attend the chapel services you got no bed nor any food. In SC.

        • lmern

          I guess it shouldn’t surprise me but, that’s pretty sick. Anything for a few more conscripts eh? It’s painfully obvious the only reason they feed the poor and send missionaries abroad is to increase their flock. ugh.

  • Jeff

    Gee, wouldn’t this be a great story for Joe Klein? He would be able to see that atheists are helping because no one wants our help. Wonder what he would think of that?

    • Brian Westley

      Funny how you never see Joe Klein not . . . never helping . . . nobody.

  • TommyNIK

    I wonder if Ms. Landrum would refuse help from an atheist if said atheist was the only one around who knew CPR and she was having a heart attack? Merely a hypothetical I know but……jes’ askin’.

    • ITA

      No no, buddy, you’re doing it wrong. Your hands should be crossed on the chest, not clasped together around your cross…

    • Oswald Carnes

      I think it would be spiritually dangerous for an atheist to assist Ms. Landrum in any way were she to have a heart attack or any other medical event. That person would be putting him or herself between Ms. Landrum and her savior. I wouldn’t want to be in that position, and I don’t think Ms. Landrum would want me there.

      Besides, she wants to go to heaven, doesn’t she?

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ DaisyDeadhead

    Great post! Some of these folks in Upstate Atheists are my good friends, dedicated to social justice. (they were on my radio show reporting this incident) Any group should be honored to include them.

    Diversity is GOOD, but sometimes, South Carolina forgets that.

  • Ahab

    No, Ms. Landrum, demonstrating prejudice and preventing people from serving others is the real disservice to your community.

  • Machintelligence

    This is just another example of an ignorant Christian who believes that “if you are not with us, you must be against us” and are therefore in league with the devil. This attitude is sadly quite common.

    • nash984954

      Religion is akin to the idea in psychology that people buy into, that they are exclusive and above the mediocre around them, as in people like to think they belong while others do not. Kinda like the basis for cliques folks who think they have the best country, go to the best schools, have the one true religion with them, etc.It’s a kind of arrogance…I’m better than you are, my dad can beat your dad nonsense.

  • sk3ptik0n

    Yes, how dare we try to help the community while at the same time promoting who we are and what we stand for.

    The Christians would never do something like that. They just give for giving sake and they never use charity as a promotional device or, god forbid, to harvest souls.

    • sam

      The christians have never had reality or truth on their side. Charity is the only marketing tool they have to convert others. Now the filthy atheists are taking away their false claims of having a monopoly on charity. I can see why they are deeply threatened by charitable atheists.

      • Nox

        That is what is meant by “disservice to the community”. It will be harder to portray their preferred depiction of atheism if these atheists are seen engaging in charitable acts.

  • Castilliano

    In her clouded-by-christianity mind, where “Hell, eternal suffering” is balanced against “observable suffering”, she’s being reasonable, even noble.
    Which is why religion is so insidious, giving superstition precedent over charity (and education, friendships, family, science…better stop before I fill the page.)

    Sadly, it also shows she’s being good for all the wrong reasons.
    Hopefully, the moderates are wincing.

  • idahogie

    My guess is that she’s an Oprah fan.

  • A3Kr0n

    I would think she would take this as a perfect opportunity to try to show the atheists the perfect glory of the Lord. Guess not today.

  • Nancy Shrew

    Was there a “Your God Is Bullshit” pamphlet that came with the care package?

  • Unwelcome

    Every human being should be treated with dignity and respect, therefore we treat all people that eat at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen as our guests and everyone is welcome at our table.

    Unless you’re an atheist.

    I have to wonder what Ms. Landrum would do if she found out that one of the people her soup kitchen helps was an atheist. I can only hope that she wouldn’t do exactly the same thing and kick them out.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      That’s precisely what she would do. She would see that person as “a viper in their midst.” It would not matter to her if that person were the most valuable, most hard working and self-sacrificing person in the place, and that they had been there benefitting the soup kitchen for 20 years. She would instantly kick that person out.

      This woman does not see atheists as people. She sees nothing but her scary, ugly stereotypes of atheists, and no amount of showing her that reality is different from her prejudices will penetrate her mind. This is the power of bigotry. It overwhelms all reason, obscures seeing contradictory reality right in front of you, and it obliterates love, respect, and caring. It is madness.

      • 7Footpiper

        I think that Unwelcome was talking about one of the users of this soup kitchen. In which case this atheist would be targeted for conversion and what a ruthless conversion it would be too. As Hitchens put it (bear in mind I can’t find the exact quote, so I’m going from memory) , “Oh, so decline our offer of eternal salvation? Well, we have plenty in store for you!”.

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          Yeah I misread Unwelcome’s post. I thought it was about an atheist who might be helping in the soup kitchen, rather than an atheist being helped by the soup kitchen.

          My opinion stands anyway.

    • Rockobscurities

      My guess is that she would feed the atheist, and attempt to proselytize as well. And I see nothing wrong with that.

  • anniewhoo

    From the soup kitchen’s website: “The Soup Kitchen knows no
    boundaries, no one is turned away. The stories of love and acceptance are
    abundant as are the friendships made not only with the recipients but with the
    volunteers who will tell you they receive more than they give. ”

    Did I read that right? No boundaries? No one is turned away? If Lou Landrum is so quick to turn away genuine offers of help from potential volunteers, it sure makes me wonder if she is also willing to turn away people in need, simply because they do not match her version of “needy.” Landrum is a poor example of a caring human, but perhaps she hits the “true Christian™” right on the nose.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

    I don’t know why anyone is surprised that a Christian believes atheists are dangerous and bad. It’s in the holy text.

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

    Something strikes me as odd, and frankly, inconsistent. If someone is indoctrinated to fear hell and sin, we often times consider that person to be a victim of religion. We offer sympathy and help to overcome the damage done. But if a person is indoctrinated to hate and fear atheists, homosexuals, etc, we often blame them for bigotry and close-mindedness. We offer insults, shame, and condemnation.

    • Artor

      Well of course. In the first case, the person is suffering by themselves, afraid of the dark and fearful that the world is full of demons out to get them. In the second case, that person is inflicting their own fears on others, and demonizing people that have never done them any harm. I can completely sympathize with the first, but when someone starts hurting others, for whatever reason, my sympathy quickly evaporates.

