Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Not Reading Enough

Palm Beach County in Florida has no shelter for the homeless, so Westgate Tabernacle Church, saying, "The purpose of the church is to help people who are hurting," began offering free meals and shelter for the homeless. Eventually the need became so great the church erected a large tent on their property in which men 55 years and younger sleep. Older men and all women sleep inside the church (in separate quarters, of course).

County officials, however, have taken a grim view of this situation and may end up fining the church $1,000 a day because their land is not "zoned" for such mission work, and they say sleeping in the tent is unsafe. The church has offered to erect their tent on any land the county provides, but the county will hear none of that.

What do you think? Is the church right to engage in this "civil disobedience" or should they bow to the authorities and find some other way to help the homeless?

Read the story first.

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SIGNS YOU MAY NOT BE READING YOUR BIBLE ENOUGH

You open it and have to blow the dust off the pages before you can read it.

You think Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was a hit song from the 70s.

You open to one of the Gospels and a World War II Savings Bond falls out.

You think the Old Testament exploits of Hercules were awesome.

A small family of woodchucks has taken up residence in the Psalms.

You get frustrated because you can't find *any* mention of Charlton Heston.

You fall for it each time the Pastor asks the congregation to turn to the Book of Second Opinions.

The kids have started asking too many questions about your bedtime story, "Jonah the Shepherd Boy and His Ark of Many Colors."

[selected from Mikey's Funnies]

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WORDS for YOUR WEEK: "In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy." (Karl Reiland)

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3 comments:

Lloyd said...

The church saw a need and they are trying to meet it. That is admirable. However, Mathew 21:22 teaches a hard lesson when it comes to dealing with the government. If it is within governments purview to do something we can not go against it unless the government is telling us to do something that is against the will of God. While you could argue that it is the will of God to provide shelter for the homeless, breaking the local law to provide that shelter is not acceptable. They need to find another way.

hucknjim said...

I could not disagree more with what lloyd said. By that logic, Martin Luther King Jr. would be dimly remembered only as a petty criminal rather than as one of the great men of my generation despite his flaws. Some laws are unjust. Resisting them is not only admirable but necessary. I would say that these zoning ordinances fall into that category. County officials need to get into some kind of public/private partnership to build or find a suitable structure for a real shelter. There is obviously a need, and the problem won't go away just because they make it against the law.

Mark said...

Ah, healthy and courteous debate. I love it!

I can think of a couple solutions. One would be - as hucknjim said - for the county and church to partner together to find a reasonable solution. The government is, indeed, tasked with the care of its citizens.

The other way would be for the Tabernacle to seek "faith-based initiative" funding from the federal government. It should be available to them since they are helping the community, and it would carry the added weight of giving them national sponsoring by the U.S. Government for the work, which may well trump the county's fines.

But then that opens up a whole 'nother discussion about States' rights.