No Sanctuary

A short perusal of the press releases on the LDS Newsroom web site demonstrates the Mormon Church’s commitment to humanitarian aid around the world. The organization’s quick response to areas devastated by floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., is well publicized and well known. The Church’s web site states,

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides relief and development projects for humanitarian purposes in countries all over the world. Projects operate without regard to the nationality or religion of the recipients.”

Yet even in the beneficent act of charitable relief things can go wrong. A surprising news story from Haiti appeared this week regarding the LDS Church’s local aid during Hurricane Tomas. In “No Sanctuary at This Church in Haitian Storm,” AOL News reports,

“LEOGANE, Haiti (Nov. 8 ) — The water in Haiti’s seaside town of Leogane rose to the doorsteps of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But if you’re local, and homeless, you needn’t have bothered coming here for help. Help is for Mormons only.”

According to AOL News, 1,500 people in the city were displaced by the hurricane and, though the LDS church building could safely shelter 200 people, the “church’s hurricane policy” is shelter for members only. Thus, 36 Mormons slept in the building, but they did not receive any food, water, or sleeping mats for their use.

“The church did not welcome non-Mormon community members, and did not extend much comfort to its own church family.”

Apparently it’s a pretty complicated process for local church leadership to gain permission to help non-Mormons. When asked what he would do if a group of non-Mormon disabled children needing shelter stood before him, the “adviser to the bishop” replied,

“‘I would have to ask at another level,’ Chrisner said. ‘There is a committee. Really, it’s a committee inside of some other committees. It goes through the bishop, then a committee process … then, there’s no way to know if it’s longer or shorter. I can’t tell you how long it would take for an answer.'”

[Wouldn’t you love to see this man’s interview followed by, “My name is Matthieu Chrisner, and I’m a Mormon”?]

The local Bishop told AOL News that no displaced people were being sheltered in the church building at all. Instead,

“The church volunteered its premises as a point of coordination for the Department of Civil Protection. He said the 36 people staying at his church were support staff for civil protection employees. People interviewed at the church denied that.”

Tanya Favery, one of the Mormons sheltered at the LDS church building, was thankful for a safe place to be but she wasn’t happy about the Church’s policy. She explained,

“The Bible said to open up to everyone. Jesus saved many lives in his ministry. A lot of people used to come to Jesus for help. He helped them.”

(For the LDS Church’s response to the AOL News article click here.)

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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45 Responses to No Sanctuary

  1. BobW says:

    I'm not sure what the point of this post is supposed to be. Mormons have repeatedly provided assistance to members and non-members alike in Haiti and elsewhere. Seven LDS chapels were used to provide assistance after the Haiti earthquake. It's one thing to dispute doctrine, but is it really necessary to try to find fault with everything the LDS Church does to the point of painting a picture that is actually the opposite of reality? LDS chapels around the world have been used to shelter members and non-members alike during times of crisis. The focus on this particular instance is misleading.

  2. arthursido says:

    The issue here is not that the mormon church doesn't help people in need because they clearly do. The bigger issue is that it reveals the hierarchical and controlling mindset of mormons where they are entirely dependent on the leaders thousands of miles away. What better way to control people than to restrict all decision making to a few men who are essentially unaccountable to the rest of mormons?

  3. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    arthursido, this is exactly right. I hope more readers recognize that this post makes clear that the LDS Church engages in universal humanitarian work, and a link to the Church's response to the "anomaly" has been included. Yet even so, a local Haitian Church leader did not believe he had the freedom or authority to offer help to people in immediate need without going through "a committee inside of some other committees." I wonder whatever happened to Joseph Smith's declaration that the Church was supposed to teach correct principles and then allow the people to govern themselves?

