An Update on the Pastor Who Was Beaten Up by a ‘Militant Atheist’

If you need to catch up on the story, please read this and this.

In the past week, readers of this site have really come through for Pastor Norman Hayes after he was beaten up by a “Militant Atheist” (who would arguably be better described as a thug with a criminal past).

You all pitched in thousands of dollars to Hayes’ recovery fund, which is currently over $5,000. His son Andy wrote this note to supporters last night:

My dad just wanted to say thank you all for your donations. It means a lot and it means less stress for him in this time of recovery. We have been made aware that there will be some other financial gifts to my dad through other channels so we are lowering the goal for this fund vs applying those gifts to the previous goal.

There have been many responses from the Friendly Atheist post, my dad just wanted to say thanks and that it means a lot. This isn’t about theology, it’s about humanity and how we treat each other.

That’s humbling and amazing. Thank you all for showing everyone that we won’t stand for this sort of violence done in association with our beliefs.

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.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Yup, atheists helping out, of course.

    Funny how you don’t see New York Time’s Joe Klein helping out with this guy in need.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Funny how you never see catch Joke Line clicking the downvote button.

      Edit: I had never even heard him called “Joke Line” before his meme-inducing rubbish, and now I think of him that way automatically.

  • edgar ayala


  • bhanu korremula

    Voilence should have no place in the society. Good to see people coming together to help him out.

  • Charles M Taylor

    I wonder what the soup kitchen lady in South Carolina would have to say about this.

    • Artor

      Funny, you don’t see Joe Klein donating to the recovery fund either.

      Dammit. Someone already dropped that line a few comments down. I guess it was pretty obvious.

      • Richard Wade

        Long live The Joe Klein Meme!

        • NG

          Funny how you now see the Joe Klein memes being downvoted once. Makes it look like he’s found and out and the only one downvoting them.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Nah, it’d be one of his interns. He’s far too busy sneaking back onto Time and putting out articles with comments disabled because he knows what will happen “working on his book”.

            Funny how you never SEE Joe Klein working on his book.

          • Richard Wade

            I’ve noticed that and wondered about that too.

        • Artor

          Funny how you never see Joe Klein making dumb Joe Klein jokes.

  • ShhhImReading

    I donated. I don’t want one asshole to represent us. I give to charity regularly, but it is typically to Planned Parenthood and animal rescue organizations (ASPCA, etc.), because those are causes I believe in. But I believe in this one, too. I do not think it is right to physically attack people who are not physically attacking me first. I vote with my dollar, I put my money where my mouth is, and I stand up for The Right Thing (TM). My morality comes to me from my life experience, not from an ancient work of folklore. And my “unchecked” morality says it’s wrong to harm innocent people. Plain and simple. So when “one of ours” does something contrary to this morality (which I think most of us share), I will stand up and do what I can to help right that wrong.

    • Adam Goodhall

      I don’t understand this, it speaks well of you, but I don’t understand the notion of “one of us”. The only thing we share with this guy for sure is that we have the same answer to a particular question on belief. Atheism isn’t an ideology. If the story was “Pastor assaulted by bearded man” I wouldn’t feel compelled to do anything just because I share a stance with him on facial hair. Nor would I think it reflected upon the bearded men of this world.

      • ShhhImReading

        Which is precisely why I put quotes around it. It’s not my idea, it’s the idea that others have of atheists. Many religious non-atheists think of us as having a concrete “faith” or ideology. We don’t, and that’s sort of the point (but we’re not trying to make a point, necessarily…). I wanted to convey the opinions of others about atheists, mostly because many of them will likely say, “Oh, you know how those atheists are!” I donated specifically to distance myself from that man, and I thought the quotation marks did as good a job as any bit of punctuation could have done to convey it.

        • Adam Goodhall

          I see. My apologies then, I misunderstood.

  • ShoeUnited

    I’m glad he took the positive aspects and I hope he feels better soon.

  • Tobias 27772

    I thought it was kind of nice that the preacher’s son phrased his thank you in terms of humanity. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Dan Weeks

    Violence is the tool of the enemy. It’s what people who cannot adequately defend or articulate their views use to impose them onto others. As rationalists and humanists, we must always stand against this. Thank you, Hemant, for your efforts on this front!

  • infidel1000

    $25000? Ridiculous. I know someone who had similar injuries a couple of months ago-even worse, incurred the same way. The total bill, including the er, doctor, and ambulance didn’t exceed $3500. And the perp? He’ll get a bible and a divinity degree and a cross tattoo on his forehead before 90 days is out. Big deal. Lots of good people getting screwed a lot worse than this guy and getting no help. If he’s destitute, they won’t jail him for the debt.

