Thursday, January 31, 2013

The 10% Tithing Note Controversy

There's a post going around on Facebook about an Applebee's waitress that took a photo of credit card slip upon which a note was left by the customer, a pastor that reads: “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” If this wasn't enough, the signee seems to stress her point by authoritatively writing “Pastor” above her signature. According to News who picked up the story, the waitress states she found it funny, thus her reasoning for posting a photo of it, not expecting it to go viral. Evidently the pastor got wind of it, became upset, called Applebee's to complain, which resulted in the waitress being fired. The article quotes the pastor as being surprised by the firing, as well as acknowledging she had a “lapse in character and judgment” in leaving the note.

After reading this Facebook post, I shared it as a statement of my protest of a Christian leader using God to place herself above another by virtue of her tithing practice, and the effort she went to to make her point via the note on the receipt. There is no question the waitress used very poor judgment posting the receipt; however, one choice begets another, productive or not. The originating choice in this situation showed poor judgment in leaving what appears to be a pious self-righteous note intended to put someone in their Christian place. And our choices create our reality. In this case, the pastor's choice to leave the note created the reality in that momentary lapse of judgment, her character was revealed for all the world to see. The waitress's choice to post the receipt and its message created the opportunity to file for unemployment.

After sharing the FB post with my thoughts, I opened up Pinterest to find the photo of this same receipt, and with it almost two dozen comments of varying opinions! Fascinating that this one person's decision to leave a nasty-gram for whatever reason has spurred quite the debate on social media!

One friend commented on my FB share that regardless of whether the person was a pastor, a farmer or a purple people eater (I love this!), "a Christian is able to make a mistake," which is true. In fact, if you are human you will make a mistake, no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs. I think many tend to forget this fact. Both the waitress and the pastor made poor choices in this situation and both are suffering the consequences of those choices. My beef is that someone who is suppose to be a Christian leader and role model of Christ teachings is using God as their rationale for not leaving a tip. Not cool. I've waited tables and it is for the most part a thankless job. I've been stiffed tips a time or two, and that's the risk of the job because you will on occasion wait on stingy frugal-minded jerks. But I am thankful for those teachers because they taught me to be generously abundant as a tipper.

The opinions generated on Pinterest run the gamut. I find it interesting really how Christians are quick to come to the defense of another Christian who makes a mistake; yet, when someone else, especially someone of a differing faith makes a mistake, they are quick to call them out for their non-Christian-like behavior. Its fascinating. In some comments, Christians call out the less than Christian action on the part of the pastor. Those who obviously have a strong bent against Christianity are as equally less forgiving as those Christians who have a strong bent against those who don't believe as they do.

One comment suggests that the pastor thought herself “slick when she wrote it and later embarrassed she was caught.” Its not uncommon that when we make a choice that yields less than positive results, we are left feeling embarrassed, perhaps even ashamed. Another pinner states that “As a server, I find this appalling. How dare she eat out and not compensate appropriately!” Actually the dinner bill automatically added an18% gratuity (scribbled out on the receipt) because the pastor's party had more than eight people, so the waitress was in fact compensated appropriately. The receipt offers the guest an option to add more tip. Another pinner notes about the pastor: “not very christian of her to make people with "lesser" jobs suffer/struggle more than they already are.” Puh-leez. The suggestion that this gal is in a “lesser” job is in and of itself an insult to all waitresses and waiters! We need them and they are valuable to our dining enjoyment! How can their willingness to serve others, a Christian principle I might add, be “lesser?”

Another pinner gets that the 10% really isn't about God, stating “God is asking for it to show obedience not because he needs money, he has everything.” The 10% tithing often goes towards church expenses, including a pastor's salary, and various mission service projects the church supports. God invites us to share our abundance with others (the Law of Circulation). While I recognize the Christian point of view is that God judges us by our actions, I don't believe that God judges us at all, never mind by how much of our money we give in His name, but rather witnesses the intentions within our heart. One pinner defends the waitress, stating, “I'm a Christian. Unless service is lousy or the server rude and unfriendly, I always give 20% tip.” I like her way of sharing the abundance!

I think this pinner's statement really hits home on what we all tend to do, whether it's religion, politics, ethnicity, cultures or lifestyles: “The actions of this pastor are appalling. I am disappointed however, that (receipt pinner) chose to equate the reprehensible actions of one person with religion as a whole. That sort of blanket generalization is unfair and offensive.” Ironically another Christian pinner states, “Christians as a whole should not be judged by this one woman's actions.” I couldn't agree more!

Now if only Christians would remember this about Muslims, gays, etc. And Muslims would remember this about Christians, Americans, etc. And Americans remember this about Mexicans, welfare recipients, etc.

Well, you get my point.

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