Tuesday, September 3, 2013
What does the nationwide crackdown on homelessness say about us as a country?
Writing for The God Article website, Episcopal minister David R. Henson writes, “There is no longer a war on hunger in this country. There is no longer a war on poverty. There is a war on the hungry. There is a war on the poor.” He refers to an incident in Raleigh, NC, in which a free outdoor breakfast program for homeless people was suddenly shut down by the police, even though it had been in operation every weekend without incident for six years. Leaders of the nonprofit ministry, Love Wins, which provides pastoral care for marginalized people, were threatened with arrest if they went ahead and distributed the 100 sausage biscuits and coffee that a church had provided for the long line of people waiting for food that August morning. You can read about the incident here and a follow-up temporary solution here. David Henson says that cities all over the United States are enacting all sorts of ordinances and tactics targeting homeless people. “Cities have made it illegal to lie down. They have made it illegal to share a meal with people who are homeless. They have made it illegal to sit in parks or on benches for long periods of time. They have removed and banned park benches,” and tried to drive homeless people away in other ways. Henson writes:
“As a Christian, I know Jesus teaches us that we are to offer food to the hungry, to welcome the stranger, to give water to the thirsty—the least of these on the margins of society. But he goes much farther than that. He identifies with the least of these so much so that he says any time there is a hungry, thirsty, or ostracized person, that person is Christ himself. And if we don’t share our food, our water, or our welcome, then we are rejecting the incarnation of God in this world.”
Related: For more on this topic, see this article about a hungry homeless person who was given a citation for “disturbing a garbage can” where he was searching for food. See also another article by David Henson, showing how poor and homeless people are shamed and humiliated simply for being poor.