Pastor Blocked from Feeding Homeless for Lack of a 500 Dollar Permit

Steve KinsmanStarred Page By Steve Kinsman, 11th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/vnz88iaw/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Homelessness is more and more being seen as a crime in America, as municipalities seek to rid themselves of people forced to live on the streets. Where is our compassion?

Meet Pastor Wood

Rick Wood, pastor of The Lord's House of Prayer in Oneonata, Alabama, takes very seriously the command in Mathew 25:35-40: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me drink." This bit of scripture is emblazoned on the side of the truck he uses to dispense as many as 500 hot dogs and bottles of water to the the city of Birmingham's homeless on Saturday mornings.

Last month, however, Wood was prohibited from handing out any more food because he does not have a 500 dollar permit or a food truck. Birmingham are using a new ordinance passed in December, 2013, aimed at regulating food trucks, to prohibit him from continuing to feed the homeless.

Wood reacts

Wood said that he was "livid" that the city is seeking to shut down his activity, saying "This makes me so mad. These people are hungry. They're starving. They need help from people. They can't afford to buy something from a food truck," and he accused the city of Birmingham of wanting "to chase them out of the city."

According to a count conducted last year, there are 1,469 homeless people in Birmingham, which accounts for almost half the number of homeless in all of Alabama, and one third of the city's homeless, 509 people, had no shelter at all when the count was conducted.

Birmingham is just one of scores of municipalities who have or are attempting to shut down groups and programs which feed the homeless. Los Angeles is about to criminalize handing out meals to the homeless, and St. Louis, Raleigh, Philadelphia and Orlando have already implemented new restrictions on charity groups that feed them..

Wood is defiant and has vowed to continue to do what he's doing. "The homeless can't help the position they're in," he says. "They need help."

The culture of "uncaring"

There has arisen in this country a mean-spirited ethic that seeks to punish people for being poor. The proposed budget authored by Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is punishing in this regard.. It slashes 5.1 trillion dollars from the budget over ten years, with almost 90 percent of it coming off the backs of the poor. The budget expands tax breaks and subsidies for corporations and increases military spending.

Ryan thinks that to do things like extending unemployment benefits just make people lazy and unwilling to work, but he fails to understand that for every three unemployed people in our midst today, only one job is available. Ryan is simply clueless. People are always willing to work if the jobs are there for them.

Images and video from thinkprogress.org

Tags

Charity, Feeding The Homeless, Homeless, Homelessness, Hunger, Rick Wood, Steve Kinsman

Meet the author

author avatar Steve Kinsman
I live in California with my wife Carol, where I have been practicing professional astrology for 35 years. I write articles on astrology, but I enjoy writing on a variety of other subjects as well..

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Comments

author avatar Stella Mitchell
11th Apr 2014 (#)

This is truly shocking Steve !.
I wonder that some people can sleep in their comfortable beds at night when they enforce such heartless laws that affect the lives of others in such a diabolical and mean spirited way .
Many blessings to you and yours
Stella ><

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

There seems to be a mean-spirited ethic at work in this country these days that is very powerful. It is truly sad. Thanks for commenting Stella. I appreciate it.

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author avatar Donald Pennington
11th Apr 2014 (#)

I don't really have a problem with this for multiple reasons.

First, I've been made sick from bad food from a church while once homeless, myself. Their food safety program was to "pray over" their food.

Also, is he more scared of the local government or his imaginary "god?" If it were a choice between getting along with bureaucrats and keeping someone from truly starving, well, I'd have to make the best of jail.

But then again, I'm no christian.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Apr 2014 (#)

I do have a real problem with this Donald because I am in a ministry that ministers to the homeless. First, "imaginary God?" You make it quite obvious that you aren't a Christian and you will have to face that mistake when you stand before God on judgment day. When we pray over the food we give out we are thanking God for providing the food we are giving out. Scared of the local government? Pastor Rick Wood makes it quite clear that he plans to continue to feed the homeless regardless of being in violation of the permit ordinance. If you truly were homeless at one time, Donald, as you say you were, I would think you would be more supportive of people like Pastor Wood.

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author avatar Donald Pennington
14th Apr 2014 (#)

"You make it quite obvious that you aren't a Christian and you will have to face that mistake when you stand before God on judgment day."

Well I've never claimed here to be a christian. So I don't see where this revelation is so shocking. Asfor the threat of judgement by anyone's imaginary god, are you concerned with being tossed into Jahanna for not acknowledging Mohammad? Probably not.

I guess nobody noticed what I said about my choice, were I to be asked to choose between my comfort and keeping someone else from starving.

We all also know these food safety laws are in place for a reason. We KNOW this. So, come on. Why is this preacher unwilling to comply with food safety laws? A convenient excuse?

I'm a better man than he. I just don't play with the same imaginary friends. :-)

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

I'm no Christian either, but this guy was doing some good work and was not harming anyone.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
11th Apr 2014 (#)

I can't imagine a municipality can be so heartless. I also can't imagine this happening in the USA.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Imagine it, because it is. Thanks for commenting G.V. I appreciate it.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
11th Apr 2014 (#)

all I can say it is too fkin much...

