A homeless man sleeps beside a buildingThe Patapsco-Lodge Forest Cooperative Parish is no stranger to homeless outreach. However, they never imagined being punished for it. The Maryland congregation has been serving hot meals to the homeless every Friday night for over 20 years, and church officials allow the local homeless population to camp on church grounds. On any given night, around 20 people can be found sleeping in tents or under tarps outside the building. Evidently, county officials took issue with this arrangement – in early December they dropped a shocking $12,000 fine on the church for “illegal use of the property as housing units.”

Fined for Kindness

While some community members support the church’s commitment to Christian good will, others have become increasingly dismayed by its side effects. In fact, a nearby business owner got so fed up that he reported the church for “harboring vagrants”. The man explained that he frequently sees homeless people urinating and defecating on church property, within eyesight of his business. His complaint, along with a number of others, led county officials to issue the large fine.

According to church leaders, $12,000 constitutes roughly 10 percent of the church’s entire annual income. County officials argued the fine was reasonable because the church encampment was an unnecessary safety hazard. Because local shelters always have extra space, the church was not so much filling a need as diverting the homeless away better-developed assistance programs.

However, after several news outlets picked up the story, the community quickly sided with the church.  Under considerable public pressure, county officials were forced to reconsider their decision. The week before Christmas, church leaders were pleased to hear that the fine had been formally rescinded.

Is There a Bigger Problem?

Interestingly, this story reinforces a report from the National Law Center showing that anti-homeless laws are on the rise. Over the last 10 years, local governments all over the country have begun penalizing homelessness with increasing severity. In certain urban areas, such as Seattle and San Francisco, homeless policy has become a hot-button political issue. One side stresses the importance of compassion when dealing with individuals who are down on their luck and just trying to get by, while the other side thinks the government should crack down by more strictly enforcing the law.

Homeless camp in Honolulu

A homeless camp lines the bank of a canal in Honolulu.

Hawaiian Solution

In certain places, an even more extreme approach has been taken. It may surprise you to learn that the Hawaiian city of Honolulu currently has some of the toughest homeless policies in the entire country. Just a few years ago, Honolulu was dealing with a full-on homeless crisis. Thousands of people could be found sleeping on benches and in public parks near the famous Waikiki beach. Fearing that the city’s lucrative tourism industry would begin to suffer, Mayor Kirk Caldwell instituted a set of strict measures; the city banned all camping in public areas and in vehicles, and completely outlawed panhandling. The mayor explained his thinking:

“We are the Aloha State for our residents and for our visitors, but I don’t want to be the Aloha State for our homeless. I want our homeless to feel the tough love and to seek shelter.”

The results? Cosmetically, the policies have been a success. Public areas are no longer swarming with homeless people, and the city’s large encampments have been disbanded. However, critics point out that the underlying problem hasn’t been solved. While Honolulu’s homeless population no longer frequents the main stretches and tourist areas, it’s not like they’ve gone away – most have just moved to the outskirts of town or into the hills above the city. Critics say that this policy of “criminalizing” homelessness only further isolates them and makes the already-difficult task of getting reintegrated into society nearly impossible.

The Role of the Church

A sign instructing people not to feed the homeless.While most churches don’t have encampments, many operate other volunteer programs, such as serving food to the homeless. However, even this seemingly-harmless act of charity has come under fire. In fact, citing concerns over safety and loitering, over 70 cities throughout the U.S. have officially made it illegal to feed the homeless within city limits. This has left some churches in a tough spot – they want to feed the hungry, but doing so is now forbidden by the local government.

Moving Forward

The search continues for a viable solution to the homelessness issue. It seems that many places have run out of patience, and have begun resorting to tougher tactics. What do you think about this so-called “criminalization” of homelessness? Should churches be allowed to provide services like meals and shelter to the homeless, or is the government right to step in and intervene?

 

41 comments

  1. MG"4"B ∞ Möbius says:

    The government should be fined. Of the people by the people for the people is a lie.

    1. hsabin says:

      What if one of the homeless creates a crime and attacks homeowners – then who is right or wrong? IS the city or church to blame or both? What about the urination and defecation done? Where is that being done? Is there a portapotty close by? Lots of questions arise as to the safety and security of EVERYONE involved. Can YOU answer them?

      1. Dreamsinger says:

        I can. But as long as folks see homeless people in that argument — as criminals, or disgusting monsters — then it doesn’t matter what my experience as a homeless person in the Bible Belt could tell you.