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

        I considered the point you’ve raised while I was writing my previous post. People can fear hell and act upon it to harm others, which, I assume, would lessen your sympathy for them. In the other category, people can hate homosexuals to themselves, though I understand that they wouldn’t be subject the social reaction I described without having first expressed it.

        I think a person indoctrinated with bad reasons to hate someone or something is a victim. When that person acts upon it, he certainly is guilty of harm, but I don’t think it diminishes his victimhood. To be clear, I’m speaking of people whose hate is exclusively derived from indoctrination.

    • baal

      I’m going to spend some time thinking about your point. My first response, however, is that I expect adults to eventually give up thinking the thoughts they did as a child. I know a lot don’t and that’s the entire point of early indoctrination (and why they are so dead set on have god crap all over the public schools).

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

        Cool. I hope you’ll share any insights you come to.

  • NathanExplosion

    Does she think that atheists are devil worshippers?

    She seems very ignorant.

    • DigitalAtheist

      Sadly, being from Spartanburg County (40+ years), Yes, YES she does believe atheists are devil worshippers. Of course here, a good percentage of the Protestant churches believe Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of God, and every other fucking denomination but there own are Devil worshippers… or, and most churches of their select denomination are SICO. Sect In Name Only.
      Sigh.

      • nash984954

        Just before the Holy Roman Church rampage against witches, the new enemy they needed after virtually wiping out the Dualists who felt if you believe in god you must also believe in Satan else you weren’t a ‘real’ Xian.

  • EdmondWherever

    Oh THIS’LL be fun to watch…

  • DougI

    Christians love their hate more than they do caring for the homeless and hungry.

  • LesterBallard

    “We stand on the principles of God” How fucking true.

  • memfisman

    Pitiful just pitiful! They’d better be glad she doesn’t demand that they be stoned.

  • Jeff See

    It totally smacks of pride. The one good thing from this, and every example like this; the more people demonstrate that all things that man does, is, and is of, man, the less people will fall for belief in mythos.

  • WallofSleep

    As petty and childish as Landrum’s position certainly is, it would seem the end result here is a win/win for the homeless. Some food on one side of the street from the soup kitchen, and some clean socks and hygiene products from the atheists on the other side of the street.

    Side note for those interested in putting together care packages for the homeless or anyone else who has to spend a fuck-load of time outdoors in a lousy environment: you simply cannot underestimate the value wet wipes. Include lots of them.

    • 7Footpiper

      While all of the responses I have read so far are pretty spot on, I like that you pointed out that in the end the benefit to the homeless is now double.

      • WallofSleep

        What can I say? I’ve spent a bit of time out-of-doors myself.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

    hurting the poor and powerless: for 2,000 years, the motto of xtianity.

    • smrnda

      If they ran out of poor people who need food, who would they force to listen to their spiel?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    And this was exactly the point Phil Zuckerman was making. All religions are inherently divisive. Even if you accept anyone and everyone at your table, some of them are in your group and some are not.

    Secular humanism not only accepts everyone at the table, but everyone is an equal player at the table.

    • Kellen Connor

      I need a humanist word for “amen” so I can say it here.

      • ShoeUnited

        I prefer “fucking right”. But that’s just me.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Would the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s “Ramen” help?

      • # zbowman

        ‘Word!’

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Sha-mon!

        -Michael Jackson, Bad

      • Elizabeth Cox

        How about ‘that’s true’ or ‘certainly’ or ‘so be it’? (Since that’s roughly what Amen meant).

  • Quit facebook, twitter…think

    I’m an atheist and that is just another reason why i fight against religion. it is just negative to the human experience. the balance of how much good religions create is very very low when faced with the evil it creates or allows to exist. i will never forgive and forget the inquisition and crusades. millions died just because they did not believe in christ or simply because they were framed as worshipers of the devil without any chance to defend themselves.
    just because it happened 800 years ago, we simply ignore this hedious endeavour from the catholic church. they should have been dismantled because of what they did, but the vatican/pope were never taken into the hands of justice to be prosecuted for killing so many innocent lives.
    end religion. if people want, they can keep their spirituality, believe in god or whatever, but no organized religion should exist. banned forever.

  • Theory_of_I

    Read the article, thought I’d write to the lady:

    ____

    Second Presbyterian Church Soup Kitchen
    To: Director Lou Landrum

    Ms. Landrum

    I have just read of your mean spirited rejection of the Spartanburg area atheists’ offer to provide volunteers to help wherever they can in the Second Presbyterian Church Soup Kitchen program of assistance for the homeless.

    Have you adopted your hard-hearted attitude as a result of your personal interpretation of the charity and good will Jesus would want you to express?

    Do you publicly display the same degree of hatred towards Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and all the others who do not share your divisive and narrow-minded Christian beliefs?

    How does your antagonistic behavior benefit the homeless and less fortunate persons whom the kitchen program is ostensibly intended to aid?

    Your derisive attitude and vilifying comments give the kitchen program a bad name and reveal an obvious character fault that disqualifies you from holding the position of Director. Please consider resigning and separating yourself from the program.

    While I consider your stance on this matter disgusting, I think I can speak for the majority of the millions of atheists, agnostics and humanists in the US in thanking you and others like you for helping make the secular segment of the population the fastest growing social dynamic of the decade.

    /S/
    _______

    Well, well, well… the S’burg Soup Kitchen server is down and Ms. Landrum’s contact email is unavailable — Who’d a thunk?

    • Rob McClain

      Grab a stamp and send your well-played vitriol to her at:

      136 D. Forest St. Spartanburg, SC 29306

      Please add my name to the bottom.

      • Theory_of_I

        Used Stephanie’s new link.

        Done!

    • Stephanie Austin
      • Theory_of_I

        The active link now is lelansoupk@bellsouth.net The att link is still dead.

        Success!
        Thanks for the link.
        ________
        Edit:***
        sure — Now this:

        :
        Remote host said: 550 [SUSPEND] Mailbox currently suspended – Please contact correspondent directly [RCPT_TO]

        • Stephanie Austin

          Surprise! Surprise! If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen!

          (I’ll show myself out!)

  • Robster

    It’s a communion plot let me tell you. Tell the clients it’s soup but sneak in some jesus blood and a cracker surreptitiously and the homeless people will be downing bits of the saviour and be completely unaware of this. Then, the helpful Christians can claim to have captured/collared/gained x number of happy new converts with their jesusy flavoured soup and croutons!