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Too fkin much indeed.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Sad but true Steve, permits are an issue in every municipality.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Unfortunately, but if I want to give some food to a homeless person I should be allowed to do it. Thanks for your comment Jerry. I appreciate it.

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author avatar Donald Pennington
14th Apr 2014 (#)

Nobody stops you from giving some food to a homeless person. What they will do, however, is require you to comply with food safety laws, if you're offering to serve the general public.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Apr 2014 (#)

You are safe ding it on an individual bases, Steve, it is those of us who feen enmass that are being hassled.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Yikes! My fingers are rebelling. "Ding" was supposed to be "doing", "feen" was suppose to be "feed"

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Jerry, that is a downright shame. Does your group serving the needs of homeless folks have to go through a lot of bureaucratic hoops to perform your work?

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Apr 2014 (#)

More and more every day, Steve. One of the ways they get us is that we hold a church service in the park on Saturdays, our Church Without Walls, where we serve pizza to everyone that attends. The food isn't a problem because it comes from a nearby Pizza restaurant, but we have to buy a $60 permit each time to hold an event in a park.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

So am I correct in assuming the authorities are trying to discourage people from helping the homeless by requiring permits and fees?

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Yes Steve, but not so much the street patrol officers who have to enforce the laws but the fat cat business people who pressure the city into passing the ordinances. Most patrol officers, at least here in Colorado Springs, try to be helpful, at least whenever and wherever they can without jeopardizing their jobs.

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
12th Apr 2014 (#)

In the UK we have what is known as the Trestle Trust which operates Food Banks all over the country . The donated food goes to local warehouses which is then put in boxes allocated for single people , couples and families .Next, for those who need to receive them , they have to obtain a certificate saying they are eligible ...then we have check points , of which I run one in my Church once a week , whereby people in need can come and receive the food they require .That way everything is above board and thousands get the food they need every year . This year has seen a marked increase in the food being given out which shows the enormity of the situation . Not everyone is homeless , but their circumstances dictate their need.
I am very glad to be part of the solution Steve.
God bless you
Stella ><

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Apr 2014 (#)

We have similar food bank programs here, Stella, as well as what we call soup kitchens that serve hot meals to the homeless. They're called soup kitchen because when they first started serving the homeless in the early 1900s, that was all they served, soup and bread, today they serve full meals cafeteria style. As for everything being above board, what groups like Pastor Woods and my group are doing is above board and right in the sight of God and that's all that matter to us--man's laws are subordinate to God's and we are ready to accept the persecution from man for doing what God would have us do. Just as the disciples of Christ were persecuted in the early church, God's Word tells us that we will be persecuted today. Being fined or even jailed for violating a permit law is minor, some Christians in other countries are still tortured and killed for preaching the Good News.

Have a blessed weekend Stella.
Jerry

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
14th Apr 2014 (#)

Keep reaching out and doing God's will Jerry. I would never disagree with acts of kindness , and I am one hundred percent behind all who think of their fellow man with such unselfish , giving acts .
God bless you
Stella ><

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author avatar Connie McKinney
12th Apr 2014 (#)

This is so sad. This pastor is helping people who so desperately need help. Yet, the government is standing in his way. Where are our priorities?
Also, this article was very well done, Steve.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
12th Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you Connie. It is indeed very sad. Glad there are people like Jerry and Stella who are actively engaged.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Apr 2014 (#)

From the gov perspective -- food improperly cooked and making someone ill can be a problem. That is why we have inspectors and attempt to get everything above board. If the permit is for a year or something, I'd think $500 is not a bad tax write off for someone in the church who can afford it, or a special collection would probably fund it. If the $500 is per month or per situation, then I would agree that it's getting (more and more) ridiculous.
That said, I think you're also right that there are unscrupulous businessmen passing ordinances requiring higher and higher permit fees and more regulations in an effort to effectively ban the homeless from their cities. And most of them go to church on Sunday and think they're doing the right thing (which perhaps may only be the right thing for themselves).
However, until we viably figure out a way to stop the root of the problem(s) -- hunger, homelessness, unemployment -- IMHO we do little but put bandaids on bullet wounds. We need to do more in terms of mental health care -- so many PTSD affected soldiers are in the group of homeless and unemployed, and it has more to do with PTSD than finding jobs. So many issues. No easy solutions. And obviously people in charge have to WANT to do the right thing, and I'm not sure how to effect that change, either.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
16th Apr 2014 (#)

My blessing to taht humble Pastor and his initiative for the homeless, ti proves that the government whatever the level doesn't care to remedy this problem or take care of it! Indifeeence and obstruction to do so, how obedient was that cop that serve that notice to the Pastor, bastards alongthe municipality he serves, good job Steve!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
16th Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you Fern, and I agree with you.

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