After a public war of words with eBay, the popular bidding company, a South Carolina atheist who tried but failed to auction off her attendance at church to the highest bidder has officially attended service at a local house of worship -- and she says she "couldn't have asked for a better experience."
Eve Brannon, president of Upstate Atheists, a secular charity group, told The Christian Post that she visited Inman United Methodist Church in Inman, S.C., last weekend after the house of worship donated an undisclosed amount of money to the atheist organization -- funding that will he used to help the poor and homeless.
Image source: Shutterstock.com
Brannon, who grew up in a Christian home but who later renounced the faith and hasn't been to church in years, described the experience as a positive one.
"Everyone was kind and welcoming. The sermon was honest and interesting ... We were treated like family, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience," she told The Christian Post.
Another member of Upstate Atheists identified only as "Kyle" accompanied Brannon to the church, where the two answered questions during a Sunday school class from the faithful.
Kyle, too, spoke positively of the experience, noting that the church made him and Brannon feel welcome and that its members showed "open-mindedness and respect."
As TheBlaze previously reported, a debate unfolded last month after Brannon posted a quirky offer on New Year’s Eve titled “Take an Atheist Leader to Church.”
Inviting church leaders to very literally bid on her time, she attempted to auction off her attendance at a church service and pledged to donate the monies earned to a charity devoted to helping the homeless.
“Your bid is for me and my 4-year-old daughter. She must be able to stay with me at all times. We will attend any church on a Sunday morning,” the ad read, in part. “We will listen to the sermon and I agree to be acknowledged as a guest. I will speak to members of the congregation if you wish and what led me to the path I chose.”
The message was initially placed under eBay’s “Everything Else > Weird Stuff > Slightly Unusual” section, The Huffington Post reported.
Despite following the website’s parameters for posting, Brannon told TheBlaze that the ad was repeatedly removed.
“I received an email stating that I broke a policy. I had to change the ad to take out that the money was going to charity,” she explained. “I revised the ad and removed the part that spoke about where the funds would be going. I got another email saying it was breaking the policy.”
Again, it was removed. And this time, Brannon said something interesting happened.
“Instead of showing the typical ‘item has been removed’ page, the link I was using to share the ad was being redirected to very specific search results for a Christian Rock CD,” she explained.
Attempting to get to the bottom of why the removals kept happening, she spoke with an eBay employee who told her to move the ad to the “Services” category and, after she made some tweaks, he reportedly told her it looked good.
Problem solved — or so she thought. Again, the ad was removed.
A screenshot of the ad that was placed on eBay (Image source: WHNS-TV)
“All that they’ve said is that it’s an accident, but it happened three times so it’s not very believable,” Brannon said. “We were raising money to provide heat and water to a homeless community.”
In an email statement to TheBlaze, eBay said that the removal was accidental and apologized.
“eBay has outlined clear polices for our sellers and works vigilantly to ensure responsible use of our marketplace. In situations when unusual or high-profile listings come to our attention, we review them to ensure they comply with policies and work with sellers to list them appropriately,” the statement read. “When a listing is erroneously removed in this process, we work just as hard to make amends and restore the listing in a timely manner.”
It continued, “In this case, the listing was removed in error. We apologize for the inconvenience and have offered assistance to the seller to relist.”
Inman United Methodist Church had placed bids on eBay and after Brannon decided not to relist, the church reached out to her to setup the visit.
(H/T: Christian Post)