GREENVILLE, S.C. — The president of a South Carolina-based atheist organization is auctioning off the chance for her to attend church with her daughter.
Eve Brannon, the president of Upstate Atheists, posted the offer on Ebay this week in an auction entitled “Take an Atheist Leader to Church.”
“We will listen to the sermon, and I agree to be acknowledged as a guest,” she wrote in the description. “I will speak to members of the congregation if you wish and what led me to the path I chose. I’m fine with speaking publicly, answering questions, or simply sitting in the crowd.”
“I will not question or refute anyone’s beliefs,” Brannon added. “I will be respectful of all members of the church.”
The church must be within 50 miles of Wellford, South Carolina or else transportation and lodging must be provided.
Brannon says that she believes views the matter as a learning experience for both herself and her four-year-old daughter as she has not been to church since she was a child.
“I think this will be an educational experience for me,” she told reporters. “My daughter has no idea what God is, so it should be interesting.”
“I’m certainly not trying to infiltrate a church,” Brannon added to local television station WHNS. “You know, I’m going with an open mind. I’m going to be as positive as I can. … I don’t want anyone to think negatively about it at all.”
The funds generated from the auction will go Upstate Atheist’s charitable programs, more specifically, Brannon’s efforts to buy teddy bears for the Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital. As of Friday, there were 32 bids on the offer, with the highest bid standing at $110.
Reaction to the online auction has been mixed.
“There are a lot of Christians, evangelicals especially, who believe that atheists simply don’t want to open themselves up to what the Bible has to say,” prominent atheist Hemant Mehta told the Herald-Journal. “It’s a perfect opportunity for Christians to bring their A-game and make their case for Christ to an atheist who’s willing to listen to everything with an open mind. Considering that many evangelical churches encourage congregation members to bring unchurched people to the pews, this ought to be a welcome experiment that I hope many churches consider bidding on.”
“I believe so strongly in the Gospel that I want to put our money where our mouth is,” agreed Pastor Marcus Buckley of Riverside Baptist Church in Greer. “If taking someone out to dinner is going to earn me the right to share the Gospel with them, then why in the world would I not buy them dinner?”
“God doesn’t play let’s make a deal,” another opined. “You either accept this free gift or reject it.”