GREENVILLE, S.C. — A leader of a South Carolina atheist organization has discontinued her online offer to attend the church of the highest bidder after the popular auction site eBay repeatedly removed her ad—and then apologized for the mistake.
As previously reported, Eve Brannon, the president of Upstate Atheists, posted the offer on Ebay earlier this month 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 funds generated from the auction were to go Upstate Atheist’s charitable programs, more specifically, Brannon’s efforts to buy teddy bears for the Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital.
However, eBay reportedly removed the ad on several occasions, even after Brannon made adjustments to satisfy the requirements.
“I received an email stating that I broke a policy. I had to change the ad to take out that the money was going to charity,” she told reporters. “I revised the ad and removed the part that spoke about where the funds would be going. I got another email saying it was breaking the policy.”
However, the auction was soon removed for the second time, and the link was redirected to a page for online sales of the 1996 album Take Me to Your Leader by the contemporary Christian band Newsboys.
Brannon then spoke with a representative of eBay to resolve the matter. She was provided with advice on the placement of the ad and advised that the changes she made were satisfactory. But when the auction was removed for a third time, she decided to call it quits.
“They called me and told me that it was removed in error three times, which didn’t make sense to me,” Brannon told GoUpstate.com. “They said they could repost it for me, but they didn’t say it wouldn’t be removed again.”
eBay has confirmed that the matter was a mistake.
“eBay has outlined clear polices for our sellers and works vigilantly to ensure responsible use of our marketplace,” Communications Manager Ryan Moore told the publication. “In situations when unusual or high-profile listings come to our attention, we review them to ensure they comply with policies and work with sellers to list them appropriately. When a listing is erroneously removed in this process, we work just as hard to make amends and restore the listing in a timely manner. In this case, the listing was removed in error.”
Brannon says that while she will be seeking other options for her charity fundraiser, she still may visit one or more churches that expressed interest. She states that pastors have continued to extend invitations to her and have offered to donate to her charitable efforts despite the auction being removed.