When I came across this news report from GoUpstate.com I assumed at first that the atheists must have been somehow provocative and had engineered this situation for the publicity. But no. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. What we have here is an incident of a group of so-called Christians acting in a way that will do far more to further the cause of militant atheism than it will bring glory to the Kingdom. In fact, if I was the God of the Kingdom and I read this report of how my people speak and behave, i think I would probably close the gates firmly, pack my bags and go off to join the Upstate Atheists myself.
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."
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, "We can all work together to achieve something positive regardless of religion or lack thereof. 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.
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.