  4. falcon says:

    I teach a course in applied human relations at an area college. One of the things I teach the students is that everyone is tuned into the same radio station. It's call letters are "WII-FM". It stands for "What's In It For Me". I don't have a lot of contact with Mormons directly nor their benevolence outreach programs, but I've had a couple of situations reported to me from reliable sources that makes me wonder. For instance I had a friend who served in the Peace Corp in the early 70s. He loved to play basketball and the Mormons were the only ones on American Samoa with a court. He was invited to play at their facility until they figured out he wasn't a prospect for conversion. After that he was no longer invited.
    In his book "Beyond Mormonism" Jim Spencer recounts a situation that began to make him wonder about God's one true church. Jim came upon a man who was in dire need of food and shelter.
    "Since evening was approaching, I invited him to spend the night with Margaretta and me. We fed him supper. But because our apartment was small and Margaretta was not feeling good, we decided to try to find some other place for him to stay the night. I called my bishop, who finally told me to take him to the local hotel and get him a room and the Church would pay for it. The room cost $5.50. The next morning I gave him breakfast, packed him a lunch and found him a ride with a gasoline tanker into Montana. I felt good about the experience and was glad to see the Good Samaritan response of the Church. But on Sunday my enthusiasm was dampened. 'Jim,' the bishop called as he spotted me coming into church. 'Can I talk to you a minute?' 'Sure,' I said pleasantly. In his office, he sat down in a swivel chair behind an old blonde desk, looking apprehensive. 'Jim, I need to ask you a question.' 'Sure. Fire away.' He looked down at this hands folded protectively in front of him on the desk top. Without looking up he asked, 'Was that old man you took to the hotel a member of the Church?' 'No,' I said, growing defensive. 'He wasn't. Why?' 'Well, I'm afraid we can't pay for the hotel bill. The Church does not authorize us to do this for non-members.' 'What kind of position is that?' He looked up in irritation. 'I'm really sorry, Jim, but I don't make the rules. I obey them.'…………I felt angry. What kind of Christianity did not have time for the poor? What was the story of the Good Samaritan all about, anyway? No matter how hard I tried to convince myself otherwise, I realized this was not an isolated incident; it represented Church policy."

  5. falcon says:

    Just for fun:
    1. How much ($$$$$) is the Mormon church worth?
    2. How much ($$$$$) does the Mormon church realize from its various enterprises on a yearly basis?
    3. How much ($$$$$) does the Mormon church take in in tithes and offerings on a yearly basis?
    4. How much ($$$$$) does the Mormon church spend for benevolence for nonMormons on a yearly basis?

    Let's face it, the Mormon church is a business. It has a ton of money. It squeezes it's members for every dollar possible. It requires members to provide free labor for the church. And it has a hierarchy that controls every aspect of the business.

  6. f_melo says:

    That´s what i call Priesthood bureaucracy…

    Can you imagine Peter when that guy at the temple asked him for money, saying to him: "Sorry, but i have to consult a committee to see if i´m authorized to help you".

    Lucky for that guy Peter healed him without thinking twice. Mormonism has nothing to do with first century Christianity, and it has nothing to do with Christ. Jesus never instituted such dysfunctional bureaucracy… He wasn´t looking to establishing a political kingdom on earth.

  7. f_melo says:

    They only help members who pay tithing, or that promise to pay it after they get the help… with few exceptions thanks to some few Bishops who actually have a heart that fears more God than men.

  8. f_melo says:

    Actually, BobW, the point of the article is to expose reality.

    You, know, to show how things truly are before they are twisted by the Mormon PR machine.

    It is my opinion that the Mormon Church only has that humanitarian aid to appease members that could start questioning the church´s use of money, since in the real legal world the mormons have no say whatsoever on the millions of dollars donated every year, or in the businesses that the church started with tithing money.

    and thanks that the United Order wasn´t successful, otherwise all you own would also be in the power of the Corporation of the President of the Church(…), and if you wanted to leave the church you would lose it all!

    Wake up!

  9. The Bible speaks about this stuff, The Mormon church would not allow non members to sleep in the building. The Man was beaten and left on the road to die, 2 different religious leaders passed him up as if he was not their, Yet a good Samaritan helped Him out, same thing here if you ask me.