    • allein

      This made me think of the Criminal Minds episode where the killer joined in the search party and volunteered to make some stew for the volunteers, and it turned out he was serving the missing victim to the searchers.

  • Tyler Beal

    Not surprising, but this isn’t the outrage everyone makes it out to be. Try to flip the situation: An atheist soup kitchen should be forced to accept volunteers from a church? its their soup kitchen, their food (as far as we can tell) and their facility and they have every right to run it however they like.

    What’s unfortunate and outrageous are the woman’s judgmental comments. But there’s nothing hypocritical or wrong about a group wanting to do things their way.

    • David Kopp

      So you’re saying that if I didn’t want any religious people helping with my charity, and I called them an evil pox upon humanity, Christians would just shrug and say “That’s how it goes, not an outrage at all”?

      If so, I’ve got this bridge in Brooklyn…

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I honestly can’t imagine a secular organization of any kind refusing help from anyone so long as they didn’t want to proselytize. And the atheists were perfectly happy to no wear their atheist shirts.

      So, although the US Constitution figuratively protects one’s right to be an asshole, I’m just not seeing how this particular situation flips.

    • smrnda

      I actually help run a secular charity/service organization. I get volunteers from religious organizations and so far, I haven’t told anyone to *hide symbols of their faith* or turned them away, just asked that they do the work and I’ve never had anyone turn the service into a chance to proselytize.

      The reason? I’d hate to be a shit to people who want to help, and as long as people can follow the rules about what to do and what not to do, I don’t care what their religion is or if they make it public while doing the volunteer work. It’s because it’s about the people we serve and not our egos.

    • Theory_of_I

      well, considering the charitable purpose involved, it’s not like a pro football team putting a quadriplegic in the starting lineup. That’s a weak excuse in defense of the petty thinking of a fundamentalist mindset — who really benefits from that?

    • Andy_Schueler

      But there’s nothing hypocritical or wrong about a group wanting to do things their way.

      Then you have incredibly low standards. If I would be a member of a charity that refuses christian volunteers just because they are Christians (if they would do nothing but proselytize, instead of actually working, it would be a completely different matter), I would quit immediatly and be very vocal about why I quit.

      • Tyler Beal

        That’s your right to quit on those grounds, but the group can still do what it wants provided they aren’t getting government funds. Its regrettable, its shitty, its narrow minded and tribal, but that’s how it is.

        I’ve worked in Soup Kitchens before (when I was religious) and often times there wasn’t a shortage of volunteers. That soup kitchen wanted to lead a prayer before the service and that was their prerogative. If a group of atheists came to volunteer there, wearing their atheist group t-shirts, it would be enormously distracting.

        This isn’t to say that this woman’s words aren’t shitty or that she’s not a bigot, obviously she could have done this far more diplomatically.

        • smrnda

          Atheists in t shirts wouldn’t be too distracting if the only point was feeding people who were hungry. Obviously the idea is to get a captive audience for prayer and preaching which is why the prayer comes first before the food. At least this demonstrates that Xtian ‘charity’ is usually just a means of getting new recruits.

          Totally, you can run an organization any way you want, but that might just mean your organization is run by assholes.

    • blasphemous_kansan

      “But there’s nothing hypocritical or wrong about a group wanting to do things their way.”

      Thanks for confirming that the main goal is not to help people, but rather to exploit a power dynamic in order to exert “their way” over their fellow humans.

      “Their way” > feeding people. Got it.

    • Tim

      I couldn’t disagree more. It is very hypocritical for a supposed charitable organization, whose primary mission is to help feed the poor, to turn away those who want to help accomplish that mission simply because they don’t share the same belief in a deity. By denying the atheists’ offer to help – an offer made without any strings attached that would have cast their church in a bad light – you simply demonstrate to the world that helping others is less important than enticing them into your kitchen – when they’re at their weakest and most vulnerable – for the sole purpose of converting them to your way of thinking.

  • corhen

    at least she’s honest. She isn’t running a soup kitchen to help other people, or to improve humanity,

    She’s doing it to try and buy a ticket to heven

    • Glasofruix

      That’s basically what 99% of christians do when they give to charity (or their church, because god needs money).

  • Janet Holmes

    Clearly Landrum’s goal is not so much to help others, as to get herself into heaven. Atheist volunteers would help the former goal but cannot possibly be of any use in the latter. We’d better hope this one never loses her faith, she’s clearly not interested in charity for the sake of helping anyone but herself.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      Did you consider that she might be trying to help others get into heaven by protecting them from being misled by atheists?

      • Glasofruix

        How’s an atheist poured soup is any more misleading than soup poured by a christian?

        • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

          I was looking at the situation from another perspective. To me, there isn’t a difference. To a person who believes atheists are evil, dangerous influences which can put a Godly person’s faith and salvation in jeopardy, it matters.

          • Glasofruix

            Stupidity is no excuse.

            • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

              Once upon a time, I thought I was a Christian. The fear and misunderstanding I had of atheism endured even after my faith in Christianity was gone. My intelligence didn’t increase when I lost my faith. The difference was knowledge. Eventually, I learned what it actually means to be an atheist, and I stopped being afraid.

              I went through a period of anger and frustration, with much contempt for Christianity. I thought all religious people were stupid. I wanted to argue with them at every opportunity, and to smash their arguments to pieces. I wanted to humiliate them.

              Several years later, the rage inside me finally subsided. I was able to see that many of the Christians I had been mistreating were very much like my former self. This is why I try to see things from other people’s perspectives, and not merely dismiss them as stupid because I disagree with them.

          • Stephanie Austin

            Then they really have a problem if just being in the mere presence of an atheist (who isn’t always wearing that t-shirt) makes them lose their faith.

            • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

              If that were the case, I would agree. I think it’s more about controlling exposure to people with dangerous and subversive ideas.

              • Stephanie Austin

                Dangerous and subversive? The volunteers are supposed to be there because they want to help. Proselytizing shouldn’t even be an issue. What are these people afraid of?

                • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

                  You’re somehow completely missing the point. I’m not talking about my perspective, or yours. I’m talking about a Christian perspective.

                  Do you understand that some religious people believe their religious teachings?

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Proof, were any needed, that they believe their dogma is more important than helping their fellow humans.

