Atheists & Christians Play Different Games

Do you know that annoying first grader who yells out rule changes at the end of each game so he can claim that he won? Yeah, me too. As a grown-up you dislike that behavior, but as a kid you despise it; of course, it makes a big difference to you when you're seven whether it's the biggest or the smallest kid in the group doing it.

Atheists, as many have noted, have bad manners. And this is because they get so very very frustrated at the game.

Recently the Secular Coalition for American asked the IRS to revoke 501(c)3 privileges from churches, on the grounds that they're not charities like all the other non-profits (although I suppose that would mean that rugby and knitting clubs would have to lose their status too).

Also, you might like to know that Atheist Volunteers Snubbed By Christian Food Kitchen Will Restore Your Faith In All That's Good. A group called Upstate Atheists was turned away. Yes, that's their name. Upstate Atheists. They're proselytizing too.

The narrative is always the same.

Christians are operating on one plane, atheists on another. Atheists step on to the playground and start pretending that Christians are breaking the rules, that they win after all.

In both the stories linked to above, the atheistic rhetoric is that churches are charities. Social projects. That's the only possible good atheists can see in them, so they insist that both sides see them that way. They can't give what Jesus gives, whether Jesus is a lie or not. So they reduce the game. They pretend we're both playing "charity", when charity is really just something that happens when we do the Gospel game.

Christians don't think churches are charities. Sorry to break it to you. They're houses of worship. Yes. Primitive bow-down-before-your-Maker worship.

Jesus taught us that the poor will always be with us. When he healed the sick, when he fed the hungry, when he lifted up the outcasts, the social help he gave them was secondary to his Good News. Every tale like that in the Gospels is centered around his message to Israel and the world.

And that's how it is for Christians.

The soup kitchen in Spartanburg, SC mentioned in the link above turned atheist volunteers away. And since not all atheists are as honest as Penn Jillette, they pretend outrage. They act like we're all here to feed the hungry. Except we're not. We're here to save the hungry. We Christians are playing a whole 'nother game.

And you know that, atheists. I'd like to tell you to stop being such bitches about it, except that now you're winning. You've got all the other kids in the playground believing that the game is your small little game. That there's nothing beyond this world, and that we're all in this together.

So what can I say except, "well played, atheists, well played"?

I can assure you, however, that the mean ol' lady at the soup kitchen and I are going to keep playing our little game in our little corner, believing that one day the whole playground will bow.

Like she said, "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? Why are they targeting us? They don't give any money. I wouldn't want their money."

That's right, lady. Get back to saving the hungry. The Lord be with you.


  1. The problem I have with claims like this is that this treats all members of a given set as though they are one monolithic, coherent group acting in unison. That's really not the case, since "atheists", like any other collective label, applies to a bunch of people with very different perceptions about a lot of things.

    I also have a problem with the suggestion that the atheists are a majority ganging up on the one Christian kid, because that is just not true. Non-religious Americans only make up about 1/5 of the population by even the most generous survey estimates, so atheists are still a clear minority group in this country. They're at times a very loud minority group, but 20 percent is in no conceivable way "winning".

    Finally, you say "In both the stories linked to above, the atheistic rhetoric is that churches are charities" yet one of the stories is about how atheists want to revoke tax exempt status from churches on the basis that they are not charities. That's the exact opposite of saying that churches are charities.

    I'm not pointing any of this out in an effort to promote atheist political motives, I just think that from a purely objective standpoint your argument has some problems.

    1. Well, since you're being purely objective...

    2. Okay, "purely" is a slight overstatement. To as great an extent as possible, given the nature of the topic, those points are objective flaws in your argument.

    3. 1. If I didn't generalize, I wouldn't be blogging, I'd have to write a paper. I say "in both the stories linked to above", and that should be enough. I argue that certain things are true of my examples, then blow that up. That's pretty normal in the ol' world of logic and rhetoric.

      2. I don't think atheists are picking on one Christian kid. I'm saying that the one atheist kid gets all the Christian kids to play his game. As for "winning", in the HuffPo story he's presented as the unequivocal good guy, while I think that that dude and his group did indeed target a ministry they knew would say no, strictly for the rhetorical effect.

      3. The churches aren't charities thing works because of the underlying idea that they should be charities. A church could stay 501(c)3 if they showed they were actually doing what atheists think they should be doing, which is feeding the poor.

    4. 1. Fair enough. Logic and rhetoric tend not to behave the same way, so I'd say this is more of a rhetorical device, but that's a whole other topic.

      2. If that's your stance, then I agree. It just wasn't what it sounded to me like you were saying, so the clarification of your point helps.

      3. This one also makes sense once you clarify your point, since changing "is" to "should be" makes a pretty big difference.

      Thanks for giving a complete response.

  2. Taxing churches just doesn't make sense.
    All the income from the churches are voluntary contributions. From after tax dollars. And there is oversight. The congregation, who gives the money, also oversees how it is spent. If you refuse to call it a house of worship the closest model is some kind of community trust.
    It's a bunch of people who come together, pool their money and do whatever they want with it.
    The government should have nothing whatsoever to say about it.


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