    Then

    James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?

    Hey Guys, sorry about your loss, please be warm and filled, with what we dont know since were not allowed to help, and were not allowed to give you shelter, but aside from that, please in the name of our Profit, be warm and filled.

  10. Yes I meant Profit not prophet.

  11. f_melo says:

    It shouldn´t be any surprise for Mormons or ex-Mormons that the church would act that way. Everyone knows the members of the church are the priority – they´ll be served first, and then, if there are any resources left, the gentiles.

    I have never seen any non-mormons getting assistance from a mormon Bishop out of church funds – when they help, they help with their own money because they are not allowed to use church´s money to help non-members without permission of the Stake President.

  12. falcon says:

    Here's a question. What if a Mormon goes into his "settle-up" meeting with the bishop and says, "Yes, I gave 10% of my income this year. I gave 5% to the LDS church, 3% to the Salvation Army and 2% to Samaritans Purse. We're good right? Here's my receipts."
    What would the response be? I think we all know. The Morg wants its 10% and the poor plebe knows that if he's going to become a god, he needs to cough it up. Money is the mother's milk of LDS Inc. My guess that the total amount that goes to any sort of benevolence is about 2%. Everything else goes to building new malls and cattle ranches in Nebraska or where ever. The Temples are profit centers that's why they were building the McTemples all over the place. The payback on the investment is real short term.

  13. Seth R. says:

    Sharon, your information is already outdated. See here:
    http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/article/context-on-a

  14. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    Seth, thanks, but a link to the Church's response to the AOL News article is (and always has been) included in my original post above.

  15. Seth R. says:

    Hmm… guess it is. From the tone of your article, I assumed you'd missed it. Sorry.

  16. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    No problem.

  17. f_melo says:

    Since the point of the Mormon testimony goes something like "the LDS Church is true" there is zero chance that a faithful Mormon would ever have the courage to question the practices of what they confess as "God's church".

    Falcon, you nailed it. That´s why the church can get away with anything…

  18. falcon says:

    If someone really wants the answer to the question that Joseph Smith asked God i.e. "What Church should I join?", the answer is "Join the mystical Body of Christ by being born again by the Spirit of God." This "Church" is not an organization where by someone gets their name on the "church rolls". There is a different document that a person gets their name entered in when they come to faith in Christ and are born again. It's called the "Lamb's Book of Life". There are no requirements as to how much money a person has to pay each year, what callings they have to accept or where or how often they worship in some building. The believer in Jesus becomes the worship center in that their body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. Knowing God in a personal way qualifies the believer for eternal life. There are no dues to pay or secret ceremonies with secret handshakes and secret passwords to perform. The good works that the believer performs are not for salvation purposes. They are a manifestation of a changed life wholly dependent and a result of that person's faith in Jesus. The works are the outward manifestation of an inner reality that the person has come to Christ and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
    Now what would be the response of someone who has been born again by the Spirit of God and is doing the works of the Father; to someone who is in dire need of help i.e. some good work? I think the answer is obvious. Institutions are often cold and unresponsive. Someone born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ walks in a manner that He walked.

  19. ipsidixie says:

    Let's see…motes and beams, motes and beams….or more like, pot, kettle, black?

    If a disaster befell people in my city or in my neighborhood, do I think that the megachurch around the corner from my house would provide shelter? Not hardly, they don't want the hoi polloi in among their nice furnishings. In fact, none of the megachurches and other large churches in town would likely open their doors, because it's not about doing what Jesus did (cf. Matthew 25:31-46) but about amassing worldly power and influence. Instead, they'd be saying, "oh, the Red Cross is down at the high school, you can go there (dismissive wave of hand)." As it is, the "charity" provided by evangelical Christians is also conditioned. If you go to a "rescue mission" for a meal or shelter, you're expected to hear out a preacher before you can dip your spoon into the soup. Pay toll, as it were. It's not giving without any expectation of return.

