[Hpn] Mandatory prayer cost shelter USDA food FWD

Lucinda Houston lucy@efn.org
Tue, 12 Sep 2000 06:02:47 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: Lucinda Houston <lucy@efn.org>
To: Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 4:44 AM
Subject: Re: [Hpn] Mandatory prayer cost shelter USDA food FWD

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>
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>Date: Sunday, September 10, 2000 11:21 PM
>Subject: [Hpn] Mandatory prayer cost shelter USDA food FWD
>>Should government fund programs which require service recipients to pray?
>>Why or why not?
>>To "Reply To ALL" listmembers of Homeless People's Network (HPN),
>>FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Sep 08, 2000
>>     Photo Advisory  TNMEM102
>>MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ It may be beans and rice for awhile at a
>>homeless shelter where mandatory prayers have caught the attention
>>of government inspectors.
>>Because of the required praying, Memphis Union Mission is no
>>longer receiving the 10 tons of meat it has been getting annually
>>from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
>>But Terry Minton of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture said
>>the meat cutback ``isn't targeting religious activity.''
>>``If people are needy and they come into your agency and you
>>have our food to give them ... You can't make them do anything for
>>that food,'' Minton said.
>>The shelter, part of a citywide Christian ministry for the poor
>>and homeless, says the meat will cost some $50,000 a year to
>>replace. That will account for about a third of the ministry's
>>budget, which is financed primarily by private donations.
>>The shelter provided more than 166,000 free meals last year.
>>Religious services are mandatory before the meals are served three
>>times a day.
>>The Rev. Mark Calhoun, the mission's chief executive, said the
>>shelter has no intention of altering its practices.
>>``We won't change that. That's the reason we exist,'' Calhoun
>>said. ``We exist to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.''
>>Cheri Holcomb, Calhoun's assistant, said Friday that word of the
>>shelter losing its meat supply has encouraged many of the
>>ministry's supporters to increase their usual donations.
>>``I can't tell you how much yet. It hasn't all been counted, but
>>we've been overwhelmed with a wonderful response from the public,''
>>she said.
>>State inspectors, who oversee USDA programs in Tennessee,
>>noticed the mission's mandatory prayer rule during a routine
>>inspection in July.
>>Minton said the shelter can get back on the USDA meat program if
>>the religious services are made voluntary.
>>``It's simply that you cannot put any additional restrictions on
>>receiving the food,'' he said. ``You can't force people to work for
>>the food. You can't force them to attend any sort of classes or
>>counseling or religious services or budget classes.''
>>Many religious groups draw such USDA assistance. The Salvation
>>Army also runs a feeding program in Memphis.
>>``Prayer is not a requirement for any of the services provided
>>by the Salvation Army,'' said spokeswoman Alexa Robinson. ``Any
>>religious services that we have available, the participation is
>>strictly voluntary.''
>>Holcomb said the shelter expects to continue operating just the
>>way it has despite the reduction in government aid.
>>``We'll be here until Jesus comes,'' she said.
>>AP-CS-09-08-00 1712EDT
>>Received  Id AP100252D6DFFABA on Sep 10 2000 12:07
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