Updated: Dec. 20 5:50 p.m. EST
An Illinois library has returned a $3,000 check donated by an atheist blogger, citing that he belongs to a “hate group.”
Hemant Mehta, a Naperville math teacher and author of the Friendly Atheist blog, decided to launch a fundraiser for the Morton Grove Public Library after a local veterans group pulled its funding for the Park District, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The vet group had decided to halt its donations to the district because a park board member refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s when Mehta was prompted to hold a fundraiser and donated $3,000 to the board, which rejected it, saying that it didn’t want to get “embroiled in a First Amendment dispute" and that it did not want to appear "sympathetic to," or show a perceived position for or against, "any particular political or religious cause," according to the Tribune.
The library was then also offered the money, which voted against accepting it as well.
Library Board Treasurer Catherine Peters referred to Mehta’s blog as a "hate group."
While Mehta told the paper that he’s “shock” over the library’s refusal to accept the donation, a number of organizations around the country –- both religious and secular –- have rebuffed generous gestures from atheist groups.
When Upstate Atheists, a Spartanburg, S.C., group that focuses on helping people in need, offered to help serve Thanksgiving at Spartanburg Soup Kitchen, the organization told them to take their helping hands elsewhere, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported in October.
The director said she would rather “resign” than have them volunteer at her organization.
Unwilling to get deterred, the atheist organization devised its own service project. The group collected $2,000 to buy socks, gloves, deodorant, toothpaste and antiseptic wipes and other items, to hand out to the homeless on an October afternoon right across the street from the organization that had rejected their efforts, according to the Christian Post.
"I was upset with the hateful remarks. It certainly wasn't necessary," Eve Brannon, president of Upstate Atheists, told the Christian Post. "However, it turned out well. Because we were turned away, we ended up being able to give the homeless care packages that they needed. The people in need are the ones who truly matter."
Correction: An earlier version of this story used the library and the Park District interchangeably.