        Homeless people don’t want to be living on the street any more than you want them around. Unfortunately, as long as every means to get themselves off the streets is criminalized, the problem’s not going to go away. If nothing is changed on our end, nothing is going to change on theirs.

        This isn’t a Christian-only issue. It’s an American society issue.

      2. michele says:

        I lost my home because I ‘helped’ – and suffered several years of abuse while believing I could help and make a difference. There are predators among the homeless. A sweet girl was murdered and mutilated by homeless men. A homeless man that I ‘helped’ locked me out of my apt. He destroyed things that were precious to me. He beat me in the head. This all occurred in one day. He is now in jail for setting fire to a tent with another homeless man in it.
        There are people who are homeless by choice. I thought this was a ridiculous statement once upon a time.
        Two choices – donate to a place who knows how to help those who want help — give to panhandlers who you don’t care what they do with the money you give…
        (p.s. I have been homeless – after losing my apt when the abusive homeless man I thought I could help told my neighbors he would burn down the building if they called the police if they heard me scream while he beat me.

        1. michele says:

          I continue to pray. . .
          Every place that has given the homeless in my area a place to put their tents has ended up with people murdered –
          I used to call myself, “little Miss Give Peace A Chance”
          (perhaps naïve)
          I will continue to believe
          Faith as big as a mustard seed
          Know my limitations

          1. minister Russell says:

            Yes I guess “taking care of your fellow man” falls short as far as the government is concerned.

    2. Bill galloway ULC Minister says:

      They are arresting the volunteers that are feeding the homeless in Tampa Florida because they do not have a permit to do anything on public property. They are feeding on the edge of a public city park.

    3. Patrick J. Neary, Ret. Lt., U.S.A. says:

      I think our government can be very non-understanding to the plights of the down-and-out, homeless, people! There are too many senseless laws governing us!!! God only gave us 10 laws! I would disobey the law,…and help the homeless any way possible! It’s these sanctimonious, rich, elected officials,…who snub their noses at the poor, etc. Our elected officials should be held to a higher standard,…and live by good example, etc. We are supposed to be a Godly country,…and, according to Sacred Scriptures, we are all brothers and sisters,…from God! Let’s act the part!!! I don’t always obey non-biblically related, man made. laws! And, I don’t feel any bit bad by that fact, either!

  2. Linda weeks says:

    I don’t see that anything done by churches, so far, has put a dent in the situation. individuals and families have been helped, but no real solutions.
    The difficulty in finding a solution is probably because individuals are unique and their situations are dynamic and constantly changing. Since individuals must be responsible for their own decisions, in not sure there is an answer that can apply to all.
    I have a couple of ideas, but would like to hear what others have to say.

    1. Brother Tim says:

      If we received our fair share of God’s gift to us (which is the natural resources of this planet) there would be no poverty and our refusal to see this is a crime against God. The wealthy have no right to all of the resources and to support slavery the way we do is also a crime against God. To be held in economic slavery is still slavery no matter how its presented to you. Until we grow up and let everyone share in Gods plan ( the natural resources of the planet) we will be forever slaves. Haven’t we learned anything in the last 2000 years? Jesus healed for free,Why can’t you Vote for freedom?

      1. Dreamsinger says:

        Because the freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is God’s gift to Man. Why vote “for” something you already have within yourself, when doing so runs a greater risk of having someone else vote “against” your ability to use it?

        You don’t vote for freedom. You live and breathe it, and sometimes you have to fight for it through living by example. Sure, you may get thrown in prison or killed for doing so, but if Jesus could handle it without complaining, then who are we mortals to wring our hands in fear?

  3. Rich Calton says:

    The idea that tending / ministering to the poor and needy is a crime seems to fly in the face of separation of church and state. At any rate it should be a crime for the government to interfere with charity.

  4. Reverend Don says:

    While at a dog park the other day, I spoke with a homeless man. When I asked, he told me that he had been homeless for 10-1/2 years and lived in a tent in a camp in the woods. I was surprised that he admitted the length of time. Said he became homeless when his daughter died. He was seemingly alcoholic and ok with his situation. Here in S.Florida, the cops let em live in the woods, check on em now and then and leave them be. Food pantries offer some meal help, as do local churches. I understand the issue of churches helping the homeless, as well as that of business owners whose customers can always choose to shop where people aren’t defecating in public. It is complicated and going to get worse as time goes on. There is no easy solution, but seems that there should have been some dialogue before fining the church $12,000.

