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).
This is How the Upstate Atheists Bounced Back After Being Banned from Volunteering at a Christian Soup Kitchen
Earlier this year, the Upstate Atheists from Spartanburg, South Carolina attempted to volunteer at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen. Unfortunately, its director Lou Landrum denied their offer, saying atheists weren’t welcome there. Landrum took things even further last week when she told the Spartanburg Herald Journal that allowing atheists to help in her kitchen would be a “disservice to this community.”
… 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.“
Despite the setback, the atheists pulled through for the people they were trying to help. On Saturday, they gave away over 300 care packages to the homeless, each package costing about $15 and including things like gloves, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, lip balm, snacks, etc.
Landrum had said “They can have the devil there with them, but they better not come across the street.” I don’t see the devil in any of those pictures. Just kind, wonderful, godless people trying to help the people around them.
I also don’t see a “No Christians Allowed” sign.
And this is just the beginning.
Last weekend, self-described “militant atheist” James Maxie went to church with his girlfriend and ended up severely beating the pastor, Rev. Norman Hayes, after Hayes asked his girlfriend if she felt safe with him:
As I wrote earlier this week, Pastor Hayes did nothing to deserve the violent attack on him, while Maxie deserves whatever punishment he has coming his way.
It’s also worth noting that Maxie’s atheism was pretty incidental to this whole story. He didn’t beat up the pastor because he was a pastor; Maxie did it because he was provoked by someone and he had a short fuse. (Maxie once spent two years in jail on an assault conviction, by the way.) I’m not excusing him from his actions, only pointing out that religion wasn’t the primary cause for this attack.
But a headline reading “Criminal Commits a Crime” wouldn’t be very interesting… so the “militant atheist” phrase was used in every story I saw about the assault (and I feel justified in using it for that very reason).
That’s what worries me. I don’t want this particular incident to affect the atheist community at large because some Christians may argue that Maxie, despite being an anomaly, somehow “proves” that godless people are immoral or violent. We know the reality is far from that, but many others in our society don’t.
I reached out to Pastor Hayes (and a local reporter) earlier this week to see if there was anything we could do for him, but I didn’t hear back… until today.