Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Death: Why the Brain Matters

Obamacare’s “Secret Trick” Could Cure CEO Pay Excesses

Here’s a Terrible Idea: Robot Cars With Adjustable Ethics Settings

Thoughts on Bostrom’s ‘Superintelligence’

Skepticism, the Singularity, Future Technology & Favorite Frauds

Siegel @ Palenque Norte, Burning Man


ieet books

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies
Author
by Nick Bostrom


comments

Eric Schulke on 'How would you spend $5k to spread info & raise awareness about indefinite life extension?' (Aug 28, 2014)

Rick Searle on 'Death Threats, Freedom, Transhumanism, and the Future' (Aug 28, 2014)

hankpellissier on 'Death Threats, Freedom, Transhumanism, and the Future' (Aug 28, 2014)

Rick Searle on 'Death Threats, Freedom, Transhumanism, and the Future' (Aug 28, 2014)

hankpellissier on 'Death Threats, Freedom, Transhumanism, and the Future' (Aug 28, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Robots Are People, Too' (Aug 27, 2014)

Giulio Prisco on 'Karlsen on God and the Benefits of Existence' (Aug 27, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections

Sex Work, Technological Unemployment and the Basic Income Guarantee

Technological Unemployment but Still a Lot of Work…

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Enhancing Virtues: Self-Control and Mindfulness
Aug 19, 2014
(7615) Hits
(0) Comments

Is using nano silver to treat Ebola misguided?
Aug 16, 2014
(6150) Hits
(0) Comments

“Lucy”: A Movie Review
Aug 18, 2014
(5498) Hits
(0) Comments

High Tech Jainism
Aug 10, 2014
(5208) Hits
(5) Comments



IEET > Rights > Economic > Life > Vision > Contributors > Valerie Tarico

Print Email permalink (2) Comments (3106) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Waitress-Stiffing Pastor Simply Said What Many Christians Think and Do


Valerie Tarico
Valerie Tarico
Ethical Technology

Posted: Feb 9, 2013

The story has gone viral: A group got together at Applebees. When the tab came the minister wrote on the ticket, “I give God 10 percent, why do you get 18?” She scratched through the automatic large-group tip and substituted a fat zero and signed it with the word “Pastor” in front of her name. The waitress posted an image on Reddit. The pastor called to complain. The waitress got fired. The internet went wild. Last I saw, one story had 80,000 comments and counting.

Appebees Receipt from RedditIn reality, the pastor simply exposed something that is all too common to Christian thinking: the sense that giving to the church and to religious charities is the be-all and end all of generosity. As indignant reactions to the Applebee’s incident show, service workers sometimes pay the price:

  • “I worked at the Outback Steakhouse for 3 years and we ALL dreaded Sundays.”
  • “The Sunday after church crowd were allways the worst tippers. I found another line of work.”
  • “As a former waitress who frequently served large parties of CHURCH members and pastors, I can attest to the fact that the majority of them were very demanding, condescending, dismissive and cheap. When 1 or 2 from the party of 12 -15 did tip they would leave pennies and loose change.”
  • “I have waited tables in the past and I am sorry to say this behavior is not unusual. Often Ministers come into restaurants with their parishioners and treat the staff their to wait on them beyond poorly. They usually come in rather large parties and often leave very little tip for the poor server, who goes out of their way to care for the group.”
  • “I also provide a service to the public. It is ALWAYS the churches that want something for free or don’t tip.”
  • “I waited tables for over 30 years and I have been stiffed many times by people like her.”

As an Arizona child, I grew up in a community in which tithing was expected. My parents gave regularly to the church and provided sustaining support to missionary organizations ranging from Wycliffe Bible Translators, which targets isolated tribes for conversion, to Child Evangelism Fellowship which views America’s public schools as a mission field. Our church showcased individual missionary families as well as far-reaching organizations like Focus on the Family. In my memory, it never encouraged generosity toward groups whose primary mission was justice or aid or stewardship. Similarly, church members were encouraged to take care of the elderly and ill—but only those within the church community or those being targeted for conversion. Whether and how to tip a hard-scrabbling waitress simply wasn’t a part of the conversation.

The practice of tipping taps into two very basic moral impulses – perhaps humanity’s two most fundamental moral instincts: reciprocity and empathy. The reciprocity aspect is obvious: you give good service, I give you a good tip. (Tipping is the reason service is better here than in France.) But as comment threads about the Applebee’s waitress indicate, many of us give generously to wait-staff because we know what it’s like to be in their shoes. “Servers work hard for little money. A lot are just trying to pay their way through college or even just trying to make a little cash in high school, or even supporting a family.” “My friend works in a restaurant and I asked him how much he get paid. He said $2.00/ hr. and only depend on tips. I said, that’s against the minimum wage law? I need work just to survive to eat. Thinking about him, I always give at least 18% or 20 for the services they do.” Generosity is rooted in empathy.

Christian tipping - Money in BibleResearchers are starting to apply the tools of the social sciences to study religion, and one of the big questions they are asking is whether religion makes people more generous. The answer is complicated and much debated. Religious people make more tax deductible donations, but without controlled research it has been hard to sort out how much of their giving is simply to promote their own religion or to pay for what economists call “club benefits.”  A recent study by the Nottingham University Business School suggests that religion has little effect on generosity per se, except toward insiders. In one task, Malasians of different religions faced a situation in which they had an imaginary sum of money that they could share or not share with another person. The other person could give part back, in which case that part would be tripled. Religious participants, including Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists became more generous than nonreligious only when they were told that the other participant was a member of their own faith.