  5. Reverend Krystina Szabo says:

    For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you gave me shelter. Whatever you have done for these, so have you done for me. (paraphrasing). With the ChristoFascists screaming for their “rights” to demean others, they also legislate against the rights of fellow citizens/TrueChristians to be Good Samaritans. Jesus Christ (the ‘Christ’ in “Christian”) said: “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is EQUALLY IMPORTANT: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself…'” (Matt. 22:37-39 NLT).
    Such hypocrisy. It is the responsibility of a government to care for its citizens who are poor, marginalized, minorities, sick, mistreated. Otherwise, the strong and rich and majority will take over anyways–why not just have warlords–like in The D. R. C? (Congo) That’s the Malthusian “natural” way of things. It is untenable and immoral. And yet that is what is to come, it seems. You cannot just “get rid” of the poor and poor in spirit by starving and freezing them. There will always be those at the edge of society–and, but for the Grace of God, there go we ALL. It is as with the disabled who have to fight so hard for their rights–did each of us not realize that we could become disabled in a second? It is as with people who are sick but do not have the money/insurance to pay–did each of us not realize that we could develop an illness for which we cannot pay the treatment, even WITH insurance, unless we are wealthy?
    The meanness of the Republican party, in which a prebirth foetus is infinitely valuable, but after birth, children do not deserve to be loved, enough nutritious food, early childhood education, safe housing, or any other supports is just sick. –“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is”..Sister Jean Chitister–
    “Prolife” and “prodeath penalty” are mutually exclusive. Former Superconservate Supreme Court Justice Scalia: “Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.” Really? There’s no reason not to kill an innocent person, if legal channels were “proper?” Why am I getting political here? Because it is, for the most part, Republicans who stir up this vituperation at “the least of these,” often using the “bad for business” mantra that is so popular in FASCISM. Leviticus 19: 33-35 : “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
    Although I am an interfaith minister, it is the so-called Christian Religious Conservatives in the U.S. who help to create the homeless, the disenfranchised (unable to vote), the dead through lack of health care, and THE POOR by their UNChristian principles. [Fascism definition: “an economic system in which the power elite, variously termed oligarchy, plutocracy, cabal, or ruling class, employ the police power of the State to enforce the economic domination of privately owned cartels and corporations, industrial and financial; a militaristic regime that exalts nation above the individual, the rich above the poor, uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition,” etc….] THEN they disdain these people, and cast them aside like dogs. Don’t feed the BUMS? These are human beings. Shame shame shame. We who are ministers, of EVERY faith, have THE moral obligation to care for others, and to preach that we must care for others. And we must lead by example.

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      Please forgive me, Rev. Szabo, but this is not merely a “Republican” problem nor a “Democrat” problem. There are over 320 million Americans in the country, and many aren’t even old enough to vote, let alone know what the terms mean. Others, like myself, grew to understand that siding with the lesser evil is still siding with evil, and walked away from the process of empowering such a losing battle.

      Some choose to do nothing, because they fear retaliation by their family, their neighbors, their coworkers, their churches, even the police, if they stood up and did the right thing. So many choose that option, because it’s easier to go along to get along. Sure, they gain money and a life, but what ends does that achieve?

      Others choose to do so anonymously, quietly, without seeking reward or notoriety. They do it because they know what it’s like to be cold, hungry, sick, or go without. They do it because it means more to them than if it was preached on the morning news. There’s no way to know how many these folks are, because that’s the point — you’re not supposed to know. That’s the Rules.

      Still, a few believe they have nothing to offer as help, since they don’t have money or this or that to give. Tithing is useless when the churches have the money to change the world but hoard it in the minister’s piggy bank (i.e. Joel Osteen). That’s why I don’t tithe. I don’t believe money will change a thing… but time, sweat, and muscle can.

      The blame game of politics needs to end. People acquire many labels every day, from the moment of conception… but in the end, we all die with the same label: human.

      We’re all in this together.

    2. Minister Amy says:

      I completely agree with your thoughts. Well said.

