Who gets to criticize?

By now, most of us are aware of the story of the person who stiffed the waitress at Applebees and left a note saying, “I give God 10 percent Why do you get 18?” and made a point of signing “Pastor” as part of her name. When the picture of what she wrote went viral, she contacted Applebee’s, identified herself as the person who stiffed the waitress (my phrase, not hers obviously) and demanded that the waitress and all the managers be fired for embarrassing! And Applebee’s actually fired the waitress!

The story involves some important details that are often ignored in the online ‘conversations’. This was a “large” party. An 18 percent (or higher) tip is automatically added in for parties larger than about six or eight, at many restaurants, including this one. That notice is posted in the menu so people see it before they order. In the age of computers, restaurants are happy to prepare separate checks for such groups. (A service that was NOT offered when I worked waiting tables.) So making an issue of whether an 18 percent tip is reasonable is a red herring.

I posted a link to the story on my Facebook page lamenting that, once again, someone claiming to be a Christian does something that makes us all look bad. The next thing I knew I was being taken to task by two Facebook friends (who happen to be relatives, otherwise they would not be Facebook friends) for Christian bashing. This is not an isolated incident. Whenever I take my fellow Christians to task for misbehavior these and other fundamentalist Christians accuse me of Christian bashing.

About Deb Conklin

Rev. Deb Conklin’s wheels are always turning. How can the church make the world a better place? How can it make Spokane better? Her passions are many, including social justice in the mainline tradition, emergence and the post-modern and missional church.

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  1. As much as I thought it was simplistic and overplayed, the acronym, “WWJD” seems really appropriate for the crowd that sees the story and the actions by this pastor as “Christian bashing”.

  2. Wow.

    A few things:

    1. I can’t believe the waitress was actually fired over this. It doesn’t seem like the type of thing that justifies termination. Suspension, maybe. I’m not saying it wasn’t an unwise choice to post it, but the reaction seemed a little extreme.

    2. I have a difficult time understanding the idea that it’s okay to behave badly if you’re a Christian, and when someone calls you on your bad behavior, you can claim “Christian bashing.” I’m with Sam on this one: WWJD? He challenged the most “religious” people for thinking so highly of their rules that it often got in the way of God’s work of compassion, such as caring for orphans and widows.

    3. What we do matters. I don’t think this can be emphasized enough. What does this incident say about Christians? Is it something that will inspire people to put their faith in Christ?

    4. Equating tithing to tipping a waitress? Interesting.

  3. It was bad enough that she stuffed the waitress, then add on the pious comment about tithing, but to call back and demand someone lose their livelihood? Where’s her humility, compassion, remorse, or FORGIVENESS?! Hiding behind her collar, so sad. Pretty sure Jesus would have been a good tipper. Look at how he ‘wasted’ that alabaster jar of nard…

  4. Lol. That should read ‘stiffed the waitress.’

  5. The Reverend Debra Conklin

    looks like I’m not the only UM pastor who felt called to criticize this ‘pastor’ for her reverse witness. Colleagues of mine in Bothell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxpPXO1gxVU

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