Misadventures of a local church

13 February 2015 07:00

Last night when I came home, I found a thick envelope sticking from the mail slot of my front door. It was addressed to me, but contrary to most mail I get, it had no stamp or postal mark. I didn’t need to open it to see who the sender was: a local church.

People who know me personally can easily tell you I’m not a very religious person. I’m not a member of any religion (I’m not even a baptized non-practitioner like many of my countrymen), nor do I feel the need to be. I could go on at length about this, but that’s not the point of this post.

Anyway, I opened the envelope, and found the following contents:

  • A letter explaining it was time for a certain donation drive. I think it was called Church Balance or something
  • A flyer regarding the donation drive
  • A return envelope, complete with instructions that they would come by my house to pick it up next Thursday
  • A pre-printed money transfer card (Acceptgiro) with my name and address on it

Okay, that was a bit weird. I wasn’t angry or offended, but I was definitely perplexed. The letter was addressed to me personally, and while the town I live in is considered small by Dutch standards, we have over twenty thousand people living here. A personally-addressed envelope, with pre-printed money transfer card, but no postage? That means someone had to actually walk/bike/drive to every single person addressed. I’m pretty sure they didn’t send these to everyone in the whole town, but why the hell did they send one to me? My best guess is they mixed me up with someone else. This whole ordeal let to two things:

  1. This tweet

https://twitter.com/JSteenbeeke/status/565974733087584256

  1. An e-mail to the church politely asking them to remove me from their administration

I’ve never actually set foot in their church as far as I can remember, nor do I intend to. There’s no point in them wasting paper on someone who won’t support their church, let alone having someone go over to my place twice when it probably wasn’t me they were looking for anyway.


I haven’t heard back from the church yet, but my tweet did spark a few interesting responses. The first was from a friend, who asked why it would matter if I were not a member. He gave an analogy of not having heart or lung conditions, but still being willing to donate to heart or lung research.

In my case, at least one of the following has to apply: 1) A charity has to be worthwhile or beneficial to society 2) I, or people I care about, have to have a stake in it

Seeing as I am non-religious, and have my issues with the whole principle of organized religion, #1 certainly isn’t the case, and as I already explained, I have nothing to do with said church, so #2 doesn’t apply either.

The analogy aside, the reason I mentioned not being a member was because it was a letter aimed at me directly. Your average charity drive doesn’t target people specifically unless they were at one point donors.

The second response was from one of my gaming buddies, who asked what being religious has to do with donations. You mean aside from being part of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam?

But I understand his point: donations are a good thing, whether you’re religious or not, and being religious is not a requirement for giving donations. But on the other hand: not being religious is a pretty good indicator that someone isn’t going to donate to a church.