    3. Tom says:

      i agree…it is the height of hypocrisy to force births by rejecting abortion, and then refuse to take care of the children…people who are smarter than i am have to figure out how to cut back capitalism and use degrees of socialism to spread the wealth of life more evenly among everyone…this will be somewhat more enabled by having all land-owners pay real estate taxes, regardless of religion, 501(c)3, etc…this has to start with parents and schools emphasizing to the children that there is nothing more important than caring about everyone…this absurd super-concentration on math and science in schools (which is not working here anyway, as the standing of America in learning keeps plunging) must give way to caring about all humanity…technology and the abdicating of teaching love and ethics is leading to a world where everything is games and pretend media friends…it is very sad

    4. Brother Tim says:

      There are no Christian Conservatives, there are only people who try and divide those really trying to be Christians. There are few Christians anyway. Just because you read or have read the Bible does not make you a Christian / Muslim. To be Christian / Muslim is a way of life not a fad. If you do anything that harms your brother or sister by whatever means like voting or supporting laws that are only good for a few you are not Christian / Muslim. Real Christians / Muslims do not vote because to vote is to be judgemental and you know how God dislikes anyone being judgemental and rightly so. We are suppose to do right by our brothers and sisters and shouldn’t need or have to vote for the rights of others. You can also see there are few Christians and Muslims because if there were a lot of them, the world would not be in the shape its in we would have heaven on earth as it should be. The meek shall inherit the earth which are the true believers of God. Of course it might be a little radiated by this point in time

      1. Dreamsinger says:

        To choose is easy. To commit to that choice is the hard part. And therein lies the double-edged sword of free will: just because you can, doesn’t mean you automatically will.

      2. Reverend Krystina Szabo says:

        There is a difference between “being judgmental” and voting. One of the GIFTS of the HOLY SPIRIT is that of DISCERNMENT (1 Corinthians 12). God DOES want you to be able to judge good from evil. Voting is our voice. You say we “shouldn’t need or have to vote for the rights of others.” However, we live in an imperfect world, where the rights of human beings are sometimes curtailed. So we must vote FOR the rights of our brothers and sisters. For the rights of the black people, the female people, the young people, the LGBTQ people, the elderly people, the disabled people, the mentally ill people, the physically ill people, the working people, the country people, the poor people, the city people, the religious people, the humanistic people, etc. etc…. There will always be a need to fight for the Rights of People, because there will ALWAYS be a pull to TAKE AWAY the RIGHTS of People. We are not all created the SAME. Just created EQUAL.

  6. shiningwolf9 says:

    Any religion or spiritual practice should be able to promote and implement the belief and higher teaching of helping and enabling those less fortunate. Politics uses religion when it is convenient for a particular political theory or system. When will the majority of humanity wake up?

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      When humanity chooses to do so, of its own Free Will.

      God’s greatest gift is Man’s worst curse, as neither can truly control it.

  7. Dreamsinger says:

    I keep hearing, all day, every day, that America is a Christian nation. And I keep hearing, all day, every day, that Christians are about charity and helping the disabled, vulnerable and homeless. Plus I keep hearing, all day, every day, that Christians know the Bible better than anyone else and that the rest of the country should just STFU and stop holding them accountable for pushing local and state governments to enact ordinances that criminalize the homeless.

    Hey, Christians said they’re the ones in charge of a secular republic… so yes, the Christians get full blame on this one, because the buck stops with them.

    Praying to God ain’t helping any more than ignoring the problem does. A lot of homeless people are the folks that Christians sent to fight in the Middle East for the past 15 years. That’s right folks… it ain’t you getting shot at, injured, killed, or worse, so it ain’t your problem because you’re a Christian and a patriot, by gosh! There’s no official count as to how many vets are homeless in this “Christian republic”, but if 22 homeless vets are committing suicide a day and the deaths don’t seem to stop I’d say it’s a lot more than you whitewash.

    Many other homeless people are victims of domestic abuse, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, trafficking, prostitution, and similar crimes against humanity (usually against women and kids, but also men and GLBTQ folks). So first they’ve escaped for their own self-protection, and now the “godly” Christians call them criminals for wanting to live.

    This isn’t just me being a pretentious idiot, folks.

    Two and a half years ago, I was one of the criminals in the third category, trying to survive in the “godly” Bible Belt. Thank you very frickin’ much, and thank God I was born a Pagan.

    If the only way you correct your mistakes is when the news media shames you for violating your own Biblical tenets, then your House is a hot mess and it needs fixing before coming after the Muslims, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Pagans and Wiccans, or anyone else!

    *takes a deep breath*

    My apologies if I was a it out of line in chewing out the Jesus folks. It’s still a bit of a sore spot in my heart.

    1. Reverend Krystina Szabo says:

      Preach it, Dreamsinger. Speak Truth to Power. I am sorry for what you have gone through.

