Waiter's Phony $10 Tip Includes Religious Lesson

A $10 bill is a joyful sight for a server. But when one waiter went to retrieve such a note out from under a diner's plate recently, he reportedly noticed something curious. The tip it provided wasn't monetary, but took the form of advice. "SOME THINGS ARE BETTER THAN MONEY," it said on the back, "like your eternal salvation, that was brought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross."

The waiter, who makes $2.65 base pay an hour, didn't take well to getting so self-righteously stiffed. He posted photographs of the scene to the social newspaper Reddit, and wrote: "P.S. I have never been more atheist."

"That's not very christian like behavior..." wrote one commentator.

But while that behavior certainly isn't the rule among Christians, it also isn't necessarily an exception. One waiter complained about the proffering of fake scripture-laden bills as tips on the "Friendly Atheist" blog in January 2009.

These phony bills appeared at least as far back as the summer of 2006, at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Greensboro, N.C. One blogger tells of going to a restaurant then and speaking to a waitress who was on the verge of tears. The convention attendees had been atrocious with their tipping, she said, but very generous with Bible verses and phony money.

"She asked us if we knew what it felt like to pick up what you thought was a great tip, only to find out that it was not real, and that the patron had actually been a cheapskate, after she served them well?"

The idea that Christians are poor tippers apparently has been whispered in service circles for a long time. Many waiters try not work Sunday brunch, so as to avoid notoriously stingy churchgoers, claims Justin Wise, the director of a Lutheran ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Christians don't tip very well," he wrote for The Lutheran magazine in January 2009. "As a matter of fact, we're pretty cheap. What makes this worse is that we paint 'cheap' with a religious-sounding veneer and call it 'being a good steward.' Nothing like hiding behind the Bible to camouflage your stinginess."

One woman wrote back: "It was almost 100 percent true that the worst tips were on a check with a Bible verse or fish symbol."

This is a particularly uncomfortable phenomenon to face for a community that values generosity, justice and service.

"By leaving tracts and not tips, that person is saying to their waiter or waitress, 'You are not a person, but rather just a notch on my belt of evangelistic pride,' " explains Daniel Readle, a pastor at a Baptist church in Athens, Ga., on his blog "Christ and Culture."

An empirical study on this topic was conducted recently by Michael Lynn of Cornell University. He found that Christians are not in fact bad tippers; they gave an average of 17.3 percent for good service, well inside the 15 to 20 percent norm.

Only 13 percent of Christians left less than 15 percent for good service. That's a small minority of Christians, but still almost double the percentage of unaffiliated diners who left that amount, and over six times the percentage of Jewish diners.

So while it is statistically false to say that Christians are bad tippers, it is true that Christians are more likely to stiff their servers than people of other religious (or non-religious) bents.

Because of these penny-pinchers, waiters are more likely to give bad service to anyone who appears outwardly Christian, Lynn suggests, or to call in sick for the Sunday shift.

Some things may be better than money, like trust, fairness, and tolerance. But a decent tip to your server can go a long way toward those goals.

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I would take that phony bill to church and put it in the collection basket.

February 05 2013 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think cheaping out tips is so bad. The servers not only get paid less, they also have their paychecks taxed by the IRS as if they get at least 15% tips. Unless they are super organized and can provide a detailed, organized tip log they get screwed.

I get kind of irate at servers that treat me badly when i eat by myself (I'm female) and I leave a minimum tip and a note for that. As in, 'if you had treated me decently, you'd have hat a 20% tip because that is usually my standard tip" unless they are disdainful and ignore me.

And I am not going into the restaurant policy of a lot of places to demand an 18% tip. The group I usually eat out with pretty guarantee a 20% plus tip of the servers don't do the 'required gratuity", but some restaurants don't allow their servers to use judgement.

January 07 2012 at 11:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would love to have a percentage of these cheapskates' paychecks docked without their knowledge or consent and given to an islamic chairity, complete with a verse from the Koran included in their pay envelope.

January 06 2012 at 7:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not going to get into the argument of whether tipping is optional or not. I'm a server and I've been on the receiving end of a pamphlet--which was partnered with a tip. I'll just say that if Christians really want to witness and spread the Good News, passively leaving a piece of paper on the table or in the check presenter is pretty futile. I don't know any server who ever stopped to really read them. They just get tossed in the trash amongst the chaos of working in a restaurant. Honestly, I understand wanting to spread the message and convert, but ending your dining experience by suddenly dropping some scripture is just a waste of paper.

Also, I could care less about what religious or ethnic groups tip the best or worse. I've seen it all on both ends. Judge not.

January 06 2012 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been on the receiving end of these at least twice. One bill was to resemble a $100. I worked at a car wash. My Canadian girlfriend once got one and was completely puzzled. She's a stranger to Southern style evangelical proselytism. It's worth mentioning, I consider myself a christian but was still super pissed at this self-aggrandizing lesson on materialism. If I were a bit wiser I think I would have dressed them down publicly.

December 19 2011 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


December 19 2011 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's no cheap ********** of a customer like a Christian cheap **********. ******* self-righteous Christians. Annoying *******.

December 15 2011 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to FarNiente's comment


December 16 2011 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"The waiter, who makes $2.65 base pay an hour"

Yowza's... get a real job. People were making that kind of money 50 years ago.

December 15 2011 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Corey Mondello

Anyone ever hear of gays leaving any "pro-gay" tips instead of money? I didn't think so. See, when it comes to Christians, they always say "Oh there not "real" Christians, don't judge them all because of a few's actions". I always reply with the facts; Hitler was a Christian, did all of Germany and the Catholic Church have it wrong at that time? How about Constantine? How about the first settlers on North America, the Puritans who hunted down and killed Mormons and Quakers? ETC..... )

December 13 2011 at 8:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Corey Mondello's comment

I think we're talking here evangelical(?) vs a broader Christian nation. Just because someone's confession is Catholic doesn't mean the whole population of believers is equal to their morality or lack thereof. The idea here is to tell people about Jesus in a unique way. Obviously, a nice tip would have sent a better message like a real 10 clipped to the phony one.

December 16 2011 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I worked as a waiter for almost a year, if I received this a tip, needless to say my boss would have fired me.

December 12 2011 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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