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Justin Lee

Views & Voices

When Christians are Christianity’s worst enemies

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hi, I’m a Christian.

As a gay man, I understand all too well why those words conjure up fear, loathing, and dramatic eye rolls among my LGBT friends. But I’m proud of my faith. I love its emphasis on grace, mercy, and love. I love Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness, service, putting others first, and giving people more than they deserve. I love that he was known for befriending the outcasts and “sinners” while condemning the religious leaders. We could use a little more of that attitude today!

But as much as I love my faith, sometimes my fellow Christians make me want to scream.

Like this week, when a restaurant server posted this photo on Reddit.

The story: The pastor was part of a party of 20 who ate at this server’s restaurant. Like many American restaurants, this particular one has a policy of adding an automatic 18 percent tip for large parties. It’s something the computer does automatically, not something the server has any control over.

According to the server, the pastor and (her) party tried to get around the automatic 18 percent tip by asking for separate checks, even though the same man was paying for the whole table. The server says that everyone was happy with the service; they just didn’t like the idea of a compulsory tip.

The result? The pastor scribbled out the tip, leaving none at all, and adding the note, “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?”

(As a side note, I suspect the server would have been happy with 10% of the diner’s income as a tip. Only 18% of the cost of the meal is a bargain.)

Oh, and just to drive the point home, this cheapskate made sure to add the word “Pastor” above her signature at the bottom. Because, you know, when you stiff a server, that’s going to make them really eager to join your religious group.

In my book TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, I explain to my fellow Christians that one reason so many LGBT people want nothing to do with Christianity is that Christians have, frankly, been really horrible to us.

If modern American Christians had the reputation of acting like Jesus, we’d at least be a bit more eager to invite them to our parties. As it is, American Christians have almost the opposite reputation—not only with LGBT folks, but in other situations as well. It’s as if being a Christian makes you more of a jerk, rather than less.

In the book, for instance, I tell the story of my own first job waiting tables:

“Sundays are the worst,” one of the servers explained to me. “That’s when the church crowd goes out to eat.”

“What’s wrong with the church crowd?” I asked.

“Oh, honey,” she said. “They’re usually the most demanding, and they’re always the worst tippers. I guarantee you, if you see your table praying before the meal, you can mentally subtract a third from your tip.”

Standing nearby, the manager cracked a smile. “They already gave at church,” he said. “They don’t have any money left.”

In conversations with my server friends across the country, I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed time and time again. As a Christian, I find this infuriating.

Yes, a lot of us think the tipping system in America could be improved. In many countries, servers are paid a decent wage, and tips are an added incentive to reward a job especially well done. I know a lot of people who think it should be that way in the United States, too, but it’s not.

In most states, servers are paid only a little over $2 an hour (yes, you read that right), with the expectation that they will make their living from tips. You might not like that system, but if you choose to express your displeasure with it by tipping your server poorly, the only person you’re hurting is the server — someone who is already living on very little money and depending on your tip to help them pay their bills.

As a former server myself, I always tip at least 18-20 percent — and usually more — unless the service was just so unbearably horrible that it destroyed the dining experience.

Even then, I still tip, just not as much. If I can’t afford the tip, I don’t eat out, or I eat someplace where diners aren’t expected to tip. Otherwise, I consider paying my server to be part of the cost of the meal.

I think everyone should tip that way. It’s the right thing to do, regardless of your faith, but I hold my fellow Christians to an especially high standard on this. I believe people who are serious about following Jesus ought to be particularly generous and give more than people expect.

Personally, I’d love to live in a world where non-Christians said of Christians, “I don’t agree with their beliefs, but those folks sure do know how to tip!”

So to my fellow Christians, I say this: Tip your server. Tip them well. And if you refuse, then please don’t go out to eat after church, don’t pray before your meal, and don’t sign your receipt with the word “pastor.” Because your bad behavior is reflecting on my God and the faith that I love.

We Christians are supposed to be the generous ones, not the stingy and selfish ones.

Of course, this isn’t just about tipping. It’s about how we treat people.

So if you’re a Christian who believes your faith is all about preaching at others about their sins and voting to force everyone to live according to your beliefs, all while failing to show a bit of human compassion to your waiter, then do me a favor: Don’t call yourself a Christian.

Use some other word to describe your faith, because the “Christ” in question taught his followers to be humble, generous, and merciful, and your misuse of his name is ruining it for the rest of us.

Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

Editor’s Note: Although not mentioned in the above article, the restaurant was an Applebee’s franchise in the St. Louis area, and the pastor has since been identified as Alois Bell. Bell has since complained that the ensuing firestorm of publicity has “ruined” her reputation.

Applebee’s issued this statement Thursday, announcing that it has fired the server, Chelsea Welch, for posting the receipt on Reddit.

Our Guests’ personal information – including their meal check – is private, and neither Applebee’s nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests’ trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest’s right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee.

