Government intrusion on the faith-based community must stop

Star Parker
Conservative Opinion

Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education
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Churches and faith-based organizations often serve as lifelines for the most vulnerable members of society. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, church groups and other faith-based groups from as far away as Texas had members travel to Fort Myers, Florida to help feed residents devastated by the storm. So why, Straight Arrow News contributor Star Parker wonders, would anyone stop such groups from offering aid to those who need it? She says government intrusion on the faith-based community must stop.

One of those places of concerns is Casper, Wyoming. Recently, the Wyoming Rescue Mission sued the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the EEOC – and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, in order to protect themselves after federal officials threatened to retaliate over the ministry for refusing to hire a person who does not share in their faith. These are faith-based organizations, hello?

In 2020, the mission refused to hire a “self-proclaimed ‘non-Christian’” for a thrift store that’s associated with their job to serve the people in need. As they state, this is a role that is expected to teach the mission’s discipleship, the recovery program. The guests that are in the program, they want to help them spread the gospel and model Christ so that person can recover their life. That is the mission of the mission! So people that work in their thrift stores must agree with that mission.

As noted by their legal representation, last year they served:

  • 60,862 free meals to the public.
  • They provided 41,037 beds for men, women and children to get a good night’s sleep.
  • They offered 5,597 case management sessions.
  • And gave 1,208 thrift store vouchers for free clothing and essentials, worth over $39,000.

They’re serving their communities, those who are in need and it doesn’t matter what religion or faith that that person in need has…but it matters to the people providing the service because they want to spread the gospel.

Why get in their way? Why would anyone, let alone the government, want to interfere on the great work this mission and others around the country are doing? 

Ask any of the men, women, and children who slept in one of those 41 thousand beds to get a good night’s sleep, whether they thought this mission needed government intrusion to slow down their services was important. They got a good night’s sleep.

Yet this keeps happening over and over again in our nation. That government intrudes on the faith community that’s just trying to do their mission to serve those most at need.

When it comes to serving our communities and providing services and charity to those who are struggling, places of worship and faith-based organizations are on the frontlines every hour, every day. We saw this during Katrina, most of us are now praying for Florida going through a hurricane. When the private sector rose up, the churches. We saw this even at the start of the pandemic, when that government demanded that churches close their doors, they still wanted to serve those that were in crisis.

And just like then, too often we continue to see governments impede the work of charity.

One of those places of concerns is Casper, Wyoming. Recently, the Wyoming Rescue Mission sued the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the EEOC – and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services in order to protect themselves after federal officials threatened to retaliate over the ministry refusing to hire a person who does not share in their faith. These are faith-based organizations, hello?

In 2020, the mission refused to hire a “self-proclaimed ‘non-Christian’” for a thrift store that’s associated with their job to serve the people in need. As they state, this is a role that is expected to teach the mission’s discipleship, the recovery program. The guests that are in the program, they want to help them spread the gospel and model Christ so that that person can recover their life. That is the mission of the mission! So people that work in their thrift stores must agree with that mission.

As noted by their legal representation, last year they served:

  • 60,862 free meals to the public;
  • provided 41,037 beds for men, women, and children to get a good night’s sleep; 
  • They offered 5,597 case management sessions; 
  • And gave 1,208 thrift store vouchers for free clothing and essentials, worth over $39,000.

They’re serving their communities, those who are in need and it doesn’t matter what religion or faith that that person in need has ..but it matters to the people providing the service because they want to spread the gospel.

Why get in their way? Why would anyone, let alone the government, want to interfere on the great work this Mission and others around the country are doing? 

Ask any of the men, women, and children who slept in one of those 41 thousand beds to get a good night’s sleep, whether they thought this Mission needed government intrusion to slow down their services was important. They got a good night’s sleep.

Yet this keeps happening over and over again in our nation. That government intrudes on the faith community that’s just trying to do their mission to serve those most at need.

Earlier this year, an Oregon church had to sue its town over a new local ordinance that restricted the number of times they can give out free meals each week to those in need. 

Last year, the Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission was under attack when the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of a plaintiff who wasn’t hired by the Mission because he did not share their beliefs. Well, you have to wonder why these people go in there and say they don’t believe in what the mission is of the organization they now want to work for, anyway.

Going into the pandemic, Seattle had the third-largest homeless population in the U.S., trailing only New York and Los Angeles. You think they would be all for anyone that’s helping, and not sue them because they won’t hire certain people that don’t even believe in the mission.

The situation has only worsened since we saw the pandemic and its excessive government. With the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – HUD –  recently convening with local officials to establish a “housing command center” to combat this emerging crisis. But for HUD to try and handle this alone when we know that the people that are in these crises have other problems than housing, this is absurd. This is overreach of government.

Meanwhile, the Union Gospel Mission, they continue to serve Seattle’s homeless population. They’re going to continue their work even if they’re in court. They’re going to give food, shelter, addiction recovery, job placement, legal services. This is real work by real people. Government is definitely out of line to try and stop them or divert them from their mission.

Baylor University conducted a study a few years ago, in which they found that religious organizations provide more than half the emergency shelter for our homeless in our major cities across the country. They’re under attack.

With homelessness sharply increasing just this past summer, in great part due to the continuing rise of inflation thanks to Democrats and left-wingers, maybe it’s time that governments stop intervening. Maybe it’s time for us as a nation to say, “these folks do good work.” They’re doing great work. Maybe they’re helping too much for government to have to compete against them. And what needs to be done is to remove those barriers of government from…HUD or all the departments so that the faith community and the local communities can do their job. 

In the meantime, while others are shaking fists and pointing their fingers, churches and faith-based organizations will continue to remain steadfast, even if they’re in court. They’re going to continues to keep their arms open wide and their helping hands extended, to anyone from any background, from any religion, that has need.


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