  • Bruce Martin

    Which side is “with” the devil? Those, such as Christians, who believe in a devil, or those atheists, who do not?
    She is both bigoted and illogical.

  • Len

    Do they (atheists) think that our guests are so ignorant that they don’t know what an atheist is?

    What does Executive Director Landrum think atheists are?

  • Quetil

    Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Executive Director Lou Landrum does notvalue an honest atheist to be worthy of beeing a good Samaritan. Jesus what a selfrighteous bigot and anti humanist.

  • riddles

    I just hope that there is a way for her to suffer from the backlash of this bigotry without the charity side suffering. She is already causing it harm anyway by denying aid just because of who is supplying it.

  • Ben Porter

    I try not to get to pissed bout stuff like this but what a bitch

    • Dekker Van Wyk

      Don’t insult bitches like that! My dog is a bitch and I like her very much.

  • MikeInOhio

    “They can set up across the street from the Soup Kitchen. They can have the devil there with them, but they better not come across the street,” Landrum said.

    Here is another irony that is completely lost on Ms. Landrum. 50 years ago, in Spartanburg, that is exactly what they would have been saying about someone who looked like HER!! My, oh my. I can imagine the conversation might have gone something like this.

    “This is a ministry to serve God. We stand on the principles of God. Do
    ni@#$ers think that our guests are so ignorant that they don’t
    know what a ni@#$er is? Why are they targeting us? They don’t give any
    money. I wouldn’t want their money.“

    Apparently, Ms. Landrum has conveniently forgotten her history.

  • Franklin Bacon

    The lady realizes that christian charity is for publicity

  • CultOfReason

    … Landrum, executive director of the Soup Kitchen, told the Herald-Journal she would resign from her job before she let atheists volunteer and be a “disservice to this community.”

    “This is a ministry to serve God” she said. “We stand on the principles of God. Do they (atheists) think that our guests are so ignorant that they don’t know what an atheist is? Why are they targeting us? They don’t give any money. I wouldn’t want their money.“

    Imagine the uproar that would ensue if we take Ms. Landrum’s rant and substituted the word ‘atheist’ with ‘black’, ‘gay’, ‘jew’ or any other minority group. The words bigotry and ignorance comes to mind.

    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • baal

    “Atheists are wicked.”

    Good thing I’m waxy too.
    When the power goes out, all I need is a match and boom, self illumination.

  • YouHaveMoreThanTwoChoices

    This is exactly why government should not give one single
    dollar or tax break to ANY religious organization. This is exactly why
    treasonous people who hold gods laws above that of the state should be prevented
    from holding office.

  • eric

    “This is a ministry to serve God”

    Not poor people – God. You got that?

  • Casey

    As a Christian I’m sad that someone would do this in Jesus’ name. As someone from the Spartanburg area I’m not surprised by the director’s words tho. Many “Christians” especially the older ones around there are very elitist and close minded and close hearted. Morals go beyond belief indeed, as the Atheists’ group’s logo says. She could’ve accepted them with open arms and been respectable about their not wearing the shirts and she may have come from it a better person. Instead she is another bad Christian headline

    • Kellen Connor

      As an atheist, I appreciate your empathy. It would be a better world if more theists were as tolerant as you.

    • Matt D

      Thank you Casey. It’s deeply appreciated that you place empathy above appearances, and it warms my heart to see a difference in beliefs does not deter you from understanding that when we all find merit in helping those less fortunate, everyone wins.

  • KelpieLass

    It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes. Everything was fine, everyone was happy. The important people strutting around were respected and admired. The people selling invisible clothes were making a fortune, living it up in big houses.

    Just Don’t Let Anyone Say It’s All Fake.

    If even one person says they can’t see the clothes, other people will realize they’ve be tricked into believing in nothing. Paying out thousands of dollars for nothing. And the whole shebang will come falling down.

    That’s why christians cannot be allow atheists to be seen, heard or acknowledged.

    Muslems, Hindus, etc. are just selling a different brand of invisible clothes, competition but not so bad. Atheists are dangerous to the whole bleeping fraud.

  • Donald Jones

    Just wondering if a Homeless comes to us first and picks up a package, will she not let him in at the Kitchen because of the package?

    • Kellen Connor

      Huh, you know I wouldn’t be surprised if she thought the devil was in the care package. Because that’s what atheists pack. :/

  • Lea Tapp

    You’d think that these Christians wouldn’t want to hide their light under a bushel by excluding atheists from their charitable works. Meanwhile, has Landrum never read the parable of the good Samaritan? Maybe someone should read her Bible to her.

  • KelpieLass

    I wonder if Ms. Landrum will be joining the new book review club…..

  • hadenough

    i think i’m most insulted at the “They can set up across the street from the Soup Kitchen. They can have the devil there with them, but they better not come across the street”

    1) we atheists don’t believe in the devil, why would he be there there with them?
    2) what if they DO go across the street? is that a threat?

  • Gus

    See, here I thought a soup kitchen’s purpose was to serve the hungry. Turns out it’s to serve God. That explains everything. It also explains why we need more secular charities whose purpose is to serve the needy instead.

    Do we think they’re so ignorant that they don’t know what an atheist is? Yes, yes we do. She obviously is, since she thinks atheists are cavorting with the devil while giving out care packages. It doesn’t take a whole lot of ignorance to not know what an atheist is. Most Americans are probably ignorant of what an atheist is.

  • Brandon Vaughan

    I sadly live in Spartanburg. It’s a crappy city. There’s nothing to do, the people are bigoted, and this sort of thing happens and the thing is, 95% of the people here will see this news and be like PRAISE JESUS.

  • Stev84

    And once again we see that Christian “charity” often has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with helping people. It’s mostly about spreading religion.

  • WingsThree

    A nice email to Lou was rejected – email account suspended. A bit of fallout perhaps?

    • baal

      Almost anyone who makes news today winds up getting volume bombed if not death threatened. In light of that, I’d close my primary email and set up new ones too.

      It’s also possible that her email host caps out at a certain volume and auto prevents new ones from coming in until the back log is cleared.

