So this story has been making it’s rounds. The atheist group upstate atheists tried to volunteer at a soup kitchen run by a church. They were turned down, the director saying she would resign for her job before she let atheists volunteer.
Now, I’ll first say that they are totally within their rights to do this. Since the soup kitchen is apparently run by a church they have the right to discriminate based on religious grounds they way a secular relief group would not. If they don’t want to allow atheists in their group they have that right, I would, in fact, defend their rights to do so on purely legal grounds.
On the other hand I won’t mince words at all when I say that I think to behave in this way is incredibly mean and short sighted. It makes it appear that they are more worried about their image, and about their ability to use the soup kitchen as a means to convert people than they are worried about feeding hungry people. I also find it bizarre given that Christians so often like to opine that atheists don’t do things to help the less fortunate, but then a group trying to do that very thing is turned away. It does seem a little like a self fulfilling prophecy. Though, for my part, I would be a little sketchy about donating time or money to Christian relief organizations precisely because I wouldn’t want work or money to benefit their ideological goals.