Via Christdot: Orlando has cracked down on the homeless population-- and those that want to help them. The first arrest has been made under a new law disallowing people from feeding the homeless en masse ("feeding more than 25 people within a 2-mile radius of the capitol building, without a permit"). It's not just Orlando that has this law:
A week before Orlando's ordinance took effect, Las Vegas criminalized giving food to even a single transient in any city park.
In August, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit challenging the Las Vegas ban, saying it violated constitutional protections of free speech, right to assembly and right to practice one's religion. A federal court in Nevada has prohibited the city from enforcing the ordinance until a final ruling is issued.
Advocates for the homeless feared it wouldn't be long before other cities passed similar laws.
Already, the cities of Dallas, Fort Myers, Florida, Gainesville, Florida, Wilmington, North Carolina, and Atlanta have laws restricting or outright prohibiting the feeding of the homeless. In Fairfax County, Virginia, homemade meals and meals made in church kitchens may not be distributed to the homeless unless first approved by the county.
"We've seen cities going beyond punishing homeless people to punishing those trying to help them, even though it's clear that not enough resources are being dedicated to helping the homeless or the hungry," said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, a non-profit in Washington, D.C.
This law is an obvious affront to the most literal interpretation of "Feed my sheep". Taking care of the poor and homeless is one of the top "kingdom values" of God throughout Scripture- from the Law given to the Jews to the words of Jesus. Feeding the hungry is feeding Jesus. So why aren't more people speaking up? Why aren't more Christians speaking up?
There are a couple reasons I'm specifically being hard on Orlando: First, these articles are about Orlando. It's easier. Second, Orlando and the surrounding metro area is a international Christian ministry capital city. Campus Crusade for Christ and Wycliffe are headquartered there, just to name the obvious ones. With so many people in the community who have given their lives to the causes of God's kingdom, why has no one spoken up? Why did this law get passed? And why is the person who got arrested from a secular group rather than a Christian ministry? The man was doing what was right- what the Christians should be out doing. And they're not. And we're not.
That's because the ordinance, says Ben Markeson, who belongs to the group [Food Not Bombs], is based on a misguided premise.
City officials "think groups that share food with the homeless are attracting the homeless to downtown neighborhoods. But the homeless are already here. And they'll be here with or without the food."
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. - Deuteronomy 15:11
The poor you will always have with you...