  8. Rev says:

    People are not homeless for the fun of it, they are homeless for a reason. I wish these people that persecute them would take time out to imagine what it would be like if they were homeless. No money, no home, very low… if any, self esteem and still grieving for what made them homeless in the first place. The Governments that persecute them well…. they made them homeless in the FIRST PLACE!! because if there were enough facilities to help them, they wouldn’t be homeless.

    1. Rev Linda says:

      Thank you! My husband and I was homelss for eight months because we were forced out of our so called friends place. Came to S. Florida and they changed their mind. So there we are on the street. It was frightening because we were threatened by the other homeless people. I started listening to others and they liked being out there. It gave them power(so they think) to hurt and steal from others. Most of them had mental health issues. The police let them go or take them from the city and drop them off. They always came back. All of you have no idea what it is like to be homeless. Everyone looks down at you. How about up. I don’t have the solutions and don’t claim to be. The church where I slept had a portable toilet. And running water. And there was problems with drugs and drinking. I heard they were kicked out when some move up near. So I think there is a solution, just have to pray and be silent to hear the answers. They are here.

  9. Paul Robinson says:

    There are many things that need to be done to help people, such as helping them get proper ID so that they can get jobs. I know a homeless person that needs this help. One of the problems is that there will be more and more homeless in this country as it is more and more difficult to find gainful employment and an affordable place to live. The student loan situation is another part of this problem, as it means that many will be unable to afford a place to live and such as myself will not have retirement and also with a Masters degree in engineering are unable to afford to have heath coverage. Currently I have multiple teeth that need care, and I can’t afford a dentist. This was not the case a decade ago for me and many others as well.

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      Companies won’t hire you if you’re homeless (or have a permanent address of some sort, like a rental apartment or something involving a signed agreement). Additionally, getting a state-issued identification or driver’s license when you don’t have a permanent (or reliable) residence is next to impossible.

      Technically, you could do it if a shelter were able to provide the logistical means to do so. In many cases, they won’t do it because they’re shelters, not halfway houses… they’re not designed to operate that way. Salvation Army wasn’t the greatest place for me to get off the streets for a few days, and their case worker was contracted through a local psychiatric facility… which explained why a lot of the folks didn’t stay long, if they didn’t want to be doped up from medical abuse.

      Which brings me to one last food for thought. Salvation Army was the only shelter in North Florida that would accept my application for a bed, because no other shelter in the region accepts single males.

      That’s why a lot of us tend to kill ourselves, rather than continue to fight for our dignity as trafficking survivors. Some of us just happen to be a bit more stubborn, which is why I’m not one of them. That’s why I’d like to apologize if I might’ve been a little less diplomatic in my statement that the Church needs to figure out which side it’s on, because it’s doing a terrible job of playing both against the middle.

  10. Auntie Moira says:

    Imho, the city should have engaged the church with dialig first, explaining the ordinances and concerns. Then tried to work together to help the homeless, partner together to create a shelter, approve church housing, etc. Yes, poor shelter and lack of hygiene facilities should come to an end. I doubt a fine was the means to auch an ends.

    As for Hawaii or any other community, where do we think homeless people go when they are “evicted” from an area? It’s an island, this planet is an island.

    I believe in abundance, humanity as a whole is well off enough to share and help in order that and until each can help hirnself and eventually others.

    Let’s pay it forward.

    There but for grace go we.

  11. Frank Villari says:

    You cannot save the poor from themselves.

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      Really?

      I recall a certain nuerosurgeon who was born poor, and is now slated to run HUD.

      Just because the poor are down, doesn’t mean they’re out. I was homeless over two years ago. And I made a choice to focus on clawing my way back.

      Like Robert Kiyosaki, I didn’t accept defeat from naysayers. Poor people don’t need saving. What they need is a helping hand UP, not a handout, and criminalizing every possible way of do that is crueler than what living on the streets does to you by itself.

      I made it off the streets, and I’m not the only one. I’ve been poor, and I’m not the only one.

      And I am thankful I never knew the greater suffering of being wealthy. It ain’t money that’s the root of all evil, it’s the love of it.

      Remember that, next time you tithe.