  • nash984954

    Reminds me of how I felt at a Methodist orphanage who attended public school and when offering help for various communtiy projects they always gave an excuse, but I know it was because of their bias against us kids at the home. Most were afraid of us, as if we were in a juvenile reform school or something.We just wanted to help and be normal like everyone else, but they just never accepted us.Odd that as an adult atheist I get the same treatment, as if they are better than we are because they are Xians.,

  • Debbie

    People often claim that religion makes people better or kinder or more compassionate. Believers consistently prove that this isn’t so. They only want to be kind on their own terms, within conditions that push their own cause forward. I know also from personal experience that when I left religion, I was floored by how much judgement (that I didn’t even realise I was feeling) fell away from me and how much more compassion I felt. Religion narrows the mind.

  • Matthew Baker

    This is one of those stories that make you check the calendar to see what year it is.

    • Matt D

      Year of the Snake…that would be appropos, if one is using the common stereotypes about them.

      • RowanVT

        Hey now, don’t malign my snakes! They are wonderful, docile, and beautiful creatures who don’t care who you are as long as you are a gentle mouse-providing-mobile-tree-thing.

        • Matt D

          I’m afraid my own preference for small furry animals (such as rats, hamsters, mice, etc) as pets has made me a bit predjudice to snakes because of their eating habits, but it’s VERY minor since mine are no better! Thus I fully agree with you that they can make great pets, although I’d prefer snakes that eat frozen meals than live ones.

          • RowanVT

            I feed all of mine frozen-thawed rodents. I’m a veterinary technician. My job is to minimize suffering and I feel that feeding live causes suffering to the mouse. Plus, live rodents can transmit pinworms and with a bit of luck can even kill a snake. My sister-in-law witnessed a rat kill a young ball python with a single bite. I own a 14 year old yellow ratsnake who has been blind for years. His old owner continued feeding him live rats and the rats eventually won. He’s scarred to hell, lost 2 inches of his tail, and that last rat bit him in the face, doing some serious damage. He takes F/T just fine, and I decided to name him Ratbait, because he looked kinda like a bait dog with all his wounds. ;_;

        • Stev84

          And now and then they take crazy preachers out of the gene pool :)

  • CriticalThunker

    It seems fairly obvious that the atheist group did this with the goal being generating a reaction. It looks like that worked pretty well. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just walk in and not mention their beliefs, or lack thereof, and simply volunteer. By pulling this crap they are essentially behaving in the same disrespectful manner that many religious organizations do.

    • RowanVT

      They offered to volunteer without doing anything to identify themselves as atheists while they were there. They, as an organization, wanted to do something for charity. They were rejected, even after they tried to bend over backwards in order to be able to volunteer. They did nothing disrespectful. We get told that “you never see atheists” helping out the community. People are trying to change that perception. But apparently we’re too evil to help serve food to hungry people.

      • CriticalThunker

        Perhaps I misunderstood the line “The members still offered to volunteer without wearing their group-identifying shirts” which gives the impression they wanted to volunteer with their shirts on originally.

        • RowanVT

          They did. Because that’s what organizations do. You see such things at soup kitchens, clean-ups, and disasters all the time. Yes, the place running the soup kitchen was religious, but the vast majority of such places are.

          Then they went “Okay, we’ll do it without the shirts” and they were still rejected. Because atheism bad.

          • CriticalThunker

            The main issue is that people feel the need to wear these shirts to support their groups in the first place. In this case it just seems like it was done to get under the lady’s skin.

            I’m trying to play the devil’s advocate (er something, hail satan) or at least trying to look at both perspectives on this.

            • RowanVT

              … Or they wanted to wear the shirts, because they wanted to show that atheists aren’t evil baby-eating monsters. Atheists do want to volunteer. And we want to be seen volunteering sometimes, so that people stop saying “You never see atheists helping the poor” and other such stupid statements. And you can’t accomplish that unless you can be identified.

              However, the vast majority of soup kitchens are run by religious organisations. It’s not an attempt to get under their skin, but to say “Hey, we’re here too… and we’d like to help too, because we’re all human and we should all help.”

              But no. Atheists are bad and evil and terrible people who just want attention.

              Bullshit. Bullshit on your attempt at devil’s advocate.

              • CriticalThunker

                I volunteer without bringing up my atheism. I’d rather be known as a good person than a good atheist.

                • RowanVT

                  So you’re fine with society in general thinking that atheists in general don’t help out? You’re fine with society in general thinking that atheists in general are amoral and untrustworthy? You’re fine with people telling me “Oh, you’re an atheist? But you’re so nice and you help people!” I find that offensive, and hurtful.

                • CriticalThunker

                  I’m not fine with it, I’m used to it. I also don’t care either way. Besides, isn’t that what we do to the religious and what they do to each other?

                • RowanVT

                  If you don’t care… then you’re okay with it. I’ve been told I’m evil, because I’m an atheist. How can this not bother you?

                  I do not find people to be amoral or untrustworthy because they are religious. I do not pre-judge them simply because they are religious, the way I’m often pre-judged for being an atheist. I am not startled by a religious person being kind. I do not feel vindicated or triumphant when one is cruel. I do point out hypocrisy, like the catholic church’s wealth when faced with their own religion’s extolling of the virtues of poverty.

                  So no, this is not what we do to the religious. We are not painting everyone with the same brush, but we do point out things like “Your chosen religious path says X, but you do things directly counter to X, how do you reconcile that?” to *individuals* or *individual organizations*.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Just understand that the people who called you evil are simply ignorant. That should be enough to get over your feelings and proceed with your life.

                  You and I are a lot alike with the exception that I simply don’t care if a religious person thinks I am a terrible person. What they believe does not affect my life in any way.

                  I point out hypocrisy as well when religion is shoved down my throat. It’s rather entertaining when they try to justify their argument. I will, however, never start the argument.

                • RowanVT

                  So you think ignoring ignorance is the best way to deal with it. Not educate people. Not show them, through positive actions, that they are wrong.

                  You know how you come across? As completely lazy. It’s too much effort for you to do anything and you therefore think WE should all be lazy as well.

                  Bullshit once again.

                • CriticalThunker

                  In a previous comment I stated that I’m all for educating people. At the same time I believe that everyone should make up their own mind. My main issue is the attempt to push intelligent design, religion, and anti-science education into our classrooms.

                  Who am I to push my lack of beliefs on someone else? If they want to talk about it that’s fine. I’ve had plenty of wonderful conversations about religion, atheism, and science, with incredibly religious people.

                  I simply don’t feel the need to be arrogant about my beliefs. If you want to call that lazy that’s fine. I don’t let it run my life. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends too much to worry about what others think of me. It isn’t worth my time to educate a person whose mind can’t be changed.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  “Good for you.”

