Tipping in the Name of Jesus

(© Istockphoto/kizilkayaphotos )

Christians May have a reputation for being lousy tippers, but an emerging movement of anonymous yet ultra-generous givers is turning that stereotype on its head.

It began last September when the Instagram account for @tipsforjesus posted its first evidence of a large tip with a photo of a receipt for an $87.98 bill at Bar Louie in Ann Arbor, Mich. The tip was $3,000, and the receipt was simply signed “@tipsforjesus.”

The next day another image appeared on the account, this time of a waiter holding evidence of a $2,000 tip. Since then, more photos have followed of extravagant tips at restaurants in San Francisco, Chicago and Hollywood in amounts ranging from $500 to $10,000. The description on the Instagram profile, which has more than 70,000 followers, says, “Doing the Lord’s work, one tip at a time.”

Little was known about the identity of the anonymous tipper, though it was rumored to be former PayPal Vice President Jack Selby. But in February, San Francisco magazine ran an exclusive interview on the condition of maintaining the tipper’s anonymity that stated the Tips for Jesus movement includes about 10 tippers. And though the magazine said the interviewee described the movement as “agnostic” and with the intent of spreading “the gospel of extravagant giving,” it’s tough to distance the actions of those involved or inspired by @tipsforjesus from, well, Jesus.

An unaffiliated patron in an Illinois restaurant, for example, recently handed three waitresses a $5,000 check each and said, “God sent me here to help you.” A family dining in Tennessee left $1,075 for another waitress with a note that read, “Jesus blessed us and we were led to give it to you. God bless!”

To date, @tipsforjesus has left more than $130,000 in gratuities, while stories of other unrelated yet overtly Christian tippers continue to unfold.

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