S.C. atheists barred from volunteering
Upstate Atheists, a freethought group in the Spartanburg, S.C., area, was barred from volunteering at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen, according to an Oct. 23 story in the Herald-Journal.
Eve Brannon, 25, Upstate Atheists president, said the group would instead hand out 300 “care” packages to the needy on Oct. 26. Packages contained socks, gloves, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, soap, rain ponchos, snacks, shaving razors, antiseptic wipes, deodorants, tissues and gum.
“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, Soup Kitchen executive director, told the Herald-Journal she would resign 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 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.”
Landrum added, “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.”
Legion pulls support over pledge refusal
American Legion Post 134 in Morton Grove, Ill., withdrew its financial support for the city park district because park board member Dan Ashta refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Post Commander Joseph Lampert confronted Ashta at the Oct. 24 board meeting.
Ashta thanked Lampert for speaking his mind, according to the Morton Grove Champion, but stood his ground, as he did earlier when he told the village clerk that “I feel like we’re compelling people to speak,” adding that the First Amendment affords the right to also not speak.
Ashta objected to making people pledge allegiance to a government they might oppose. He said people with objections to religion or religious objections also shouldn’t have to feel isolated or unwanted for not standing.
“I think the Constitution is what makes this country great and worth making sacrifices for. Countries with weak constitutions usually don’t last,” Ashta said.
Post 134, with about 800 members, contributes $2,600 annually to city-sponsored events.
Christian college group flush with cash
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, headquartered in Madison, Wis., had just over $99 million in 2012-13 revenues, according to an Oct. 9 InterVarsity press release. That amount puts InterVarsity atop a list of Wisconsin nonprofits compiled by KerstenDirect, a Texas fundraising and marketing agency. The ranking doesn’t include hospitals, universities, museums and several other categories of nonprofits.
InterVarsity’s National Service Center in Madison serves over 1,600 staff, including field staff who work with 909 InterVarsity chapters on 590 college and university campuses across the U.S.