                  Magically, your decisions do not make people who make other decisions automatically suspect of committing deceit for spurious reasons that would require them to have psychic knowledge.

                • CriticalThunker

                  What sort of drugs are you on exactly? You essentially just pulled a Greenspan with your last statement.

                • CriticalThunker

                  I love how the title of this blog is “Friendly Atheist” yet you all seem to be dicks.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I’m failing to understand the problem with them actually identifying as atheists.

          So, if they had kept their atheism under wraps, and smiled nicely when being told they were doing God’s work, they could have snuck in?

          I think being able to lie and get past the Christian Radar isn’t really the point.

          • CriticalThunker

            Why have to lie at all? Show up, volunteer, keep your mouth shut about your beliefs, leave, and feel good about yourself because you did something good for the community.

            The Lady obviously has a few screws loose, not withstanding the fact that she is religious. I am in no way defending her.

            • RowanVT

              I note that you seem to be ignoring the point I brought up about how many people think that atheists don’t ‘do’ charity work. Because during disasters, during clean-ups, and while helping at homeless shelters, organizations wear shirts saying where they are from… and what you normally see are religious folk. So some atheists want to say “We’re here too, and we want to help, too” with their shirts. But that is evil-wrong-bad-attention-seeking for an atheist, but totes okay for a religious person.

              • CriticalThunker

                I get your point. That just isn’t my style. They’re effectively emulating what a lot of atheists dislike about religious organizations.

                • RowanVT

                  How about the local gaming club? Or a hiking group? Would you also be so incredibly horribly offended by them wearing their shirts? Are you offended by signs on the road saying “This section is sponsored by (group X)” thus indicating the people who volunteer to clean up the sides of the freeway?

                  That critical thunk you’re hearing? That is your argument falling flat in critical areas.

                • CriticalThunker

                  You’re comparing religious groups with a gaming and hiking club which are two totally different things. Unless, I suppose, said gaming club attacked another gaming club over their choice of games.

                  You are essentially an Evangelical Atheist, similar to Richard Dawkins, though seemingly without his ability to think from a different perspective. I get that. You want to spread your beliefs (or lack of) and want everyone to convert. Does this sound familar?

                  I’m not offended by road signs. It wasn’t their fault.

                • RowanVT

                  Reading comprehension is hard.

                  I’m talking about SHIRTS. The simple existence of a shirt saying “Gaming club” or “Hiking club” or “Atheist group” or “Church group”.

                  I am not seeking to deconvert anyone (again, reading comprehension is hard) nor am I seeking to spread my lack-of-belief. My old coworkers knew I was an atheist. Turns out quite a few of them were as well. Most of my family only recently found out I’m an atheist. I’m sure it came as a surprise to my grandparents and aunts and uncles.

                  And what the hell is with road signs and fault? See, there’s a local stretch of freeway that has a sign saying “This section of freeway is sponsored by (motorcycle club)”. Every couple weeks they are out there picking up trash, voluntarily. And there is a sign effectively *thanking them* for doing so.

                • CriticalThunker

                  You obviously missed my attempt at sarcasm with the road sign comment.

                • RowanVT

                  Behold the internet, where I can’t hear your tone and intent isn’t magic.

                • CriticalThunker

                  That’s a good line.

                  “I’m not offended by road signs. It wasn’t their fault.”

                  I find it hard to not see the sarcasm in that statement.

                • RowanVT

                  Because “it wasn’t their fault” makes absolutely *no* sense next to “I’m not offended by road signs”?

                  And if you’re not offended by such signs, why again are atheists in shirts meaniepoopyheads?

                • CriticalThunker

                  Reading comprehension is hard so let’s try this again.

                  Road signs do not offend me. The road signs (their) did not paint themselves with whatever statement they have on them.

                  Atheists in shirts aren’t “meaniepoopyheads” just like religious people in shirts aren’t. You still don’t get it. Look at it this way:
                  If someone setup an atheist soup kitchen and a bunch of Christians show up with their Christian t-shirts and want to help, what happens? The exact opposite of what happened here. Why? Because most atheists aren’t dicks.

                  The issue is that atheists know full well how touchy religious people can be and some of them like to take advantage of that.

                • RowanVT

                  How many secular soup kitchens do you know about?

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  I work with people who wear religious shirts all the time. It’s not offensive. As someone said, I just tend to get over it rather quickly.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Good for you.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I think being pushy with people is counter productive. But we all know that nothing will help non-beleivers in general get more respect than to be known as normal decent human beings, by believers. It’s much easier to malign what you don’t know.

                  It worked for LGBTs, it can work for us.

                • RowanVT

                  Agreed. And a t-shirt stating you’re from an atheist group is far from pushy.

                • CriticalThunker

                  It did work for LGBTs but it’s not the same. Atheism is the anti-religion while the subject of homosexuality is not. It’s far more acceptable for someone to be homosexual than it is for them to be an atheist.

                  The only way this will change is through education. Educate religion out of society without pushing for Atheism as an alternative and people are bound to make their own logical decisions. It is happening now.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Because there’s little difference between outright lying, and knowingly letting someone hold an incorrect belief about you.

              If she asked one of them which church they go to, what should they say?

              • CriticalThunker

                I’d hope they would answer honestly without being arrogant about it.

                • RowanVT

                  And then they’d have been kicked out.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Yeah I’d imagine they would have been. The point is, there’s no need to be confrontational. Unless that’s your thing I suppose.

                • RowanVT

                  There. Is. Nothing. Confrontational. About. The. Bloody. Shirts.

                  Nothing. At all.

                  Unless you think our mere *existence* is confrontational, which some believers behave as if they do. I’ve certainly got some relatives like that.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Wearing a shirt doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. Wearing a shirt with the sole purpose (remember, this is what I got out of the article and may or may not be accurate) of getting a reaction out of a religious group is confrontational.

                  We’ve obviously grown up in completely different situations. Luckily I have not lost too many close friends/family because of my lack of belief. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been difficult and I haven’t been treated differently. I just tend to get over it rather quickly.

                • RowanVT

                  You. Do. Not. KNOW. it was to get a reaction. You’ve judged them and declared it was, with absolutely no supporting evidence, and in fact some evidence to the contrary. They were willing to take the shirts off!