    Evangelicals are as enmeshed as Mormons in seeking after the trappings of middle- and upper-class life and they're just as stingy with charity going out to the so-called "undeserving" or even the "deserving who aren't a part of our group." At least Mormons don't give you a song and dance before telling you, no, no they don't help your kind.

    (Former Mormon and totally unimpressed with the claims of Evangelical Christianity too.)

  20. Verne Brown says:

    The point is that this mormon church and staff didn't even offer some water or food for their MEMBERS. While the morality of denying shelter during the storm to non-members can be argued as well, the 'members' were treated as dirt and ignored by the staff. The treatment left the impression to one of the members who sheltered there that they were not wanted to begin with and to go away.

  21. falcon says:

    ipsidixie,
    Man you sound bitter! Did someone in the Mormon church offend you or have you fallen deeply into sin? I just couldn't resist that, forgive me.
    Here's the deal, I'm not going to defend any religious brand. Some are better than others at carrying out the mandate of the social part of the Good News. I don't belong to a church. I choose not to. I worship when and where I please. My faith is in Christ and Him crucified and not some organizational church attached to a denomination that they have to report to. I'm not recommending my approach, it just works best for me.
    To be fair, any charitable organization has to have accountability built into the system so that funds/resources are not misappropriated. To that end, they have rules, procedures and guidelines to provide a standard operational procedure in providing help. What happens is that an organization has to have a clearly articulated vision and the folks at the top of the structure need to communicate clearly to those carrying out the mandate, how that is done. So it's a fine line between having "rules" and having "flexibility" within the system.
    Having been a Mormon, I'm sure you had a first hand opportunity to sample and observe the Mormon culture and church structure and see what is communicated and carried out regarding benevolence. We have a lot of Mennonites around where I live and I know when there's a disaster in some part of the country they pack up a crew and just go help. Period. No fanfare. No big deal. It's a grass roots response to those in need. I like there approach.

  22. ipsidixie says:

    It's interesting that you have to resort to the Mennonites as an example of charity that is given without expecting anything in return. Why not the Baptists? The Methodists? Etc. Etc.? (For the record, I'm not faulting the Mennonites, I think they do a fabulous job.)

    As for rules, procedures and guidelines, well, that to me says that the operation has gotten too big for its britches. This is not what Jesus was about–remember, he said not to let one hand know what the other hand is doing in regards to giving charity.

    Finally, as to "bitter," well, you know, when you spend your life in a religious system (Christianity) and find out that its truth claims are not what they seem to be (this goes far beyond anything about Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon or anything LDS), yeah, you'd be just a teensy bit bitter. And the answer I have gotten from Evangelical Christians is "just ignore that man behind the curtain." *shrug*.

    Evangelical Christianity isn't the answer, either.

  23. falcon says:

    ipsidixie,
    "Resort to…." I didn't know that I was resorting to anything. I merely used an example from my experience. I think I made it pretty clear that I'm not into brand loyalty when it comes to denomonational religion. I'm not in a position to defend or act as an apologist for Baptists or Methodist or any particular ists.
    Large organizations have all kinds of systemic problems. That's why there was such a big push in the last decade or so to "flatten" the organizational structure within big companies, for example. The whole idea is that in this day and age things change quickly (like markets) and companies have to be prepared to make changes, rapidly, in terms of their products and services and how there delivered.
    That poor sap in the Mormon example/article above, was just a little piece of the big Mormon machine and I can bet he wasn't in a position to respond to the need at hand. He wasn't empowered to do anything because the boys who sit in the big chairs in the big building in Salt Lake City want the power.
    So, if I may respectfully ask, who or what are you bitter at? Is it religion, religious organizations, religious leaders or what turned you off? My approach is that my faith is based on my relationship with Jesus Christ. I'm not really too concerned about much beyond that. I don't know much beyond Christ and Him crucified (to borrow a phrase from the apostle Paul). Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood in payment for my sins of which there are many. I needed a Savior. That's pretty much it.