    • 3lemenope

      $25000? Ridiculous. I know someone anecdote anecdote anecdote and everything in the world works just like it did with my friend. Garnished with a side of I don’t like this victim, let’s find someone else I do.


      • Fentwin

        I was told once that “the plural of anecdote is not data”. I wish a few more people (e.g. infidel1000) understood this simple idea.

        • infidel1000

          Gullible people like you buy every sob story there is. Your type could be fed reams of data but you would simply deny it. I told a true story. On the other hand, you moan about anybody who doesn’t agree with you. Grow up and get a life. I’m not wasting my time digging up data for slugs ilke you.

          • allein

            A single “true story” is still an anecdote.

          • Fentwin

            And yet you’re still confusing “true stories” with “reams of data”.

            • infidel1000

              So what do you want, documentation? For this two-bit conversation? You people are too full of yourselves. Go pound sand.

      • infidel1000

        Wow. Touchy, aren’t we?

        • 3lemenope

          Not really, no.

    • skeptical_inquirer

      Hospital bills vary widely. I once went in the emergency room with bronchitis and even with insurance, it was over $600 out of pocket and I read how much it would’ve really cost w/o insurance and it was several thousand dollars.

      Of course, I think we should have a single payer system in the US but that’s another issue entirely.

      • infidel1000

        Apparently, your insurance sucks.

        • skeptical_inquirer

          I think most people’s insurance sucks.

    • NG

      In May, Kathleen Sebelius (liked her much better as Kansas governor rather than at Health & Human Services…) spoke about data released by the federal government showing hospital bills in the US vary wildly even within the same city for the same treatments and services. I saw a news segment recently about it, too (can’t remember where exactly, probably when I was visiting Grandma.) So at the hospital where the pastor received treatment, it may very well cost this much, plus all of the other associated costs, not just the hospital bill.

      @3lemenope:disqus , I hate anecdotes too, especially at work.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I’ve had far milder injuries (edit: on the surface) that cost far more than $3500, and I didn’t even get an ambulance ride. My anecdote negates your anecdote.

      Keep in mind that you have no idea what internal examinations he’s had and has reason to expect he might have to have. Nobody here is a doctor from Krypton.

      • infidel1000

        How much money did George Zimmerman pocket from the radicals who funded his defense fund? Anybody who gets this kind of notoriety can make a fortune that way. Will he return the excess? I doubt it.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          How much money did George Zimmerman pocket from the radicals who funded his defense fund?

          After lawyers’ fees, special accomodations, special security, court expenses, and other living fees, Zimmerman’s “profit” was approximately zero dollars and zero cents.

          • infidel1000

            So he spent it. He bought his freedom with it. That’s something to show for it. Not chopped liver.

      • infidel1000


        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Good job admitting that your arguments are rubbish by being a wittle pissums about them.

          • infidel1000

            I’m ending this conversation. I refuse to argue with such childishness. Go ahead and have the last word if you must, Honeycutt.

    • Randay

      I saw one of those real crime shows and it was the story of the first woman prison guard murdered in the function of her duties in 1981, Donna Payant. She was killed by a prisoner who, despite a negative psychiatric evaluation, was given special privileges working for the prison chaplain. He killed her in the prison chapel. With a quick look, I found a second case involving guard Jayme Biendi who was also murdered in the prison chapel.

      Apparently it would be a good idea for the “militant atheist” to convert quickly.

    • Bruce L Arvidson II

      The cost of an uninsured person is sky rocketing. I should know, every time I have been uninsured I have had to go to the hospital. A simple 3 day stay has cost me over 100K$. I can not pay any of it. I figure with this last trip to the hospital, which I was there for almost 3 weeks, will cost me in the range of 300K$. Don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you..An Ambulance ride costs almost 1 grand, without insurance, because it is not just the ride they charge you for, they include all the medicine, man hours, mileage, and gas cost to the bill. 25K will be spent just by being in the hospital for 3 days. Same reason as the ambulance ride. But now you have to pay a doctor’s fee too. Now if you have to have major surgery, that is where the bill grows to where it is not right.

      So to try and state, you know someone that had the same injury, is ridiculous. You left out one important thing in your claim, did your acquaintance have medical insurance or not? Because for it to ONLY cost 3500, sure does sound like he/she had insurance.

      • infidel1000

        Can you read? I said,”The total bill, including the er, doctor, and ambulance didn’t exceed $3500″. And no. No insurance.

