This has really got me fired up. http://www.ktvz.com/news/28251185/detail.html
BEND, Ore. -- To most people, there is nothing humorous about crime, or religious beliefs. But a group with a name many would find amusing is very serious about helping two churches vandalized in its name.
Word of Sunday night's tagging spread to Pastafarian members with the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and atheists across the country.
One of them decided to do something about it - from halfway across the country.
"You know, when I saw this church get vandalized and someone did it, I guess through atheism or Pastafarianism, I just figured the church, even though they are wrong and even though I disagree with their beliefs, they didn't deserve this," atheist Hemant Mehta said Wednesday. "So I think a lot of readers on my site would agree with this, so I asked them if they would consider chipping in."
Hemant Mehta, who goes by "the friendly atheist," created a church cleanup donation fund online from his home in Chicago.
In less than 24 hours, it's already raised nearly $3,000.
His message: This isn't about giving money to a church, it's about righting a wrong.
"This isn't about what they believe and what we believe. Nno one is advocating this," Mehta said. "I don't know who did this, and I hope that whoever did it is caught. But in the meantime, this is the least that anyone can do to just help this church."
Reactions in the non-theist community have ranged from applause to gasps of dismay.
But local churches say that believers or non-believers, the support from the community has been overwhelming.
"You see people who maybe have very different belief systems, and yet come together and realize we are all human." said Mike Alexander with the Westside Church. "And even in this local community of Bend, in the last several hours raise up and do the same thing."
Christian Life Center already has completed most of the clean-up, and the writing on the wall is nearly gone.
Pastor John Bluebaugh said though they wont have much need for the money, we need to learn a lesson.
"It's a good lesson for us to understand that not everyone that adheres to a faith or a belief system is extreme like that and would do something like this," Bluebaugh said Wednesday.
Deschutes County Sheriff's deputies said the vandals could be charged with criminal mischief and intimidation. Both misdemeanor crimes that come with possible jail time and fines up to $2,500
If you have information, call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-877-876-TIPS.
You can remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a cash reward.
This Church actively promotes theocracy, evolution denial, and Bible literalism (read homophobia), and all the other wonderful selective text reading that comes along with Evangelicals. Do I condone the vandalism? No. I don't. However, they're not victims. They're a business. They have insurance. They are part of a church that's part of a billion dollar political machine that is working to blur the lines between church and state constantly, and holds a massive supermajority in this country. I think it was wrong to do this collection, even if the spillover from the cost of the cleanup, goes to a secular foundation. Condemnation of the act is enough and is way more than any of them would ever do if the shoe were on the other foot.
Another thing, I'm getting tired of people making grand gestures on behalf of atheists. I don't want to support that church for the reasons I stated above. I'm not sorry they got vandalized. They preach exclusionary, hateful messages every Sunday. Don't take up a collection as though it's the morally right thing to do, when in truth, it's quite ambiguous, and then offer it on behalf of atheists. That ticks me off.
All that means is that we don't condone the vandalism. Fine. But that doesn't mean we need to financially support a church that's rich anyways and doesn't need it.
Thankfully they declined the money
So, since they are doing evil it's ok to allow bad things to happen to them? This is bordering on the "eye-for-an-eye" mentality we say we reject.
And how are we financially supporting the church? The money was supposed to go directly toward removing graffiti, not toward their anti-gay programs or passing out hate-flyers. In the end they would have no more money than they had before the vandalism. Someone from within our community committed an offense and we were trying to show some compassion and integrity by offering to take care of it.
We can't fight hate with hate. Just because the church doesn't showing compassion for the LGBT community doesn't mean we shouldn't show some compassion for them. We should do the right thing no matter what they teach.
If we paid for removing the graffiti, they wouldn't have had to spend their own money for it. Money that would have been used to further their cause.
The right thing is condemning the vandalism. Anything else goes too far and they haven't earned anything beyond that.
I usually support the efforts of Hemant but not in this case. I don't support vandalism of any kind but that does not mean I want to lend financial support to a church that teaches science-illiteracy & doesn't support equal gay rights. Did Hemant not check into this church before adding a fundraiser to his site? I don't think I would be so strongly against this if the church was a little more on the rational side (less evangelical).
It's the clear that these people don't care about the money raised by Hemant's blog. Did he forget the church receives money every Sunday from their attendees? Oh yeah, did anyone stop to think about how the church members view the giving of this money? They won't see it as humanity coming together for the greater good. God made the atheists give the money!
To be honest, it really doesn't matter how that particular church or its members see it. They are free to accept or reject the money. What is important is that the greater community sees that some atheists are taking action (as opposed to empty words / prayers) to right a wrong. The money is not in any way an endorsement of the views of the church, but rather a rejection of the wrongs committed against the church by some immature atheists. The only "war" we are fighting with church members is a war of ideas, and going out of our way to right the wrongdoings of a small minority of atheists can only do positive things for our cause in the long run. Worrying what the church doesn't "need" this money, or that their message is not a good one is to miss the larger picture.
That said, I believe that this collection was the right thing to do regardless of our overall cause simply because it's the right thing to do. Doing the right thing wouldn't cease to be the right thing if the underlying political motivating factors disappear.
"Jumping in bed with the devil to make yourself look good doesn't really make sense, but I get what you are saying; perhaps people in that church will look a bit better on atheists in future. However, laudable as that sentiment is, I doubt it has merit. At best, like I said in my initial response, it actually makes atheist look more like they are admitting guilt; "we did it, so we'll give you money to fix it" is what it looks like. I dare say that the church-goers will see that as justice served, rather than giving them a warm fuzzy feeling about atheists." - From a friend of mine on Facebook.
Just because there were a couple of immature idiots spray tagging the church, that doesn't make the Church victims, nor the atheist community responsible, which is what the collection looks like.
Agreed Ryan. I also highly agree with your friend's statement, "Jumping in bed with the devil to make yourself look good doesn't really make sense."
"What is important is that the greater community sees that some atheists are taking action"
I agree but I think this can be done without funding the clean up of these type of churches (against science, gays, ect). Just because some dumb kids tagged FSM on the side doesn't mean atheists should 'fix' what the delinquents did. The same church was tagged a few weeks ago in the same spot with Harry Potter references. [Who said it was atheists that tagged the church? Anyone with basic knowledge of the evolution/id controversy would know about FMS. Was anyone ever caught in this case?]
Anyway, there is more to it than just a "war on ideas" (I dislike like using any phrase that begins with "war on"..it's so GOP lol) Extremely Conservative Christians are a problem, no doubt about it. They don't just keep their ideas to themselves. They turn their ideas into actions and those action cause great harm (as Steve said below).
The idea to get atheism out there in a positive light is great idea and one that I stand by. However, $3000 is a lot of money to give to an intolerant group of people for a "cleanup" which may or may not have been done by atheists. (I think now the money is going to a secular foundation so that's awesome to hear)