  24. f_melo says:

    it´s hard to believe that you would just blame Christianity as whole because you´re upset about the lies the mormon church told you… Mormonism is hardly a Christian religious system, unless, of course, you put them together with all the legalistic Christian systems out there that don´t really follow the teachings of Jesus or of the Apostles, but believe in the same Christ… i really don´t know how that works…

    I´m an ex-mormon as well, and i also figured the church hadn´t taught me any Christianity whatsoever…

  25. falcon says:

    Even the first century Church had to deal with challenges associated with growth and organization. While I don't think that everything we read is a prescription as to how we should function, the descriptions are interesting. In Acts 4:33-37 we read:
    "And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each, as any had need."
    But as in any organization, problems will arise given the condition of the human heart even with redeemed people. Acts 5:1-11 we read how Ananias and Sapphira sold some land and intended to give the money to the Church but they held back a portion with dire consequences. And finally in Acts 6:1-6 we read: "Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you,brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom , whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.' And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them."
    So what's the point? The point is that every organization is confronted with problems regarding how they are going to operate. Successful organizations are driven by a vision and a mission that is not something that is just given lip service. One of the challenges of leadership is to continually state the vision and the mission and demonstrate by example what these are. Actions speak louder than words, we all know.
    The Mormon church is a huge and wealthy organization. A good question to ask is, "What are they demonstrating by their actions regarding what type of an outfit they are?" Remember, we are told that the Salt Lake City brand of Mormonism is God's one true church. We are told that they are led by a prophet who hears directly from God. The rank and file are left to accept and defend things quite often, that show that there is a definite performance gap between this perfect church and its less than perfect actions.

  26. wyomingwilly says:

    I agree with our friend Arthursido, it's no question that Mormons help people. The question concerns
    the authoritative chain of command issueing from Salt Lake City, and how individual LDS submit as it
    relates to sudden decisions being made down at the local Ward level.

    Mormons are well known pointing to their prophet as one sign that they are the true followers of Jesus.
    Striving to serve God by obediently submiting to their leaders for doctrinal clarification is well known of
    Mormons. This particular lifestyle has been called by one former well known LDS ( Mormon president
    Ezra T. Benson's grandson ) as , " pray, pay and obey " . But in area of social decisions , especially
    ones that need a quick answer, how do individual Mormons decide ?

  27. falcon says:

    WW,
    Here's the deal. There's always some form or structure to an organization, religious or secular. In an expansive organization it comes down to how much local autonomy there is. Some religious organizations are big on local control. In-other-words, the local church is where it's happening. There's a "loose" affiliation with other local churches and most often they have some form of constitution to guide them and decisions are made more in line with a democratic system.
    Mormons are top down because they claim a prophet who is hearing from God and giving the message to the faithful. This is not an organization that is given to independent decision making whether it be individual or corporate. What would happen, for example, if Mormons kept back 7% of their 10% tithe for local disbursement? Mormons would never do this because they believe in the Golden Rule i.e. "He who has the gold rules." I've worked in all kinds of organizations, private as well as public (sector). Believe me when I say it's all about the money. The person who controls the purse strings has the power.
    Just remember, the Mormon church isn't going to allow Bishop Schmuck out in Broken Branch, Wyoming to have any real power. So the dude has to declare himself a prophet and start his own Mormon sect to get any real power.

  28. wyomingwilly says:

    I was wondering about the comment by Mr. Chrisner in the article for this thread. I agree that all organizations/churches have rules etc., it's just that it seems for religions that believe that theirs is directed daily by revelation from God thruough a prophet , that these rules can take on a different meaning . There's not only the written order for members to follow there's also as Elder Boyd Packer once stated, " the unwritten order of things ". To members who really believe that they're in the " one true church " directed daily by God thru his prophet, I suppose that practically everything they see or hear from those they repect is God's will. I think the comments by our former Mormon friends here are of great value in trying to understand this mind-set . ww

  29. falcon says:

    In highly control organizations, individual initiative and creativity isn't something that is encouraged or fostered. What's important is obedience to the hierarchy/leaders and conformity. It's also not unusual for the members' emotional growth to be stunted. What's important in these groups is that everything look good on the outside. Appearances are everything.
    It shouldn't be that surprising that what occurred in Haiti happened. The idea to go ahead, take initiative, and act wouldn't be something that the average foot soldier in "God's church" would do. They just aren't programmed that way. I'm sure this guy figured that it wasn't in the operations manual to let a bunch of folks into the nice church building. Helping people is messy sometimes and cleaning-up after them can be a chore. Better to stay locked up behind the walls and locked gate, neat, clean and orderly.

