Monday, February 23, 2009

City Homeless Shelter Now Operated By Church With Required Prayer

In Hammond, Indiana, a new arrangement between the city and First Baptist Church of Hammond raises interesting church-state issues. Yesterday's Munster (IN) Times reports that when the city-owned Calumet Area Warming Shelter was about to close, the city negotiated an arrangement with First Baptist Church for the church to operate the homeless shelter at church expense while the city retains ownership of the building. The Church is within walking distance of the shelter. Under new rules imposed by the Church, a resident must attend a specified number religious services offered by First Baptist, or church services elsewhere, in order to eat or stay at the shelter. Residents and shelter officials have somewhat different accounts of the number of services at which attendance is required. So far three people have been asked to leave the shelter for non-attendance (or leaving services early) since the Church began operating the shelter as part of its City Rescue Mission Ministry last December 31. [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]