The atheist group has taken offense at the rebuff, but a local rescue mission defends its position.

“We are an unapologetically Christian organization, and we always have been,” said Julie Larocco, development officer for the Kansas City Rescue Mission. “We want to share the message with the people we serve that ‘God loves you, and you are not alone.’ It seemed to us that this (atheist) group probably would not want to deliver those meals.”

The Kansas City Rescue Mission dates to 1950 but began delivering holiday meals only two years ago.

The Atheist Coalition has been pleased to help and was looking forward to another year. But “Kansas City Rescue Mission has decided to use the meals they deliver as a chance to proselytize to its recipients by inserting religious literature into the meals,” Atheist Coalition President Josh Hyde posted Saturday on the group’s website.