  30. RalphNWatts says:

    I have been wondering if I should say something here or not as what I would say will most likely be put down by some here. But I need to remember that there is a geographical/cultural difference between all of us. So here goes – this is from my experience and knowledge.

    Firstly, the churches in my area of Australia (ie any denomination) do not open up their church buildings to anyone when there are emergencies going on. They do open up their community hall area if they have one, but not their mass/worship buildings. So if a church does not have a community hall separate to their main worship centre they do not provide accommodation for people in refuge. Most people are directed to the government schools in emergency evacuations. So the LDS church is not alone on that respect.

  31. RalphNWatts says:

    As to why the LDS church does not – I don’t know exactly why but I can provide a couple of reasons. Due to the over-litigious nature of current society, if something were to happen to a person in one of our buildings, the church could be sued for any harm/medical bills the person acquires. So insurance is one reason.

    Second, the building is used in worshipping God and thus a certain amount of respect needs to be given. Many people would give it due respect, but there are the small group that would come in and get dirt everywhere, break the furniture, and in general not show respect that should be in commonplace society for any household, not just a place of worship.

  32. RalphNWatts says:

    Third, no one, not even members, are allowed to spend the night in the building without permission from the stake president. I don’t know the full story of that one in Haiti, even though someone said that the members staying there were taking refuge, that is hearsay at the moment as it cannot be corroborated. Yes I know that this is the ‘issue’ of the article above, that we have a chain of command that needs to be followed, but God’s house is a house of order.

    As far as helping out with humanitarian aid, the church has stocked warehouses around the world provided for by the farms that we keep. To get the food to places that need it, all that is necessary is for the appropriate signature and then its off. There is not beaurocratic red tape so it gets to the site usually before any governmental aid does. For local areas, we do not have the luxury of having a stocked warehouse so this cannot be done. Since most banks and electrical things (eg ATMs) would not be working money cannot be accessed either so none of the churches would be able to provide anything, except for the Salvos as they usually have stocked warehouses.

  33. RalphNWatts says:

    When we had the big earthquake here, I saw the church organise groups of members in my area to go out and knock on doors of everyone (ie not just LDS members) finding out if that house is in need of assistance and then trying to provide for it. I have not seen this done in my local area by other denomination except the Salvos.

    When Sydney was surrounded by fires and the people in the affected areas were evacuated, the members went along the freeway where the cars were stopped in 40 degree heat, giving out food and water from church funds, not members’ pockets.

    So my experience is that the LDS church in my area is by far more organised and willing to assist others not of our faith when in emergency situations with full backing from our local leaders.

  34. RalphNWatts says:

    Sorry this has been in pieces, but I cannot post long ones while at work. I would have to have waited until I was home to do this in one go.

  35. falcon says:

    Ralph,
    I don't think we're talking about a mob with torches and pitchforks here wanting to rob and loot and destroy the premises. These folks were looking for shelter. I have a hard time believing that Jesus would refuse entry of someone in need into His house because they might get some dirt on the floor.
    Let me share with you something in the Word of God, the Bible. It tells us what God wants in terms of a "fast".( Isaiah 58:7)"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" Read all of Isaiah 58 and you will get a picture of God as He is revealed in the Bible.
    Now I know as Christians we worship a different God so perhaps the god of Mormonisms pantheon of gods has a little different attitude regarding who he is willing to shelter and who he isn't.

