The other day I posted, on my Facebook page, a picture with the words: If our government is based on Christian values why then would we not want it to help the poor feed the hungry or heal the sick?
A “friend”, the same friend whose negativity forced me to stop sharing a lot of my ideas, the one whom I was mostly was talking about here and here, the one who leads the charge on trying to make me feel ashamed of myself on a regular basis, responded that churches should do it instead of the government.
Let’s forget for a second that it takes roughly $7 million, per US church, to do the same thing that programs like Food Stamps, TANF, and medicaid/medicare already do. And the fact that this means every church, even the tiny little dilapidated ones in very poor rural communities. And the fact that this only includes Christian churches. And the fact that leaving this to religious organization is just asinine because most of the people who work with them are volunteers who work for free and have regular day jobs as well. And the fact that these volunteers are simply too small in number to make sure every mouth in the US has some kind of food in it. There are still, even taking all of that out, a LOT of other hassles in the way…and most of them are based on the pick-and-choose values of “good Christians”.
Faith based food systems only give food, help, or succor if you pledge your soul to them
If you have never had to use a faith based food bank, soup kitchen, or gone begging to a church for a few dollars towards your rent, let me give you a description.
Christian organizations will refuse you food, help, and hospitality unless you promise them your immortal soul. This is so common that South Park even wrapped an entire episode around it in season one, episode eight, Starvin’ Marvin.
Essentially, you are held hostage, for a meal that costs your soul, and forced to hear the word of God. One place in Colorado would play a really dirty trick and not even let you eat until you agreed to be “saved” by giving your soul to Christ. You couldn’t avoid it by saying you were already saved either, you had to promise your soul to their God every time you ate or they wouldn’t feed you.
Because some time back someone decided that you can get a lot more souls for God if you lure in the weak, ill, downtrodden, and desperate, with food, you can then ransom that food in exchange for more followers and look even more benevolent.
For those who do not believe in an immortal soul, or don’t view the idea of dedicating your eternal life force to something you don’t believe in as a big deal, this doesn’t seem like a problem.
But for me, and others like me, it is a HUGE problem. For me, they are asking that I simply give up on a journey that has taken me years to even start on. They are asking that I give them something more precious than anything else I have to give. They are literally asking for my soul in exchange for a few scoops of beans and rice…but my refusal makes me the bad person in their view.
Of course, there’s also…
Giving to the poor is illegal nearly everywhere
Did you know that it’s nearly impossible for anyone to offer food to anyone else without risking arrest or going through thousands of outrageous regulations specifically designed to keep you from giving?
Yes, I just said that it is totally illegal to take a big pot of beans and rice out to a park and start handing it out until it’s gone. You aren’t selling it, you’re just giving it away. In a lot of places, taking someone into a McDonald’s and buying them a burger is considered illegal. Buying food in a restaurant and handing it to a homeless person outside is illegal too. Oh, and being a homeless person is also illegal.
And then, let’s get into panhandling…after all, how do you know who to help unless they ask? Panhandling is illegal, in some way, everywhere in the US. I should know, I’ve panhandled nearly everywhere in the US. Several Florida (my home state) counties, Orange county for example, where Disney World lives, require you to obtain a license to panhandle. Others have outright banned it entirely.
Because, supposedly, allowing it just encourages them to keep being lazy. After all, we have been trained to see the poor, desperate, and homeless as something to shame and humiliate. So when circumstances end up putting you in that same position you feel ashamed because you were already taught that being poor is shameful. This way of thinking is so prevalent that even though my husband and I have been poor for a long time now, he still sees the poor as lazy.
Faith based charities can pick and choose how you are allowed to spend your money (and refuse to help you if they don’t like it)
Story time kiddies. When we lived in Kentucky my husband ended up losing his job after he was injured. Yes, this is illegal, yes we are suing, no it hasn’t been resolved yet. We struggled and struggled to scrape up money for each month’s rent but we eventually ended up short one or two months. Our landlord (such a “good Christian” that he almost refused to rent to our homeless family because two of our kids are from a previous relationship) told us about a community charity that would help us with a month’s rent if we needed it; more if we qualified.