One factor this particular study doesn’t address is that religion provides social expectations and mechanisms for giving, and even sometimes establishes a duty to give a certain amount, as in the case of tithing. Stanford Professor Robert Putnam co-authored the book American Grace in which he lined up evidence that religious Americans give more than secular Americans. Contrary to much of the follow-up crowing about compassionate conservatives, he actually found that religious liberals were more generous than religious conservatives.  The key to giving appeared to be not piety but community, the question of how many friends a person that were a part of their church: “Faith is less important than communities of faith,” Putnam said.

Religious institutions sometimes exploit and redirect empathic or generous impulses, converting them into a means of simply feeding the beast more dollars or adherents. My friend Kent recently received a mailer titled, “They’re Crying Out for Bibles. Please Help!” It told of one “dear elderly” woman in China who had been waiting for a Bible all her life. When Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, a different missionary organization used the disaster to raise funds and ship Haitians much needed solar-powered Bibles. At the time of the Asian Tsunami, a Seattle mega-church sympathized on its website and then advised parishioners to pray for those affected, give to their church-building ministries (aka conversion activities) in India, and give to Mars Hill Church. A hip newspaper published by the same church, advises that God want you to give first and foremost to your home congregation. The formula has worked beautifully for them.

But the very same mechanisms that can direct the generous impulse to fill church coffers and pews can also elicit or shape generosity for other purposes. In his book and TED talk, Atheism 2.0, Alain de Botton argued that people who have moved beyond supernaturalism should adapt and keep the best of religion. One aspect of that is a structural, institutional emphasis on service and giving.

Nonbelief in America is growing rapidly, and as it does, nascent secular groups are asking what it might mean for them to be giving communities.  A Kiva lending team that calls itself “Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists, and the Non-Religious” is Kiva’s the top ranked team in terms of total microcredit lending. The Foundation Beyond Belief recently created added tools to build on-the-ground volunteer groups centered on “compassionate humanism. Religious communities increase giving by making it easy and fun to give and sometimes by making it uncomfortable not to. Many churches offer automatic monthly withdrawals. Mormon bishops have been known to have face to face discussions in which they actually review a family’s finances and level of giving. While few of us want the secular equivalent of bishops rooting around in our bank statements, doing a blood drive together, swapping notes about favorite charities, or teaming up on an aid project can be immensely rewarding.

So can cultivating a sense of empathy and a habit of generosity toward folks who work hard for a living.


Dr. Valerie Tarico is a psychologist with a passion for personal and social evolution.  In 2005, she co-founded the Progress Alliance of Washington, a collective of future-oriented donors investing in progressive change.  She also is the founder of WisdomCommons.org, an interactive website that showcases humanity’s shared moral core via quotes, poetry, stories and essays from many traditions. Tarico’s book, Trusting Doubt:  A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, offers personal insight into how we can apply “constructive curiosity” to our most closely guarded beliefs. 

As a social commentator, Tarico writes and speaks on issues ranging from religious fundamentalism to gender roles, to reproductive rights and technologies. A primary focus is on improving access to top tier contraceptive technologies.  To that end, she serves on the board of Advocates for Youth, a D.C. based nonprofit with wide-ranging programs related to reproductive health and justice.  Tarico co-chairs of Washington Women for Choice, serves on the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest Board of Advocates, and is a Senior Writing Fellow at Sightline Institute, a think tank focused on sustainable prosperity. Her articles appear at sites including the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Salon, AlterNet, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and at her blog, AwayPoint


Print Email permalink (2) Comments (3107) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


What we have to do is level with Christians and other of the religious; we must stop temporising. What 95+ percent of us don’t do is be frank with our relatives who are religious— that has got to stop. We can go along with the spirit of religion (no pun intended) yet we ought to tell them their religion itself is gobbledygook. And insincere as well: unless they possess room temperature IQs, Christians must know Prosperity Christianity is entirely revisionist: the Bible states “you may have abundant life” not in the context of today’s glomming smarm—
but, rather, a decent life. The Bible specifically says to sell what one has and give to the poor.
IMO taxing churches is not the worst proposal one might put forth; not so much for the revenue going to the poor, but to cut back on churches’ power. A priest shall learneth to be humble!
A priest shall learn his humble place.





I agree 100% with your critique of the situation.  However, I can say as a church goer that I’ve heard at least 3 sermons (if not more, I don’t really keep track) on this specific situation by using it as an example.  The first was that I remember was when I was in college in the late 90’s.  All of the themes of the sermons in one way or another could have been summarized in your final sentence.  Frankly, I’ve heard even less sermons on tithing (I only remember one) over those years (and I’ve generally gone to churches that are on the conservative side of the spectrum).

All to say, there are people like this and they need to be called out both from within and without of the church.  My experience is that the church (as well as other secular institutions) can be a great force in cultivating empathy and having an appropriate structure to call this type of behavior out so that people change.  My guess is that there are just as many “cheap atheists” as there are “cheap christians” percentage-wise that are stiffing their waitresses, they just probably do it for different reasons.  So I’m glad to hear the encouragement for non-believers to be cultivating these things within their own structures as well.  The world can always use more empathy and generosity no matter what the motivation.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: OpenCog: an integrative cognitive architecture

Previous entry: ETs: Experts predict we may discover them soon

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
Williams 119, Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford CT 06106 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376