The Humanist Dilemma: What Happened to the Nonbeliever Who Asked about Volunteering at a Church?

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My non-Christian services were rejected: About two months ago I wrote you about my effort to volunteer for a youth after-school program being run by a strongly Christian group of people. They allowed me to come and lead a session on hand-sewing as an essential life skill, but that day they also held a board meeting and decided I was not acceptable as a volunteer. I was not too surprised since I knew they wanted Christians to lead their little angels, but it was still a little disappointing.

They told me that they have turned down other applicants as well. I said they were shooting themselves in the foot, turning down volunteers when it’s so hard to get them. I will now devote all of my volunteer time to the secular organizations I favor—a local library and an arts alliance.

—Non-Christians Need Not Apply


Dear Need Not Apply,

Thank you for following up to let us know what happened.

Congratulations for giving it a try. There was the possibility that the organization would flex on its Christian-only policy and embrace the value of your service, and you couldn’t know for sure. It’s actually surprising that they let you teach at all before they turned you down.

Additional kudos for politely suggesting that they are dismissing talent they might be wiser to nurture. Maybe you will help move the needle and one day they will accept non-Christian volunteers.

Finally, extra kudos for the fact that, rather than just pick up your ball and go home in disgust, you’ve persisted in your quest to volunteer and make a place for yourself in organizations that are happy to take advantage of your skills and desire to be of service.

They say what goes around comes around. If religious organizations insist on turning away people like you, and secular groups are delighted to make that loss their gain, so be it. Operating within a religious bubble may not be a great strategy, since bubbles eventually burst.