… and their callousness.

Hugh Hollowell and other workers with “Love Wins” speak to a police officer who would not allow them to distribute food to the homeless. I was surprised, if not shocked, to learn that the city police in Raleigh, N. C., are now threatening to arrest persons who feed homeless people on the weekends. For more than six years, a terrific and caring group called Love Wins, led by Hugh Hollowell, have been providing breakfast biscuits and coffee for 70-80 homeless folk near Moore Square in downtown Raleigh. No other service provides food on the weekends.

The charitable group, working in partnership with volunteers from downtown churches, hasn’t been allowed to serve food in the square without an $800 permit per meal, but there was tacit permission to set up on a sidewalk across from the park, so long as they didn’t block the sidewalk and volunteers cleaned up.

I’ve delivered the biscuits and helped to serve them on Saturday mornings before. Love Wins has the operation down to a science. It doesn’t take long to pass out a hundred biscuits and show some love, and everything takes place before things get busy in town. 

But this week the police wouldn’t allow it. Following orders from someone up the chain, they threatened to arrest anyone who dared to hand a biscuit to a homeless person. Something’s rotten in Raleigh.

On the same day, I read that police in Columbia, S.C. have set up special patrols to look for homeless people who are loitering or breaking other “quality of life” laws in downtown Columbia, giving them a choice between going to jail or being shipped to a 240-bed homeless shelter on the outskirts of town, with a warning not to return.

More than 1,500 people live in Columbia, according to one estimate: a 240-bed shelter can’t hold them all. Is something rotten in Columbia, too?

Jesus taught thathowever we treat “the least of these” is what we do to him. In Raleigh and Columbia, it appears that Jesus isn’t being treated very well.

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