Christians defend the Kansas City Rescue Mission.

I wasn’t going to write anything today, then the magic happened.  The Kansas City Star quoted my blog about the Kansas City Rescue Mission in an article.

The atheist group has taken offense at the rebuff, but a local rescue mission defends its position.

“We are an unapologetically Christian organization, and we always have been,” said Julie Larocco, development officer for the Kansas City Rescue Mission. “We want to share the message with the people we serve that ‘God loves you, and you are not alone.’ It seemed to us that this (atheist) group probably would not want to deliver those meals.”

Oh, they want to deliver the meals.  But the KCRM never game them the option.  Atheist groups very much want to feed to hungry, which I thought was a point of happy common ground between the two groups.  Working together, absent any other ideological interest, we can do more for the needy.  That’s all the atheists wanted: was to work together to make the world a better place.  This seems ideal to me.

But apparently this is not ideal to the KCRM.  They decided that,  unlike the atheists who simply want to help the poor and, to my knowledge, have never attempted to de-convert anybody in their past years of volunteering, that charity should not be a matter of pure altruism but should instead be an avenue to proselytize.  Imagine an atheist-run charity that wanted to include the message that god didn’t exist with every charitable act, and turned away help from religious people.  Nobody in their right mind could say the atheists were prioritizing a better world, or that they wanted to work with others to create a better world.  The same conclusion should be reached about the Christians.  What’s more, it’s hard to imagine such a hypothetical atheist charity…but it’s easy, very easy, to imagine Christians behaving this way – all while boasting of how Christianity makes people more charitable.

And what a sham method to proselytize it is!  The god who created a world of limited resources, who could feed you and give you every comfort without the slightest exertion of effort, hasn’t done it.  He’s watched you go hungry and only in the presence of god’s disinterest could our charity even exist…but god loves you.  Gag me.  God obviously doesn’t give a shit, but people do.  People love and people care.  And they want to do everything they can to maximize the alleviation of suffering…until it comes to defending the ambivalent god’s image, then it’s worth a dip in efficiency.  Hey, as long as they can catch people at their most vulnerable, which has always been a huge fact of evangelism.

A more honest message in the meals would read “Hey, sorry god isn’t doing anything.  But we love you.”  That would at least be honest…or even better: “Hey, sorry god isn’t doing anything.  But we love you slightly less than we love telling you how great that god is – otherwise we’d maximize our effectiveness at the expense of this message.”

Larocco confirmed that the mission decided to include a religious message with every food box and single-serving meal this year.

J.T. Eberhard, a former volunteer with the Atheist Coalition, wrote Sunday on the website patheos.com that “including messages of god’s love with a meal to the poor is ironic in the extreme. If god cared about them at least as much as the (Atheist Coalition) volunteers, there would be no need for dispensing meals to the needy — god would’ve taken care of it.”

Eberhard also contended that the mission was hindering its own efforts by turning away volunteers.

But Larocco said there will be plenty of help to provide about 2,400 Thanksgiving meals.

“Christmas and Thanksgiving are prime times for volunteers,” she said. “We get hundreds of people wanting to volunteer, and we have to say no. They (the atheists) have volunteered for two years in a row, for which we are so grateful, and we really like them and welcome them to come back to volunteer anytime they would like on other projects.

“But we really want to give other people an opportunity,” Larocco said.

Hrm, I don’t have access to their books, so I can’t rebuff this with absolute certainty.  However, last year some of the atheist people stayed longer and made multiple trips (in their own vehicles with their own fuel) in order to get all the meals out.  Maybe they have more volunteers this year.

What I really don’t’ buy is the idea that this is about giving other people an opportunity to volunteer.  It’s about using charity as a means to proselytize, as opposed to an expression of altruism, and obviously so.

And if a group doing charity with the ulterior motive of evangelizing wasn’t enough to leave a bitter taste in your mouth toward Christianity, there are plenty of Christians in the comments of the article doing everything they can to announce the hollowness of the faith.  Let’s start with Marcie Cottrell:

This stinks to high heaven (pun intended). There is clearly no intent to help or serve the needy on the part of the anti-theisists, only a desire to place a Christian group in a no win situation.

Yes, that’s why the atheists have helped the last two years without so much as a peep until they were told their help, which was offered with no interest in ideological warfare, was refused so that the Christians could use their charitable efforts to evangelize.  Why is it the atheists who are accused of ulterior motives when it’s clearly the KCRM wanting to use the charity for other purposes?