  36. RalphNWatts says:

    Please reread what I have written Falcon. I said that the local Christian churches here also do not accept people seeking refuge from emergency events unless they have a separate community hall – ie not part of the building they worship in. Since we have an 'all-in-one' building in which we worship, are we not doing the same as those other Christian churches. And I am talking about Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist.

  37. RalphNWatts says:

    I guess the question is – if the article above is saying that we have a bureaucracy (ie a chain of command) to get through for people to gain refuge in our church buildings which is 'wrong' from a Christian perspective, then what is the problem with the Christian churches in my area as they do not have a bureaucracy to go through and in your opinion should allow free, instant access to people seeking refuge but they don't?

  38. falcon says:

    Ralph,
    I can't speak for the Christian churches in your area, but I can tell you that in the area in which I live, I can't imagine a church not accepting people in need of emergency shelter; not allowing people into the building, members or nonmembers. Since these are places of worship, what better worship or sacrifice can we offer than a sacrifice of mercy to God.

  39. Something I really hate is people saying, These local churchs would not do this or that. Jesus said Follow me, Jesus did not say, Follow my followers. So we need to be light and an example, if churchs do not allow someone shelter than they are not being a good follower of Jesus and they should be questioned on it.

    Ralph said,

    Second, the building is used in worshipping God and thus a certain amount of respect needs to be given. Many people would give it due respect, but there are the small group that would come in and get dirt everywhere, break the furniture, and in general not show respect that should be in commonplace society for any household, not just a place of worship.

    The problem I have with this is, It is not taught in the Bible. Jesus said, I desire mercy rather than sacrifice, also if you read and understand the Bible, We are the Church, not the building we meet in. Over the years, the church I attended here in Saint Paul has meet in a local school, Rec centers, out doors in the park and now in a room in a local building, We have never meet in a "Church" Building and we do not own one.

    Also look at the History and founding of Calvary Chapel and Pastor Chuck Smith. Back in the early 70's he was trying to reach out to the surfers in California because those people like everyone else needs Jesus. He started allowing them to come as they were, right out of the ocean and into the Church, many people in his church complained they were wet and ruining the carpet, or people complained they were bare foot and had long hair.

    Chuck Smith did not care, he said put down plastic or remove the carpet, He cared more about these people receiving Jesus than the building. The Church I attended here in Saint Paul is the same exact way. My pastor sat under Chuck Smith before coming here to be a pastor, we are the same way. We care about the people, not the furniture or the building. If only more people really understood Jesus and cared about souls and not money or property.

  40. RalphNWatts says:

    Falcon,

    Like I said – it’s possibly geographical/cultural. This is just my experiences.

  41. RalphNWatts says:

    RickB,

    Yes the church is about the individual not the building, but remember, whenever someone in the Bible was in a holy place where God revealed Himself to them, whether burning bush, dream or other, they showed that place respect and reverence for that purpose, even being commanded to do it. Look at what Jesus did in the temple with the merchants, and what did He say to them? It is His Father’s house.

    So some decorum of respect needs be shown for sacred buildings/places. A little bit of dirt/sand/wet carpets is nothing. I was talking about those who would go in and literally treat it like their home, when it isn’t.

    Imagine a big storm in your area. You being a Christian call out to some people on the street and tell them they can find shelter at your place. One of them comes in covered in mud, with 1 inch thick mud on their shoes. They walk right into the lounge room tracking mud through from the front door, plonk themselves down on your lounge and then put their feet up on the lounge getting mud all over it. Then they proceed to get a cigarette out, light it and smoke without asking permission. What would you do/think? Would you be a good Christian and let him do all that and encourage him to do it? Or would you be wanting to oust him or call him into line to show respect for you and your family and property?

    As far as meeting in a school or other non-church building, they are not consecrated/dedicated for the worship of God as a church is so they don’t really matter. And yes, I do respect other churches’ buildings as a place of worship even if I don’t believe in their ‘god’. For example in Japan I visited some of their temples and I showed the respect in them. I have done the same for Muslim mosques and Christian churches.

