The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 26, 2013

Mother says atheist group saved her Christmas

by James Bright
CNHI News Service

CHICKASHA, Okla. — A mother who claimed she was turned away from a church's toy giveaway because she wouldn't let volunteers hold her baby says her Christmas was saved by an Oklahoma atheist group.

Tiffany Wait said she, her husband and their 7-month-old baby went to Bible Baptist Church's Toy Shop on Christmas morning to get gifts for their child, but were met with animosity because Wait did not want to give her baby to the volunteers while she selected gifts.

"I am poor and would not be able to celebrate Christmas this year without their charity," she said. "I went last year and it was a life saver. This year, however, I was treated shockingly bad."

Wait said her baby doesn't like strangers and she'd prefer to be with him. She said the volunteer said it has to be done that way, or the family wouldn't be able to participate.

"I stood there, fighting back tears and asked, 'You would turn a baby away on Christmas?'" said Wait.

The volunteers held their ground, and according to Wait, one woman tried to forcibly take her child.

Eventually, a woman brought a toy out to Wait.

But Wait soon took to the internet, posting her story on various social media sites, and that is when Oklahoma Atheists' Director Red McCall and members of his group set out to save Christmas.

"We had several people donate things and send her money through a PayPal," said McCall.

Christmas is a secular holiday now, according to McCall. He said everyone deserves to have a happy holiday.

"The Christians turned my baby and I away, and a group of atheists showed us compassion, kindness, and charity," Wait said. "They brought us toys, dinner, gift cards, donated money and really saved our holiday."  

A member of Bible Baptist Church, Sheyla Clemmons, went by Wait’s house later that day to apologize.

"She brought us a bunch of Christmas stuff," said Wait. "She said they shouldn't have done that and that there are no 'rules.'"

Bible Baptist Head Pastor Tim Hayes said he and his church members attempted to go to Wait's house five times Christmas night, but were never able to get in touch with her. He said he intends to continue his efforts to contact her.

"I'm sure she has a very legitimate reason for feeling the way she does," said Hayes. "I regret what happened. We are certainly not in the business of creating that type of atmosphere on Christmas for any individual."

Hayes said he plans investigate the incident further.

Details for this story were reported by The Chickasha Express-Star in Chickasha, Okla.