A Kansas City-based atheist group that wanted to volunteer for a community Thanksgiving outreach event was turned away by the hosting Christian organization that they have worked with for the past two years because they are "unfit" to help spread the Gospel message, according to an event organizer.
The Kansas City Rescue Mission (KCRM) informed the Kansas City Atheist Coalition (KCAC) that this year they will be adding religious literature to the Thanksgiving meals that they will deliver and they felt that KCAC would not be comfortable "delivering such a message and couldn't sincerely answer questions about faith in Christ if asked to."
"The overall feeling is disappointment. Not only do we enjoy, as a group, the chance to give back, but we also looked forward to turning this into something of an annual tradition," said an unidentified spokesperson from KCAC to The Christian Post via email. "We also enjoyed our work with KCRM as an opportunity to show how atheists and religious people can come together, despite their disagreements over religion, and work together to help people."
Julie Larocco, chief development officer at KCRM told CP that even though the organization enjoyed working with the group, some of their volunteers found members of KCAC to be intimidating and inappropriate at times. Larocco said they told the group they should "brainstorm" ideas in order to continue collaborating in the future. However, KCAC said that upon being rejected from helping, KCRM never followed up with them with that response.
Last year, KCAC made up one-third of the meal delivery team, but this year KCRM felt that is was time to give others the opportunity to experience delivering meals and if they had allowed them to volunteer, Larocco says they would have had to turn down several families and individuals who are interested in helping out.
"Whether they would have been KCAC or a large church group, we would have asked them to step aside to allow others the opportunity to deliver meals," said Larocco.
Instead of what seemed to be an annual Thanksgiving event for KCAC for the past two years, they have decided to join The Micah Ministry instead, which is a Christian church in Kansas City that feeds hundreds of people throughout the year.
"They do not require an acceptance of faith from those who volunteer, nor do they ask one of those who need a warm meal for the night," the atheist group wrote on their website. "They accept all who enter their doors regardless of faith, sexual orientation, race, creed, or legal standing."
KCAC said that they received an overwhelming response from organizations, including churches, asking them to help with their holiday meal deliveries and although they will not partner up with KCRM, they are just glad to help those in need. KCRM also expressed a similar sentiment.
"We continue to feed and shelter around 150 men and women a day in the midst of a large building renovation, this controversy and our preparations for Thanksgiving," said Larocco. "No poor and hungry person will go without [food] because KCAC is not here."