                  You’re not playing devil’s advocate, you’re just being a lazy ass at this point.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Missed this comment somehow. I believe I’ve provided a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why I feel this was purposeful. It’s up to you to take it how you will. Or you could just continue insulting me.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  No, you have not. You just kept saying it and assuming that was somehow evidence.

                  Oh, and rather bizarrely, making a “gut feeling” argument. Ugh.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  I just tend to get over it rather quickly.

                  Yes, you’re very tough.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Thanks!

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  And given this woman’s behavior, do you think she would be fine with the answer, or see it as evidence that atheists are deceptive?

                  It’s a tough fence I’m standing on in my real life right now. Someone I know who is a Christian assumes I must be as well. That person may, upon finding out I’m an atheist, make my life more difficult. But of course if I don’t tell them soon, it will just mean more deception which is worse. I’m just trying to figure out when my right to privacy intersects my obligation to be honest.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Who knows what this kook would have thought.

                  Have you ever ran into a situation with this person where your lack of religious beliefs has ever been a big deal? Christian or not, if they respect you then it won’t matter. If they can’t be around you because you’re an atheist then would you really want them as a friend anyways?

                  I’ve been an open atheist since I was about six after I told my fairly religious mother that I hated Sunday school and didn’t believe in God. Everyone I’ve ever known who has asked has gotten their answer. The rest can have their assumptions or not, I don’t care.

          • Guessed

            You don’t wear a Pepsi t-shirt to a Coca Cola promotion.

            • CriticalThunker

              Totally missed this comment. +1 to you sir/madam.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                As above: It’s a soup kitchen, not a church.

                • Guessed

                  Ok, you don’t wear a Pepsi t-shirt to a Coca Cola run soup kitchen.

                  (Especially because it’s entirely predictable that the “Coca Cola” of this analogy have a history of, generally, being dicks)

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  (Especially because it’s entirely predictable that the “Coca Cola” of this analogy have a history of, generally, being dicks)

                  I laughed loud enough to make people come ask me what was up.

                • Guessed

                  My work here is done.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              It’s a soup kitchen, not a church.

    • Matt D

      Wow.

      • CriticalThunker

        Yes?

        • Matt D

          No elaboration is necessary. I’d prefer you learn why I’m incredulous on your own, since people more articulate than I, will respond to your post.

          • CriticalThunker

            That’s pretty lame and does not add to the dialogue in any way.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              It adds quite a bit more than unsupported, prejudicial paranoia does.

              • CriticalThunker

                Responding to your one-liners is, most likely, pointless. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. What is this “prejudicial paranoia” you’re mentioning? I’m curious as to where in the hell that came from.

        • Bdole

          Oh yeah.

    • Richard Thomas

      Even if they WERE trying to generate a reaction, the Christians are only doing what they do so they can get into heaven. How is trying to make the world we live in a better place any worse than that? Why should only the humanists be required to hid their lights under bushels?

    • Gehennah

      Actually they were volunteering to try to make an impact. Groups that volunteer generally wear a t-shirt, I know my Mini Club does when we do volunteering work at soup kitchens.
      Then they even offered to take off their t-shirts so they can’t even be identified as Atheists at all.

      This isn’t them trying to get a reaction from Christians, this is Christians overreacting to people who were there to help others.

      • CriticalThunker

        It sounds like they knew full well the reaction they would get and went ahead and did it anyway.

        • RowanVT

          Because… offering to take off the shirts… is totally trying to get a reaction?

          Okay, that thunk is not just your argument falling flat but the sound of you desperately digging for any way to paint these atheists as stoopidmeaniepoopyheads.

          • CriticalThunker

            Mmmkay, you don’t seem to get it. Based on the article I firmly believe that they went there, with their atheist group shirts in full view, because they knew that the director was a hard core nut. I’m not surprised in the least that she had the reaction she did. The fact that they offered to take off their shirts has no bearing on this.

            • RowanVT

              How do you know they knew she was a hardcore nut? Please provide me the evidence for this assumption. Because you are working up to an entire ark of assumptions at the rate you are going.

              • CriticalThunker

                I don’t know and I can’t know for sure. I am simply responding based on how the article was written. If “it’s all about helping people, not about publicity, after all” then why the need for the shirts in the first place?

                • RowanVT

                  Why can’t things be both? What wrong with, as I have said several times, saying “We’re atheists and we’re here too, and we want to help too.”

                  You say you’re okay with educating… but are against this form of education. The education of the positive example. “Oh hey look, there’s atheists helping clean up after the flood. They’re actually a part of the community and helping out.”

                  Once again, we have had news articles about how you “never see atheists” helping out.

                  Please tell me, exactly, clearly, succinctly, how doing good deeds while wearing an atheist shirt, is bad.

                • CriticalThunker

                  Nothing, as long as that statement isn’t going to knowingly draw a reaction like this.

                  Doing good deeds while wearing an atheist shirt is bad when there in an ulterior motive (see Christians getting into heaven). The ulterior motive in this case, as I have also said repeatedly, was to get a reaction.

                • RowanVT

                  Which you have admitted you have NO proof for the assertion that it was to get a reaction. So why do you continue to assert it?

                • CriticalThunker

                  And where is the proof for your argument that this was not done to get a reaction?

                • RowanVT

                  I keep saying “or…” because… you know… maybe they didn’t do it to get a reaction? I’m playing devil’s advocate to yours… and I do at least have something that leans in my direction.

                  I have the fact that they *offered* to not wear the shirts while volunteering. This shows they were more interested in the actual volunteering part than getting a reaction. Otherwise it would have been “Well, how about this different shirt ((that still has atheist somewhere on it or expresses disbelief in gods))”. But no, it was ‘we won’t wear anything to identify us as atheists, if you’ll let us help.’

                • CriticalThunker

                  Annnnnd you still aren’t getting it. Responding to you is obviously a waste of time. Good day.

                • C.L. Honeycutt
                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  So your argument is that you are suspicious of them because you’re suspicious of them. Got it.

                • CriticalThunker

                  What is the point in your comment?

  • kimbo0825

    It’s another example of Christians behaving badly. I’m sorry. This is NOT how Christianity is supposed to be. It’s NOT what God is like at all. It’s embarrassing to us who follow Christ. Micah 6:8–He has shown you what is good: to do justly, love kindness and to walk humbly.

