After the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen in Spartanburg, S.C., turned atheists away last spring when non-believers approached the group and offered to help feed the poor, secularists are hitting back with an outreach plan of their own.
Upstate Atheists, a local cohort of non-believers, said that they were just trying to help and that the ban truly surprised them. And activist Hemant Mehta, a well-known secular blogger, was so stunned that he quipped that "Jesus would be so pissed off" as a result of the decision.
Despite the group's promise not to market their non-belief while helping the soup kitchen, they claim they were turned away.
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"I told them we wouldn't wear our T-shirts. We wouldn't tell anyone who we are with," Upstate Atheists President Eve Brannon told The Spartanburg Herald Journal. "We just want to help out. And they told us that we were not allowed."
The soup kitchen's executive director, Lou Landrum, reiterated and defended the decision in an interview with the Journal.
Doubling down, she reportedly said she'd rather resign before allowing non-believers to volunteer with the Christian group.
"This is a ministry to serve God. We stand on the principles of God. Do they think that our guests are so ignorant that they don't know what an atheist is?" she said. "Why are they targeting us? They don't give any money. I wouldn't want their money."
Brannon and her group are planning to hit back at the denial by handing out care packages for the homeless this Saturday right across the street from Spartanburg Soup Kitchen. These packs will include tooth brushes, antiseptic wipes, soap, snacks and other essentials.
Landrum has few kind words about the atheists' response.
"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," she told the Journal.
Spartanburg Soup Kitchen is currently open to volunteers and even has a section of its website devoted to recruitment. Atheists are not explicitly mentioned in it.
Brannon claims the soup kitchen is the first local group to deny them the opportunity to help out.
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(H/T: Spartanburg Herald Journal)