  • FlyingFree333

    So you are all so desperate for good press you pay a raving bigot for the opportunity to kiss his ass in public. Bunch of simpering, groveling cowards. You can condemn the violence AND condemn the bigot to incited it. This is a perfect example of why I’m not a member of any atheist organizations, nothing but boot licking whiners.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      So you are all so desperate for good press you pay a raving bigot for
      the opportunity to kiss his ass in public. Bunch of simpering, groveling
      cowards. You can condemn the violence AND condemn the bigot to incited
      it. This is a perfect example of why I’m not a member of any atheist
      organizations, nothing but boot licking whiners.

      The above is a perfect example that atheism alone does not make a person smart enough to finish reading articles before being an asshole about them.

  • Troy Heisenberg Goulding

    $25000 wow. So glad I live in Canada.

  • Rich Rodgers

    I still can’t get on board with this. Too many things I find would be far more worth the while.I’m not going to say you’re wrong if this really speaks to you, but it strikes me as trying to buy someone’s opinion of me. If I was more moved by the story, I may try to find out why he didn’t have insurance. I work with medical billing and realize he’ll pay tenfold what insured folks will, but that kind of money only makes sense if he’s hospitalized, or has… who knows, it’s speculation. odds are, it’s far too much, but it could be too little. It really sucks this happened. But I don’t feel responsible, and there are other acts of charity that seem more worthy. I’ve certainly been wrong before, though. If it were just a random act of being decent to each other, I’m down with that. But this seems like it’s something else that I don’t understand.

    • allein

      I agree…I don’t feel responsible, this guy doesn’t represent me in any way, and I don’t feel the need to “make amends” on behalf of “atheists”…at the same time, if it’s something that speaks to others and they want to donate, then that’s fine, too. (I can’t comment on the medical bills…I’ve been in the emergency room twice, once involving x-rays and whatever else after a car accident, but my insurance covered pretty much all of it so I don’t even know what the real cost was.)

  • Brian Daugherty

    Just because I think religion is bullshit doesn’t mean I don’t care about my fellow man. No one should be treated like this and I wish him a speedy recovery.

  • raerants

    “This isn’t about theology, it’s about humanity and how we treat each other.”

    He gets it. Good for him.

  • Scott Marshall

    The story seems to be that Maxie’s girlfriend took him to church to try to convert him to Christianity, and when the pastor tried to sabotage their relationship, Maxie beat the crap out of him. That’s my take after reading several articles on this.

    • David Kopp

      Or perhaps the pastor recognized a violent, abusive person and said something about it, then the man became violent. If that’s your definition of “sabotage”, I’d gladly do it for someone that I thought was in danger.

      • Scott Marshall

        David, I’m not excusing the perpetrator. I’m observing it was not a beating motivated by atheist hate for a Christian, as the headline implies. It’s about a pastor stupid enough to hint the girl should dump a violent person right in front of the violent person.

  • Q. Quine

    Well done, Hemant.

  • atthewall

    The man was NOT an atheist. He went to the church to try to reconnect with God, he was a “fallen believer”, hardly an atheist.

  • Peter Packiam

    Hemant your the Man…Cheers

  • Dave

    Why is the perpetrator described as a militant atheist and not a fallen christian?

    • Richard Wade

      My guess would be three reasons:
      1. He is reported to have described himself as a “militant atheist” on his Facebook site.
      2. “Militant atheist” makes atheists look bad and appeals to Fox News-type readers, while “fallen Christian” implies a possible failing of Christians or Christianity and so does not appeal to Fox News-type readers.
      3. “Fallen Christian” is a conclusion that would require thinking more carefully about the details in Mr. Maxie’s story.

  • erikcampano


  • Susan Ruffaner Gahagan

    I’m just wondering if anyone can share an example of good, church-going Christians ever donating money to help someone assaulted in the Lord’s name. Like, say, an atheist, homosexual, or any other supposed sinner. Hmmm. Can’t think of any. Can you?

    • Pastor Jill

      Acually, Susan, it happens all the time. Problem is that we left-leaning, progressive, liberal (Choose a label) Christians are one of those inconvenient truths for both the fundamentalist Christian and the angriest wing of athiests so we don’t get much press. In my circles we still remember and honor Matthew Shepard and seek justice for all. This one isn’t about a fundraiser, but see the attached link.

  • the moother

    If Pastor Norm is truly a man of god he would be donating everything to charity. He’s a charlatan. Rather give your money to people with genuine needs.