    • CriticalThunker

      I appreciate the sentiment but there is so much in the Bible that advocates for non-believes to be punished in some way. The passage you provided could be contradicted with many others taken from the same book.

      That being said, I can still appreciate a good person with reasonable feelings. Thank you.

  • Joseph George

    They seem to have deleted their facebook page, unless I’m missing something.

  • http://twitter.com/jimbolandjots jimbolandjots

    The Christians I have known live in mortal fear of pissing off their skygod, so their every action is meant to appease their god.

  • Guest

    Why not have an Atheist soup kitchen too?

    • ShoeUnited

      Donations are not as easy to get when you’ve got people like the lady above telling the community how your atheism will damn everyone’s souls.

      Also, there’s the part where secular non-profits find it harder to file for non-profit status, etc.

  • james rustler

    as a religious ministry, she probably didn’t want people to think the atheists represented whatever church they’re associated with. pretty understandable. she should have let them help behind the scenes without their shirts, not just outright refused their help.

  • brand0n

    As a Christian, from SC nonetheless, I am ashamed and sorry for this ladies action. I can see, but not agree with, her angle if they were only willing to help if they could wear the “team” shirts. I can’t believe she turned them away even after they said they’d wear normal clothes.

    These actions are not Christian and completely inappropriate. I am sure it doesn’t sit well but I just wanted to make it clear that not all Christians are this close minded. I respect all of you and wish you the best.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Hey, thank you.

  • John Secular Smith

    http://www.helpthekitchen.org/Volunteering.html

    “With only two paid part-time staff members (Director, Lou Landrum and Director’s Assistant, Ollie Smith), the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen is dependent on our volunteers…we couldn’t do it without them! We have more than 600 dedicated community volunteers.
    We also have many schools and groups that volunteer at the SSK on a regular basis. In addition, many local businesses volunteer to help out from time to time.”

    So, do they realize that in all likelihood some of the people volunteering with these non-religious organizations are *gasp* atheists?!??

    This isn’t about not liking atheists. This is about active demonization of atheists. They don’t care if atheists come and help, they just can’t do it as an organization, because then people would have to see them as being helpful instead of evil.

  • Chacounne

    As a Christian, let me assure you that Ms. Landrum does not speak for me, or for the congregation I am part of. Appalled at Ms. Landrum, Heather

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Thank you.

  • jimminie

    They had the chance to make the proper first impression. They knew they were going to a church to help the soup kitchen, but they went in with apparel pushing their agenda..

    First impressions are lasting ones.. they should have thought of that before going in.

  • Jay

    “Funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals.” – Joe Klein, June 2013

    Apparently, it’s because they’re not allowed.

  • John C

    We should show what turning the other cheek really means:

    HOW YOU CAN HELP:

    Donations to our Operations:

    Donations for daily operations can be mailed to:
    Spartanburg Soup Kitchen
    136 South Forest St.

    Spartanburg, SC 29306
    * Please designate “operations” on your check.

  • Rockobscurities

    I think we’re having some fun at this woman’s expense, and she certainly has demonstrated a remarkable and troubling intolerance towards atheists. But on the other hand, it also strikes me that the atheist group probably publicizes their volunteerism in order to promote atheism, or to at least promote the idea that atheists can be kind, compassionate, generous people, and for Ms Landrum to decide that she does not want her christian-ministry soup kitchen to be used as a vehicle for that message does make some sense. Even if nobody being served by an atheist volunteer that day is made aware that the volunteer is an atheist, the group would quite likely still use the event for publicity in some way later.

    Of course, her actions have now only magnified the attention brought to the atheists. In selecting her soup kitchen for this effort, they ultimately put her between a rock and a hard place, forcing her to call some attention to the group whether she accepted their offer or not.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

    Whatever else she may be, she is someone who is VERY insecure in her faith. My experiences with people like her ( to a lesser degree) always seem to show someone who feels they have to be extreme as some kind of display of “Faith” to prove to their god that they’re genuine. In other words, they have been damaged by religion to an extent that they make their own interpretations up to rationalise & excuse their failure to understand what they claim to believe.

  • JND

    It’s of course en vogue to say “silly, small-minded Christians, ha ha”, but this is a somewhat skewed version of the events. It appears as though the group wanted to volunteer wearing their atheist society t-shirts, at an obviously Christian soup kitchen. When they were told they couldn’t, they suggested coming without them and I guess the director was wary of their motives at that point.

    Also, when they were rejected, they decided to set up right across the street, seemingly for no other reason than to throw it back in the soup kitchen’s face. Of course this garnered much publicity for their society. Additionally, the location and publicity have seemingly served no purpose except to discredit an organization that has done great work in the community for years and years and to paint all of Christianity with a broad and inaccurate brush.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Additionally, the location and publicity have seemingly served no purpose except to discredit an organization that has done great work in the community for years and years and to paint all of Christianity with a broad and inaccurate brush.

      I would say the relative public opinion gained by each organization is a direct reflection on what each organization did. “You reap what you sow”. Anyone who doesn’t want to come off as a jerk should stop acting like a jerk. And if this helps bring awareness to an organization, Christian or atheist, trying to help people, that sounds like a pretty good purpose to me.

    • Carmelita Spats

      The obviously Christian soup kitchen should then specify who is NOT allowed to help them feed the hungry. The list is probably MILES LONG and it includes not only atheists but homosexuals, fake Christians and those Mary-worshiping rosary rattlers. Christian bigotry SHOULD be spelled out, hyper-codified, and so specific in its details that no one makes the terrible mistake of saying, “I just wanted to help.” Motives? You mean the atheists had a nefarious agenda such as pointing out gut-busting hilarious biblical absurdities while serving up a dollop of grotesque bible verses that sanction genocide, child murder, slavery and rape alongside the usual cream of mushroom soup? The organization should be discredited as it has proven itself to be the moral equivalent of the Catholic Church when it disallows same-sex couples from adopting children and makes its bigotry known to the entire planet by shutting down Catholic Charities rather than abide by the rule of law. If you don’t want to be criticized for your embarrassingly bigoted beliefs, don’t have embarrassingly bigoted beliefs. Religion=stupid superstition.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      She may have been wary of their motives, but her own statements show that she despised them for what they were, and that is what informed her mistrust. She made up stories about them to rationalize prejudice.

      Argh, of COURSE they set up across the street. That’s where all the homeless people were going to be.


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