Federal Judge: Dallas Ministries Can Feed the Homeless Wherever They Damn Well Please

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It's been eight years since the Dallas City Council passed its homeless feeding ordinance, which barred charity groups from serving food except at certain designated sites. And it's been just more than six years since two of those groups, Big Heart Ministries and Rip Parker Memorial Homeless Ministry, sued the city in federal court over the ban.

The case ended today in a victory for the homeless and those who feed them. As the Morning News first reported, U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis ruled that the city's ordinance amounts to a violation of Big Heart's and Rip Parker Memorial's rights under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which bars state and local government a government from doing anything that might "substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion."

But the victory is a narrow one. The city's homeless feeding ordinance remains intact, except where it concerns the plaintiffs and, by extension, other groups who feel a religious duty to serve the underfed. Those of you who simply feel sorry for the unhoused, without the backing of religious conviction? Drop those plans to hand out sandwiches on a street corner. You're better off just volunteering at The Stewpot, unless, of course, you enjoy six-year legal battles.

"I'm totally blessed," Big Heart founder Don Hart told CBS 11. "It's been a great, great, great victory." He plans to resurrect his ministry on Easter Sunday.

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10 comments
ToServeMan
ToServeMan

I am all for feeding the homeless. The problem is that they start congregating where the feeding will be done and linger afterwards, leaving a mess and the stench of urine. Who wants to live downtown with their children, when you're constantly being harassed by homeless people? If these religious organizations really had a big heart, they would feed and house the homeless, near services that they desperately need for their mental and physical well being. Close to the County and VA hospitals. There is actually a simple solution to this dilemma that would help the congregations and ministries grow their coffers and attract new members. But they refuse to do anything new or outside the box. Too bad for the homeless and the downtown corridor.

titusgroan
titusgroan

This seems like going out of your way to kick a puppy.  Was this really a huge problem that required CIty intervention?

mikeallen1965
mikeallen1965

@ToServeMan Jerkoff! If you and your six- figure, yuppie family choose to live in a high-dollar residence in or near downtown, caveat emptor. Blaming the ministries who try to help homeless hungry people is your answer to this national and worldwide problem? These truly are the end of times with elitist scumbags like you breeding!

PepperoniCalzone
PepperoniCalzone

@titusgroan Stop by the main library on a Sunday after the big-hearted charity groups feed the homeless right outside. The homeless are so happy to have been fed they throw their food trash everywhere, and the charity groups pack up & go leaving the mess behind. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@titusgroan It's all part of City Hall's magical thinking.  If the homeless people aren't being fed where they can see them, then they no longer exist (to City Hall).

CraigT42
CraigT42

@titusgroan

Yes it is, because if conservative Christian groups prove that they can give assistance to the poor it takes business away from oversized wasteful government beuracracy.

titusgroan
titusgroan

But how does that problem get fixed by restricting where it can be done?

Edward
Edward

@CraigT42 It's a problem for the city because of the mess that's left behind. If they set up in front of your house (or in front of their own church) the attitude would probably be quite different.

wilme2
wilme2

@Edward @CraigT42 They have been known to do it in front of my house.  (Which for the record is a city park.)  And while I may get flamed for this - think of it like the issues with feeding stray cats.  Feed a few homeless guys in a park every day for a week - by the end of the week there are now a few dozen homeless now hanging out in the park every day at noon.  The mobile feeding stations can cause the homeless to relocate to be near those feeding stations.  And it becomes a NIMBY issue.

titusgroan
titusgroan

But the location doesn't address the mess - it just shifts it somewhere else.  The problem is still there, right?

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