Bill Maher's 'New Rule' for Restaurant Tipping: Give Money, Not Dogma

Another reminder that the gratuity line is for a tip, not your moral judgment.

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor. He has written for The Awl, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere.

When did restaurant receipts become the “new bully pulpit”?

It’s a question we’ve been asking in light of recent news stories about people using the gratuity line on a check as space for moral judgment instead of 20 percent of the bill after tax. And it’s a question Bill Maher asked as well on his Friday show in a “New Rule” segment that focused on food stamp cuts—which some Republicans have tried to justify with Bible quotes—and what he perceives as a trend of Christians shorting servers.

Maher mentions a “tip” left by a pastor that said, “I give God 10 percent, so why do you get 18?” And then there’s the fake $10 bill that’s left in lieu of a cash tip. On the front, it looks convincingly like hard cash. But the back preaches that some things are worth more than money, “like your eternal salvation that was bought and paid for by Jesus going to the cross.”

It all sounds to Maher like an excuse for servers to mess with diners' food in lewd ways.

But in actuality? Christians, as a demographic, appear to be reasonably generous with gratuities, leaving an average of 17.3 percent for good service, according to a study published earlier this year by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

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