Seems a ministry is exorcizing their deeply held religious convictions that the homeless are the churches responsibility. Raleigh North Carolina police are taking issue with a ministry who take their faith seriously and helping to feed the homeless.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
So does one need a permit to exorcize their first amendment rights? The Raleigh North Carolina seems to think so.
Raleigh, N.C. — A spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department says a police officer was enforcing a city ordinance when he reportedly told, without explanation, a group of volunteers Saturday that they could be arrested for serving breakfast to the homeless.
Love Wins Ministries posted on its website Saturday that the officer approached them as they were preparing to pass out free coffee and sausage biscuits to more than 70 homeless people in downtown Raleigh.
“This morning we showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years,” the ministry’s pastor and director, Rev. Hugh Hollowell, wrote in a blog post. “Today, officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.”
Hollowell said the officers wouldn’t tell the group which ordinance they were violating, but simply told them they had to leave.
Sec. 9-2022 of the rules governing city parks prohibits the distribution of food without a permit.
Read The Rest: WRAL.com.
The Minster responds to the police in the following blog post
Feeding Homeless Apparently Illegal
On the morning of Saturday, August, 24, Love Wins showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years. We provide, without cost or obligation, hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to anyone who wants one. We keep this promise to our community in cooperation with five different, large suburban churches that help us with manpower and funding.
On that morning three officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.
Our partnering church brought 100 sausage biscuits and large amounts of coffee. We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.
In the past, we have had a good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department. We knew that we could not use the park itself, as doing so required a permit, but that it was acceptable to set up on the sidewalk, as long as we did not block the sidewalk and cleaned up after ourselves. We have operated, unmolested, under this assumption for the last six years.
By the way, each permit to use the park costs $800. Yes, eight hundred dollars. That would cost us $1,600 every weekend, and the officer we spoke to said the City likely wouldn’t approve it anyway.
No representative from the Raleigh Police Department was willing to tell us which ordinance we broke, or why, after six years and countless friendly and cooperative encounters with the Department, they are now preventing us from feeding hungry people.
When I asked the officer why, he said that he was not going to debate me. “I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail.”
What We Will Do