This has been met with the expected and understandable anger and protest from many of the city’s hunger-based non-profits and faith-based homeless ministries that participate in these outdoor feedings (the ban is still in process and has not been enforced yet). Some leading homeless advocates support it.
Many of these religious groups understandably feel like this move is an over-reach of cold, heartless government, trying to keep the church from doing its God-given call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Many have felt like this is an imposition on the religious freedom of the Christians of Philadelphia.
Channeling my inner stereotypical-broken-hearted-teenage girl, I went to WaWa last night to pick up some Ben & Jerry’s (Stephen Colbert’s “Americone Dream”, in case you were wondering. I’ve written before about the spiritual experiences both B&J have brought me.). I had just gotten off work and was about to head home, pig out, and catch up on some TV. I pulled in, got some gas, and then pulled up to the side of the actual store to get my ice cream.
I saw the usual “poor guy” sitting on the pavement on the side of the building asking everyone that passed by for their spare change. The usual little battle happened inside my mind: Oh God, I’m going to get asked for money aren’t I? Okay, what walking path can I take that keeps me just far enough away from him that he doesn’t actually ask me. I’d rather say nothing than have to say no and feel bad later. Ah! What am I thinking! Stop it, Paul! Why are you so heartless? This is not the Gospel. Serve him.