The placing of “religious messages” with every box of food is the right and privilege of the KC Rescue mission.

Nobody is arguing otherwise.  What the KCRM cannot do though, is honestly claim that feeding the more with maximum efficiency is their top priority – clearly it isn’t.

What the recipient does with that message is their choice including ignoring it altogether. Where is the tolerance that the secular Left demands of everybody else?

What you call tolerance equates to shutting up when a Christian group does something lame.  We tolerate the KCRM’s right to operate their charity however they please, even if they use it as an avenue to proselytize.  Tolerance does not mean giving silent consent to lousy decisions.

May the Lord use this stupidness as a way to bless both the needy and the KC Rescue Mission.

The same lord that sees the needy suffering and can’t be bothered to do anything, creating the need for humans to step up?  Right, I’m sure after being unmoved by the suffering of billions of people the world over (suffering he designed into existence) for the entire sum of human existence that some atheists being disgusted at the use of charity as an evangelizing tool will be what really motivates god to act.

And just in case some indignant Christians decide to show those uppity atheists by donating money to the KCRM, before people like Marcie start praising the lord for stepping up I think it needs to be said that god, again, would not have stepped up.  No, that was people – people who believe in god, but people none the less.  And, frankly, it makes me ill to see people glorifying a god who insists that human beings are worthless without him even with actions catalyzed by their own empathy – empathy their god clearly lacks.  People are great, and they can do a tremendous deal of good in the world (when they’re not turning away volunteers or giving away bibles instead of food on account of their faith).

Then there’s this gem from Carl Walston:

Mr. Eberhard says “If god (sic) cared about them…, there would be no need for dispensing meals to the needy – god (sic) would’ve taken care of it.” What Mr. Eberhard does not understand is that God is taking care of helping feed the needy through the KC Rescue Mission.

Oh, he just can’t stand those lower-case G’s.

First, by this logic god is working through the Ku Klux Klan to spread racism and violence.  What’s that?  The KKK is just human beings acting on their own volition?  Ok then, why is it that god is working through the KCRM and not the KKK, if people can work without god’s influence?

Second, how insulting to the volunteers who are doing the charity work.  This implies that without god subverting their free will, these people wouldn’t be doing the charity work because they care.  Nope, they need god putting the cosmic cattle prod to them.

Third, even if I granted that mind-boggingly stupid premise, why is all-knowing and all-powerful god using such an inefficient system?  God could feed all the starving people with a wave of his hand, but he doesn’t.  21,000 people die of starvation every day, and god watches with indifference.  But this god, who conceived of hunger and arranged it so that people would starve, decides that some people (though certainly not most of those starving) should be fed and, rather than materializing food in front of them (which would obviously be a god’s work), he motivates people to feed the poor (so they can include messages about how great this god is) in exactly the way charity would look in a godless universe.  This sounds beyond implausible to me.

This is yet another instance of a Christian pointing to something, anything, and without any evidence at all saying “god is responsible for that.”  No, people are responsible for helping the poor, and obviously so.  It is not deep to say “god did it”.  In fact, absent any evidence to support that, and when other forces (like human empathy) are in place, it is both foolish in the extreme and demeaning to the people involved.  But it’s very, very Christian.

Moving on to Lonny Wright:

The Christian Mission is right to keep their Christian message, “Christian’s serving others”.
It conflicts with their Christian mission message, to have those opposed to their message, delivering the message.
The Mission deserves to get the best value possible from their volunteer efforts.

Nobody is saying the KCRM doesn’t have the right to exclude volunteers so they can instead evangelize.  We’re saying it’s needlessly exclusionary and silly.

Yes, it conflicts with the Christian message to have atheists deliver the message…but not the meals.  That’s why we’re put out that the KCRM prioritized the delivery of the message over the delivery of the meals.

And if the best value, in Christian terms, is losing their largest contingent of volunteers for the value of telling people the god who helps them less than the atheists the last two year loves them, then I don’t see how anybody can make the claim that Christianity augments charity.  Seems Lonny is making an assertion that it’s the other way around.

Thankfully, KCAC is looking into other places they can volunteer, where it’s all about helping the needy regardless of faith or creed.  If you ever wonder why religion is on the decline while atheism is on a steep ascension, this is it.