    I have also spoken of a friend a couple of times in past blogs. He was a surfer when he joined the church and he was allowed to pass the sacrament in his best clothes – a tank top, cut off jeans and thongs (I think you call them flip-flops). So we do cater for all.

  42. Ralph, I'm sure someone reading this will doubt me but I really dont care. Jesus cares more about people than the building. Jesus will not deny shelter to people simply because the building is "Scared", Show me scripture where he would do that.

    Then as far as people coming into my house, I could care less about Mud, any amount of mud, In the end, as the Bible tells us, it's all going to burn. I would tell them they could not smoke, But smoke would effect me, mud will not. Yes I would have to clean mud up, so in a sense it would effect me, but a little cleaning never killed anyone. Smoke has, and would effect me, since I did smoke for 10 years. I have not smoked now in close to 20 years, but still it bothers me. Plus if people cared, they would clean the mud up themselves.

    As far as Jesus and the temple goes, He threw people out, not because He did not want them to have shelter, but because they were using the place to rip people off, and steal from them. As far as Moses and the Burning bush goes, That was out in the desert and was a little patch of land, not a building. so If the place is sacred since God is their, then so are the buildings that we believers meet in even if they are not church buildings.

    Jesus stated many times in the Bible, He cares more about people and them, than anything else, Building or creatures. Jesus Died for us, not our pets or property. For all the people that claim believers are not living as they should, like, That guy claims to be a christian, yet denys me shelter, Then you live as you feel scripture teaches, I do, and as I said, Jesus said, Follow me, not follow my followers.

  43. falcon says:

    Does anyone remember when Jesus and His disciples were walking through a field and it was the Sabbath and they were hungry and took the tops off of the grain and ate it? The religious leaders got all bent out of shape because they accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them of the incident where David and his men were hungry and had nothing to eat and they went into the Holy Place and took the sacred bread and ate it. Jesus was demonstrating something here and I'll let the reader figure out what that is.
    Jesus would let the people into the church and sleep on the pews if necessary. A holy place is one where the will of the Lord is done. It's the spirit not the law that prevails.

  44. Ralph, Jesus was eating with the religious leaders and then a whore came in and wept and wiped the feet of Jesus. The religious leaders freaked, Jesus said those who were forgiven much, love much, those who were forgiven little love little.

    I suspect that many believers who do not allow People in need sleep in Church's love little and were forgiven little. They also dont understand the Bible. I on the other hand know how much I have been forgiven and in turn do as the scriptures say, I will help out where and when I can. The only thing I wont do is simply hand out cash to people on the streets begging for money. I know the vast majority are liars and their is daily labor jobs, or they can donate plasma. I have done both so I know it can be done.

    Also as I said, the Bible claims if all we do is say, be warm and filled but do nothing thats wrong.

  45. Hannah says:

    soooooo grateful that you've posted this, Ralph. I have been thinking about this article for a long time and it's been eating at me. I am an evangelical Christian living in Salt Lake City, Utah, and this article drives me nuts. If we are going to use the example of one LDS church on one area and generalize it to stereotype the Mormon church, I am bothered. This is not only bad journalism, but bad thinking!!!

    In fact, I know plenty of "Christian" churches who could have articles written about closing their doors to all but their members during a distater and I would be upset to be categorized with them, even though we share the same faith. They are not me, I am not them, and they are certainly not my entire religious family. I am very disappointed that it has taken so long for someone (thanks Ralph!) to address this, even in his much nicer way.

    PLEASE do not think that the Mormon church is the only church that may close their doors during a disaster. And do not assume that they would do this in every situation.

    Yes, it's true that tithing to their church is part of what makes them considered "worthy" for salvation (via the access to the temple and it's ceremonies). This is sad to me and obviously not at all what God had intended (including a lot of other things about their religion). But certainly, some of you have been blessed by their outreach and charity at some time. And if you haven't, then quit shooing them off of your door steps. Give me a break, people.

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