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January 29, 2012


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Interesting. Glad to see real data in that Cornell study it refuting the stereotype. Barbara Ehrenreich had made the same claim about Christians being poor tippers on her book "Nickel and Dimed : On (Not) Getting By in America". I wonder if this is a common stereotype that started somewhere?

I was waiting for Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity to kick in but it never did. Until then one cannot come to any conclusion, whether positive, negative, OR neutral.

I think it's impossible for a restaurant to say for sure what sort of tippers Christians are.
The vast majority of Christians don't go around telling the server that they are Christians in the first place. My Christian friends and I are very poor, yet, on the rare occasion we eat out, we tip very generously, BECAUSE we're poor. We know what it's like to work miserable retail and server jobs, and how a generous tip can make someone's day. But, the server has no idea we're Christians, because it's not like we announce it. We simply show it by our actions: Tipping generously.

Right after Seminary, my first job was waiting tables in an Italian restaurant. Forgive me if this post is long.

The 'cheap Christian' stereotype was prevalent, and I cannot say whether it's true or not. There are a couple of ways this stereotype can be perpetuated:

a server sees the guests praying before their meal, assumes they will get tipped less, gives poor service, and then is indeed tipped less.

the guests order water instead of drinks. Then maybe split a meal. The server works the same, but the tip is based on the amount, and is lessened by the cheaper options ordered.

every server I know has a friend who received a tract that looked like a $20 but instead unfolded to say: "Your treasure is in heaven." Very few servers have received this tract, but almost everyone knows someone who did.

True or not, this stereotype is perpetuated. What I do believe is true, is that Christians are generally the best at the worst type of giving. Far more is given to building funds and parking lots than to missions and local communities.

I for one, love tipping. It's the only place where it is socially acceptable to give money that will directly go to the recipient. You can tip what is expected (15%-20%), but then above that you can give, give, give. It becomes the easiest way to do 'mission.'

It can also be a form of evangelism. If the server sees you praying, leave nothing less than 20%. If you're talking about the Lord when the server comes by, leave 25%. If you end up interacting with the server in some way, through conversation, or, God forbid, a tract, leave 30%.

And always remember, the difference between a decent tip and a great tip is usually just a couple of bucks.

That's not the only actual data quoted...

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

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) bent"

Amen to jonmyers comments

This is strictly another anecdotal comment, but my experience matched the popular saying. Many, many years ago one of my first jobs was waitressing at a busy mid-level restaurant, in a resort area. There were two groups of people that no one wanted to see - the after church crowd on Sundays, and the Amway convention people.

I cannot say for certain that the after church crowd were Christians, but they claimed that title and made sure we knew it. With an average bill of $15 for a table of two (told you it was long ago!) I was lucky to see a couple of quarters for my tip, and usually it was just a single quarter or nothing at all. The Sunday lunch rush made me virtually no money for very hard work. I did, however, make pretty decent money on the brunch crowd that came in a couple of hours earlier :)

What an interesting topic to do research on- people from different religious, ethnic or cultural backgrounds and how they express gratitude to those in the service industry. While so many places around the globe don't even believe in tipping at all, servers in this country rely heavily on tips because their salary is so low. But how did researchers conduct this? Would they hope that christians eating out at restaurants would have clear distinctions, like a cross necklace around their neck? Its impossible to tell whom of the clients are religious and who are not unless they outwardly explain their views to the server. But in my opinion an average of 17.3% for good service is plenty!

I am a pastor. I waited tables through both college and seminary. Average Christians are average tippers. After church Christians are below average tippers. While in seminary, everyone I worked with (at the restaurant) knew I was on staff at a church and in seminary. They'd regularly come to me with the various tracts they got rather than quality tips. I'd apologize, as that's about all I could do. But the reality was that after church Christian tips were sub-par, and those who leave tracts were the absolute worst. I'd guess tract tables averaged less than 5% on tips - where my average ran 15-18% most days.

So while there isn't hard data, just spend a few Sundays in a restaurant talking to the service staff and you'll have no doubts. Shame on you cheap Christians.

One of my "life verses" is Matthew 10:8 "You have been treated generously, so live generously." (The Message).

I used to always give the "standard" 15% tip to wait staff until 6 years ago when a friend of mine, who worked in a restaurant, told me how little some of the workers really earn because some people tip so poorly.

Since then, I've felt led to tip 20-25%.

I've been a pastor, and have also worked in a denominational capacity, for 14 years. I travel a lot and use a company credit card with our ministry's name on it. I feel much better about representing the name of Christ when I tip at 20-25%. But that's just me!

I worked in several restaurants over the years - though not in the last 8 years. I agree that you can't tell in general which customers are Christian. My (anecdotal) experience was also that if someone leaves religious material behind (tracts?) those tips are significantly less than average. And the after-church Sunday afternoon crowd was by FAR the worst tippers. I absolutely hated working Sunday mornings or afternoons. I would be busier than normal, and make less money.

Serving jobs are hard work and little hourly pay. Usually my hourly wage wasn't even enough to cover my income taxes. Checks were zero. On top of that, most servers pay taxes on 8% of their sales (no matter the actual tip amount), and are required to 'tip out' bartenders, bussers, hosts, etc, between 20-35% of their actual tips. So, a server receiving 10% or less tips are probably paying income taxes on money they are not actually earning.

I just today had a party, church group, come in for me to wait on them. There were 6 women. They all requested separate checks and were a bit rude. They were pushy and demanding too. They each paid with a credit card, one wanted her check split into 2 and pay w/ two credit cards, they got great service but did not tip accordingly. One tipped 25% on $10.00, but the rest nickle-dimed me. One even stiffed me. These are the type of people I consider hypocrites. They claim to be ones for Christ, but do not respect me enough to leave a decent tip. This is not the first time Christians have done this. In my opinion, they are worst tippers than blacks and hispanics. Why proclaim your Christianity if you can't act like a Christian? Practice what you preach, church goers. Don't take advantage of us servers, just treat us fairly.

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