      1. rabbi jim says:

        rabbi jim here: From my point of view, the problem with being homeless is in securing a place to live. I too was homeless for a couple of years in Florida. Now, I was retired and drawing Social Security, so, I had a regular secure income. I belonged to a gym and kept myself very tidy and physically clean. I maintained my good mannerism and respect for others. I am a very good citizen – crime free, drug and alcohol free, smoke free, and highly respectful to all. Yet, I could not secure a place to live. I sought assistance from all senior and government agencies to try to attain housing, and was turned away by each agency and told to find housing on my own. I am currently on some lists for HUD housing, but, the lists are a mile long and require years of waiting to be called. It’s very sad. I currently live with a family member in a situation I do not enjoy, but, I have no other choice but to return to the streets.
        I think the government needs to take control of housing in this country and strive to establish housing the homeless. Ordinary citizens are too paranoid these days to trust anyone they do not know. It is a truly sad situation that people cannot recognize the good in others anymore. Congratulations on securing housing.
        SHOLOM! May God our Father bless you and keep you secure!

        1. Dreamsinger says:

          Shalom and L’Chaim, Rabbi Jim. I learned a lot from my time in hell, so to speak; just hoping I can use that insight more wisely this time.

  12. Reverend Krystina Szabo says:

    The exception does not prove the rule. Just because one person survives and thrives and is able to get out of a less than ideal living situation does NOT mean it is the fault of everyone who CANNOT seem to rise out of their dilemma. I agree with the rabbi: It is indeed the responsibility of the government to care for its people. See my previous comment. Malthus was cruel. Have you ever checked out Jonathan Swift’s response, “A Modest Proposal?” i.e. let’s just eat the babies…. (Soilant Green is People!) I mean, really folks. We ARE responsible as a society, and as a nation, to care for the downtrodden. Period. Without a moral compass, what are we doing ministering to our flocks?

    1. Reverend Krystina Szabo says:

      And to the rabbi, and to everyone else who is housing insecure, I wish you the blessings of a home. And I pray that we find the compassion to help one another. Peace to you, too. May this next year be better than the last.

    2. Dreamsinger says:

      Reverend, the government is not a charity, nor is it altruistic. America’s government is of the people, for the people, and by the people; this means that the character of the American people is inevitably the nature of the American government.

      If you want the government involved in fixing the Church’s mess, get the Church out of it. Otherwise, the Church — and all religions — must surrender their tax-exempt status, in order to have say in how the government operates. Nobody can serve two masters.

      As for your question at the end… people are not sheep; have you ever actually watched those animals on a farm? No wonder so many Christians won’t stand up for others. C’mon, guys, you can do better than that. Otherwise, why even bother having a church?

  13. gsl2727 says:

    I am happy that the church fine was rescinded. Perhaps the church could house the people in a hall or classrooms if that have that on their property rather than on the lawn. It would be a short term solution. It would be great if, after taking care of the immediate need of shelter and food, the local government could provide social services to identify each persons problems and work towards a solution. Your article does not mention what the long term answer is here. Also, you would have thought that the town would have approached the church first before trying to slap a large fine on them.

  14. hsabin says:

    BROTHER TIM – DEFINE CHRISTIAN? CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN? UNTIL you do so, your statement has no meaning as you say, there are few Christians anyway. I think million in the US would dispute your words.

  15. Patricia Golson says:

    I feel that in most, Churches can offer a lot to those with little, but it can be a problem if the church is in community area and draws an influx of homeless that may increase drug or dangerous issues for that community. And should be addressed. This did happen in my home town community and issues of drugs and other dangers did increase causing problems in our community. I do think the church had the right ideas of helping others, but was not able to handle the whole of the issue for the community in a safe way. The church would bring a van and pick up homeless near that area and help them, but it drew a lot of extra homeless from all over town and the additional problems as well. I felt that they needed a larger plan for the way the intended to help and to try and gather in an area of town that would be safer for all. We had more break ins, drugs and harassment in a dense area near schools. They were forced to not pick up the homeless in our community and I hope over all that the church found a safe way to help the less fortunate without causing additional danger to the community.

  16. mikestarke2015 says:

    If a church is operating a kitchen feeding a large number of people it needs to pass health inspection requirements and be licensed. The poor deserve the same protections as the rest of us. There was a case in Utah not long ago where 50 people were hospitalized with food poisoning from a homeless shelter. The church ministering to the homeless campers can also provide restroom facilities so people aren’t forced to go in the open. All of these problems have solutions.

  17. William w. George says:

    Dosnt a church have the obligation to serve the community, and from time to time serv as a citidal aor safe have for the weary , lost and down trodden, the priest in charge should have set his foot down and told whom ever was complaining to go away and have a nice day ,.end of story . Your here to do GOD’s work , “do your job ” .there’s to much government and not enough GOD,
    If polition’s did there job’s this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place .Christ preach’s peace, love and understanding, . Where was it this day ..

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