Spartanburg Soup Kitchen turns away atheist volunteers | GoUpstate.com
Do you think that the soup kitchen was in the right to turn away volunteers from an atheist group? (Note: I'm not really talking about whether they have the legal right - I have no idea if there are discrimination laws surrounding the opportunity to volunteer. We can talk about that too if someone knows, but I'm more talking about: morally and rationally, were they in the right.)A group of Upstate atheists plans to hand out care packages downtown this weekend after the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen wouldn't let them volunteer.
On Saturday, about 10 people are expected to gather across from the soup kitchen and hand out care packages to the homeless. The 300 packages contain socks, gloves, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, soap, rain ponchos, snacks, shaving razors, antiseptic wipes, deodorants, tissues and gum.
"I hope we can provide a package for everyone who needs one," said Eve Brannon, president of Upstate Atheists, a group started in 2011 that includes about 200 members. "Whatever we have left, we will donate to a homeless shelter in the Upstate."
Brannon, 25, said they decided to hand out care packages to the homeless after being told they could not volunteer at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen.
"I told them we wouldn't wear our T-shirts. We wouldn't tell anyone who we are with. We just want to help out," Brannon said. "And they told us that we were not allowed."
According to the Soup Kitchen's website, the organization is dependent upon volunteers, having more than 600 community volunteers with a mission to serve the hungry in Spartanburg.
Lou 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."
Brannon said the group has worked with Christian nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity, in the past.
"We can all work together to achieve something positive regardless of religion or lack thereof," she said. "We've raised money for March of Dimes, worked with the Generous Garden Project, done community park clean ups, adopted a highway, and sponsored local foster children for Christmas."
She said the group is used to its share of animosity within the community, but the exchange with the Soup Kitchen was unlike anything she had experienced.
"They are the only group that denied us the opportunity to volunteer," Brannon said.
Landrum said she does not have a problem with the group setting up across the street.
"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.
The Upstate Atheists will be handing out care packages between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. or until all of the packages are gone.
Last edited by Alissa_Sal; 10-31-2013 at 12:22 PM.
Wow. Seems a little extreme to me. I mean what do they think is going to happen the Atheists are going to tell everyone that there is no God as they walk through the line? I would welcome a chance to work with either Atheists or people of other faiths because it is through those kinds of friendships that you find common ground and possibly open the door to teach them the truth.
Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
Stepmom to Ryan, Regan, Braden, Baley
Granddaughters Kylie 10/18/2010 & Aleya 4/22/2013
I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson
Gloria - That is kind of what I was thinking too. Atheists that are willing to enter into a religious organization and volunteer there are not going to be the stereotypical frothing-at-the-mouth-anti-theists that I think some religious people picture when they picture atheists. Don't get me wrong, those atheists are out there too, but I doubt these are them. Atheists intentionally entering a religious soup kitchen are probably the more mild "I don't believe, but I'm okay if you do" variety. I would think that Christians would welcome an opportunity to form friendships with them, partially in the hopes of being able to talk to them about religion (also just to be friends in general too )
I also think it's doing a disservice to the homeless community in that town to turn away anyone that wants to help.
As a christian this kind of thing makes me really mad. I think any opportunity to stand next to others, while serving those that need the most help, should be done regardless of the beliefs of the others you are standing with. Christians that are unwilling to serve with others give the rest of us a bad name.
If the atheist group wanted to speak to their beliefs I could understand not inviting them in, but that could have been easily addressed. If I were closer I could go down and stand with the atheist group
Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson
I love the irony in the comment "They can have the devil there with them, but they better not come across the street". Fairly certain Satan is a Christian bad guy. I'm pretty certain atheists aren't too worried about the devil showing up and crashing their party. This guy kind of talks like the Church Lady.
I think Lou has a stick up her rear end.
Mom to Elizabeth (5) and Corinne (3)
I mean, Gloria, RG and I all consider ourselves Christians but I don't want to her what you both consider truths and I know you don't want to hear mine.
Why can't everyone just work together and leave the personal stuff out of it?
Mom to Elizabeth (5) and Corinne (3)
I'm not religious at all. I don't need to flaunt this and that and try to teach people anything because I'm actually confident in my decision. Even if I was the only person like this, I still wouldn't be compelled to "teach" people in order to gain followers or more people on board to feel better about myself. The whole "teaching people the "truth"" made me eye roll so hard I may have optic nerve damage. Blech.