OK, I’ll try it. We both had to come for the appointment, which would take all day. I lost a day’s pay to get an appointment only on their terms and not around my work schedule. We hauled over all of our pay stubs, a copy of our monthly bills for lights etc, the approval letter from the Food Stamp office to prove we were already getting indigent support, and a balance statement from our bank.
The end result?
We walked out of the interview.
You see, to decide if you were eligible for aid or not, you had to meet their guidelines.
To see if you meet the guidelines, they ask you questions about your lifestyle.
Some of the questions they asked us included:
Do I use pads or tampons?
How often I change my tampons and the brand I use
Birth control methods, how sexually active our kids were (our answer of “not at all” was called a lie to our faces), what their method of birth control was, are my tubes tied yet, if not then why was I choosing to be so irresponsible
How often we bathe, how much soap we use when we bathe, which brand of soap do we use, why that one and not one that’s cheaper and in bar form, what brand of shampoo do we use, and do we really think we should also be buying a luxury like conditioner if we are begging for money?
How much toilet paper we buy, how many squares we use at a time, what brand we use…the list just kept getting more and more disgustingly personal.
When I mentioned that they were getting a little too personal and that I was feeling really uncomfortable with the questions, they told us flat out that I had to prove we were poor enough to need help.
That was when they asked for our bank statement. I gave them the print out of our balance.
No, they said, they wanted to see the itemized version.
When I asked why the balance wasn’t good enough they told me that needed to see what we spent our money on. EXACTLY what we spent our money on.
I asked what they meant.
Apparently, THEY would decide if we needed help based on our spending, and only if our spending habits fell within their guidelines.
Meaning that those nights when I worked double shifts and spent $10 on pizza from Little Caesars for dinner instead of spending that same $10 at the grocery store…well, if we can afford to eat out then we don’t need help.
Grocery store debit is more than They think it should be…well, you must be buying name brand tampons and therefore don’t need help.
Your statement shows a cash withdrawal…you are automatically spending your money on drugs, not paying back a relative who lent you money.
Don’t shop at WalMart, too bad, it’s the only place they see as an acceptable place for poor people to spend money. Spent $5 on a bra on clearance at Rue 21, too bad, according to Them, shopping anywhere but WalMart means you are spending frivolously.
Donate $5 to a LGBTQ cause? Well, now you’re banned from ever asking them for money again…and they’ll send your name around to all the other churches so that they know too. After all, you have to uphold the quality of the community…like this church not far from where we were at the time who banned interracial couples was doing.
And it isn’t only this place either, loads of “Christian” community charities pass these kinds of judgments on people who come to them for help. Shaming you for being poor isn’t good enough, they have to break down every penny you spend and completely humiliate you before they even consider giving you anything.
Topping all of this off, as well, is the fact that if a Christian charity group finds out that you are not Christian, they will refuse to help you until you become Christian.
Apparently, having people faking being Christian is more important to them than following the doctrine set down by that long-haired, hippy guy they claim to like so much.
This is why it is so important to have a federally based system in place. Leaving it to agencies outside of government regulations means that hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people will end up being overlooked, refused, or otherwise discriminated against.
It’s not THAT bad, you say? Remind me sometime to tell you about living in Dandridge Tennessee and being harassed by child services for four years until they finally threatened to have our kids forcibly adopted into “good Christian” families if I didn’t agree to convert from Paganism to Christianity.
Of course, we could put some federal stuff in place to try to prevent it….then we’d need staff to oversee that…which would also need funding…so why not cut out the middle man and leave it in the hands of the government instead?
How about we cut the welfare that’s going to billion dollar corporations instead of cutting social service programs?