Faux Christian Persecution: Food Bank Edition

Faux Christian persecution strikes again! In a totally reasonable move that protects the separation of church and state, the USDA, along with other federal agencies, issued a new regulation that bans organizations from mandating people participate in religious activities in order to receive food.

That sounds so…reasonable. Of course someone has to make a federal case out of it.

The Christian-based Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has decided the government does not have the right to dictate how it worships or how it gives out food to the homeless. As a result, they now refuse to accept food from the federal government.

Most of the USDA food, Wingate said, has been used in the organization’s homeless shelters and in food bags it gives out.

Bethesda Mission does not require people receiving food or shelter from the organization to pray or attend religious services.

Their decision to stop accepting USDA food was about principles, he said.

“We don’t force our faith on anybody else,” Wingate said. “But we find the whole idea that the government’s going to come in a tell us what we can and cannot do in our own facility to be out of bounds, especially in matters of faith.” (Source)

In other words, we could easily meet the requirements from the government, but doing that wouldn’t allow us to make a big deal out of nothing and get a lot of attention.



These regulations were implemented because of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” It would be easy to interpret giving food to an organization that requires prayer and/or other religious activities in order to receive food as a violation of this clause.

Wingate said he does not think it will be too difficult to fill in the 1,000 pounds it will no longer receive from the USDA. Losing the USDA food created more of an emotional impact, he said, than an impact on their ability to serve the public.

“The concern had to do with someone coming in from the government and telling us what we could and could not do in our own facility,” Wingate said. “That was unacceptable to us.”

Translation: We want to take from the government, but we don’t want there to be any strings attached.

All of this gets old after so many times. In the real world, a lot of charitable donations come with requirements or specifications, especially the larger ones. The organization either accepts those caveats or rejects the gift.

This instance is nothing more than a publicity stunt wrapped up in a bow of Christian persecution. Rather than make a minor change, such as having religious activities at a different time or location  from when people are given food, they would rather “take a stand” and make a huge issue out of nothing.

If you do not want someone telling you what you can and cannot do, then do not accept donations from them. It is truly that simple.

The constant wolf cry of “Christian persecution” no longer even registers. When it does, the first thought that comes to mind is, “What b.s. have they concocted for attention now?”

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