Only got ten minutes to save the world...

Between the new baby and the Ph.D., this grad student only has ten minutes a day to philosophize culture. Bear with me as I tell you how to think...

all within a ten-minute writing limit.



We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service (Opportunities) to Atheists

I finally found a way to turn my theory into activism. I emailed government officials and made phone calls and finally found a volunteering outlet perfect for my passion and expertise: Wellspring Living, a facility that offers a safe haven to women and girls who have been victims of sexual exploitation. There's only one problem: I'm not a Christian and so I'm not welcome.

I had a plan. Although I identify primarily as a literary/cultural theorist, I do possess a passion for creative writing (and a Master's degree in the subject, though the value of that is negligible). I concocted this idea where I would run creative writing workshops for the women of Wellspring. I could help them find their voices again, or maybe for the first time. I could perhaps contribute just a bit to the reconstruction of real women, not just the deconstruction of  "Woman". I could convert all this talk into action.   

I guess the fact that the second question on the application was "How has Jesus Christ affected your life?" should have tipped me off that perhaps my application would land in the "undesirables" pile.

Forget the Master's degree. Hell, I forget it myself, a lot of the time. But what about my passion, my expertise, my experience teaching, my intricate Dangerous Minds--esque fantasy of touching lives that are in peril?

Although Wellspring's website does not boldly advertise itself as such, it is a Christian organization. Okay. They have a right to that affiliation.

And although I was a bit shocked at just how Christian the second "Jesus Christ" application question made this organization seem, I remained diplomatic. I replied something along the lines of, "Although I personally have no religious affiliation, I understand that Wellspring is a Christian organization, and I respect and honor this aspect of Wellspring."

Before turning in the application, I spoke on the phone to the head of operations. She was excited about the prospect of my Creative Writing Workshop plan. She pointed out how "healing" it could be for the women. She even intimated that perhaps it could become a regular gig. Michelle Pheiffer, get your leather coat, 'cause you're getting a casting call. 

Yet a week later, I get an email from the same woman informing me that Wellspring has certain "expectations" of its volunteers. They thank me for my honesty, but tell me that because of my lack of Jesus-worship, I am not allowed to work in the house with the women. I can, however, work in their store, raising funds for the organization.

What this not-so-subtly implies is: "We don't want your heathen influence upon our women, but we do welcome you to make us some money."

Fuck that.

Wellspring clearly has a right to be a Christian organization. And I suppose they have a right to reject me.

But picture this: my hypothetical secular organization rejects your service because you're a Christian.

Now we've got a problem, don't we. A legal issue.

No atheists allowed at this lunch counter today, ma'am. We reserve the right to refuse service opportunities to anyone, especially the godless.

<minute ten.>


Rachel said...

I am still floored by this Lindsay. It reminds me of the debates in my high school. The Christians kids had a "right" to wear their Christian shirts, but if an atheist wore her/his atheist shirt...they were made to turn it inside out because it would cause kids to feel violent. WTF?! How many battles were fought in the name of Christianity...including our Iraq War.

I am a Christian, but I must not follow the same standards as this company. It is situations like this and companies that are all-inclusive like this that turn people away from Christ (not what we are supposed to be doing, living our lives in a way that makes others want to turn TO Christ). Ugh, I could understand their position if you were signing up as a counselor to the women (of course they want their counselors to teach about Christ...that makes sense)...but you were teaching a class...a valuable class regardless of religious orientation!

This really fired me up! Maybe we should start our own organization!

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