This is the wrong direction, people!

With regard to my strong belief that Christians ought not expect the government to handle the mercy and justice aspects of the Church’s mission, I need to vent.  I came across a news item today providing information that just astounds me in it’s abject stupidity.

Churches forced to boot homeless
As temperatures fall and the economy crashes, 22 city churches have been told to stop providing beds for the homeless, advocates for the poor charged Friday.

“We will see hundreds of people who will not have a place to sleep. It’s antithetical to what the mayor talks about,” said Arnold Cohen, president of the Partnership for the Homeless, a nonprofit that serves as the middleman between the city and faith-based shelters.

The city recently began enforcing an often-overlooked rule that requires faith-based shelters to open five days a week, said Cohen who told a score of churches last month they no longer qualify to house the homeless.

The city Department of Homeless Services said these shelters – many that have been open three nights a week for decades – should never have been allowed to operate under terms of a contract with the Partnership.

Help me understand…please… why these volunteer-staffed, faith-based organization sponsored shelters that aren’t open 5 nights per week, but have been open 3 nights per week for years, they have to be closed?  When it’s below freezing outside? When they meet all reasonable heath and safety standards? When homelessness in New York City is climbing at a record rate?

If there is a bona fide reason for this, I’d love to hear it.  I searched for quite a while and couldn’t find documentation of this rule even actually existing.

My real question is, however, NY City Church… what are you going to do about it?  Are you going to let the arbitrary rule keep you from serving your neighbors in need?

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7 Responses to “This is the wrong direction, people!”

  1. Sara
    November 23, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    That is outrageous! Would they rather have the homeless freezing to death on their city streets instead of sleeping in volunteer-run church shelters? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

    I wonder if churches could pool their resources and volunteers to have fewer locations open more nights of the week.

    I pray they find a way to stand up to this and continue serving those in need.

  2. Kristen M.
    November 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm #

    I agree that this is ridiculous. It sounds like someone working for the city is on a power trip however they are making themselves look very stupid!

  3. fjohn68
    November 24, 2008 at 2:58 am #

    And, just ignore the principle of “separation of Church and State”. We have allowed the GOOFERMENT to exceed its logical bounds. The proper role of government is to “secure these rights”. Crime where there is a real victim. Commies and Nazis storming the beaches to enslave us. Frauds being perpetrated on the people by criminals. There there is a role for government. Everything else is a gigantic version of “scope creep”. And they are just creeps who will empower, HAVE empowered, themselves at our expense. Get out the pitchforks and torches. The monster has to be put back in the chains. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington

  4. patti
    November 24, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    I’m determined to find out the source, and maybe even the reasoning, behind this “5 or 0” rule – hoping some context will help it make sense (though it doesn’t help the homeless, now does it?).

    If the city closed all the faith-based shelters, I would call it a church/state issue, fjohn68. However, the only ones closed were those open fewer than 5 nights per week. That doesn’t scream religious bias at me. Though, it does scream, as Kristen pointed out as well, power trip.

  5. MB
    November 25, 2008 at 7:21 am #

    I would say “unbelievable”, however this type of action is happening with more and more frequency in our communities. I have also said for years that we (The Church) have allowed this to happen.

    So what will we do about it? I’m increasingly convinced that involving ourselves and our congregations in actively seeking justice is crucial to redeeming organized Christianity.


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