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34 more reader comments:

  1. I think it is funny how the pastor worded the note… “10% to God”. Clearly talking about tithing but shouldn’t a “holy man” be giving 100% to God? Thats what Jesus Christ himself required.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:44pm
  2. a pastor giving 10% to their own church is giving to themselves

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:46pm
  3. Instead of trying to buy his way into Heaven. perhaps the Pastor should take his Money and buy a Soul!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:48pm
  4. heard the server got fired too///not sure if true or not

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:49pm
  5. The bible describing homosexuality as being an abomination does not mean to express hatred & prejudice towards every gay person. In fact, there’s really no excuse for that kind of an attitude.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:51pm
  6. yes, article says server was fired

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:52pm
  7. Yes, she was terminated. Talk about standing up for your employees. Not.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:53pm
  8. The server was wrong to post a receipt online to embarrass a customer. Of course she would be fired. The patriots not was ridiculous but you don’t post it online to the public. You just realize some people are adopted, even pastors, and move on.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:56pm
  9. Pastor’s note

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:57pm
  10. Assholes, not adopted, uggg

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 3:57pm
  11. One of the things that turned me off from Christianity was the notion of being a good person so you don’t make your religion look bad. Why not tip well, if you can afford it, and do good things because it makes the world a better place? I can get being a Christian and not wanting other Christians to be a cause for negative stigma, but the notion has always felt, well, shallow. It’s better than being a jerk, though, but when you have ppl being jerks because of said religion, well, what’s the point?

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:02pm
  12. First thing that comes to mind in this is a question for that ass of a pastor, their phrase: WWJD?

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:21pm
  13. I think I recall as well that Applebee’s is one of those co.’s supporting extreme rightwing groups

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:24pm
  14. “my reputation is ruined”- boo hoo, karma’s a bitch.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:26pm
  15. I’m a Humanist and I give a 20% tip. ;)

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 4:31pm
  16. hey all your cherry picking Christians you believe in a cult of genocide and you agree with 400 years of slavery, 400 years of inquisitions, 1945 years of murdering Jews, decades of Crusades, colonizing every continent and murdering hundreds of millions of people in “Jesus’” name. Stop cherry picking the cult whose genocidal followers are murderers

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 5:33pm
  17. I hate when people say they’re giving 10% to God when it really means they’re giving it to the church. God doesn’t have a checking account…

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 5:33pm
  18. Isn’t that stealing? Not paying the required gratuity? That’s like me buying a bunch of shit at the store and refusing to pay the 6% tax. I always give at least a 20% tip at restaurant and I’m a fucking college student. If I can pay, so that these spoiled rotten assholes.

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:09pm
  19. *can… This fucking thing…

    Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:10pm
  20. no thats rite

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 8:58pm
  21. Wow… no one gets any special treatment regardless of what religion you are… the heck

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:00pm
  22. The server actually got fired for posting this online, which is a shame.

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:02pm
  23. Applebee’s fired the waitres for posting that receipt online…

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:04pm
  24. looks like a lot of people got fired lol ALSO what happened to ( No Religion + Politics/Economic) type stuff?

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:05pm
  25. I googled around and found two different donation funds set up for the waitress that was fired for posting this online. If anyone’s curious:

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:31pm
  26. The Episcopal faith teaches to give in scarcity as well as in abundance for all is Gods and is bequeathed to you by Him. What you do with His gifts is a part of free will. Tithing is not just your duty to your church. When you donate your clothes to non-profit agencies, or buy from them, or share your time positively with a friend or stranger in the super market, or hug another, give to charity, these are all tithing tasks that God has asked of us not for Him! But for each other here on Earth!

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:31pm
  27. the pastor is a hypocritical asshat… typical of what i see with fundamental christians… personally i would boycott crapplebees for firing the server

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:53pm
  28. This server was fired for posting this from an Applebees. I to am a server with Applebees and have been for over 5 years. I have a family and am also a member of the gay community. I’m happly married to a women and we have 2 children. The problem is we as server work on wages below minum wage. For me I work for $3.63 hour and rely on those tips to help my family. Familys come in all the time spend any where from $25 to $70 easily, the thing is that they have enough money to feed there family but can’t leave my even 5% as a tip so I can go home and feed mine. This is happing more and more every day that I work. And we can’t complain to anyone or even say something about this to guest or post anything without getting fired. This world is tough I get that but I work hard at my job and try to do my best with every guest. Let me go home and feed my family to. I thank this girl for posting this maybe everyone will finally realize we as servers don’t make money we work for our money through our guest.

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 10:10pm
  29. It’s impossible to be a good person and follow the laws of the bible. Anyone who professes to believe in the bible as it is written can’t possibly be a decent human being.

    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 11:17pm
  30. There are so many religions of the world, pick a new one! The Bible is not a final word….it’s a book of inspiration, not FACT!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3:56am
  31. This woman DARES to write she’s a pastor??? She’s just a greedy, disrespectful and shameful person who’s an insult to the Lord. Jesus taught us to be generous with those who need it, not with the rich…

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 5:54am
  32. I do think 18% is kind of high and I would complain (((Only if I didnt know they charged that much and it wasn’t posted somewhere))) I always see notices “we charge this much extra for parties larger than 6.” But then to add “God” to a written complaint… that’s wrong. That’s just using God and Religion to justify your disdain about things. a simple note “18% is enough” would have been fine. But to put God and your a pastor… she got what she deserved. I really wish that server didn’t get fired ….

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 6:37am
  33. 18% is NOT high , Paradigm Shift.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 8:47am
  34. I agree 18% is not high when servers only make about $3 an hour anyways when most people work for way more and really don’t have to work for say 11 dollars an hour. I’m a server and I remember when tips were good and they averaged for me making $18 dollars an hour now I’m lucky to make 10 an hour with tips included

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 9:36am