Friday, December 3, 2010

#204 Not giving money to the homeless


When encountering someone holding an "ANYTHING HELPS" sign, evangelicals will sooner pass them by than give them money.

There's an unspoken bias in Christian culture that is skeptical of those asking for a handout. They wish the homeless would grab those bootstraps already and start yanking. But they are faintly aware of what Jesus said about the poor so they will sometimes give them food, but never cash, citing that they might use it to buy drugs or malt liquor.

When stopped at a light by a needy person holding a sign, the typical evangelical might rifle around a bit and see if there is a granola bar or Swiss Cake Roll to give them but they will not give them money. If the person stopped ahead of them sticks a dollar bill out the window, there's a good chance an evangelical will say "They're just going to go get drunk with it. Sighhhhh."

14 comments:

DC Handgun Info said...

Why do you scoff at this? Most homeless seem to be alcoholics; I work in D.C. and I see them all the time. What do you think they will do with your dollar? Put it into their IRA?

Zhuge Liang XLII said...

DCHI,

Your blog blows your cover - you definitely have an ideological agenda and can't see that Stephanie is addressing this from a religious point of view.

Anonymous said...

What's ironic about crap like what you suggested "Mr. Handgun" is that "bootstrap" mentality means supposedly "having faith" that God will help pull the homeless up out of their poverty. But you conveniently have NO faith or trust that that person might be responsible with the money you give them."Boot strap" mentality in the Christian sense always has faith in the possibility that someone might be responsible for themselves and the "servant" mentality in the Christian sense gives grace in such a way-- like GIVING FRIGGIN MONEY-- that nurtures the possibility for the person to gain a motivation to desire something better for themselves. Bootstrap peddlers are full of it. They hide behind "I don't want to enable" as a reason to either not give a shit or to stimulate their self-righteousness...because...you know...they may struggle with lust and masturbation BUT AT LEAST he isn't homeless and drunk all the time. HAVE FAITH IN PEOPLE. If they (the homeless person) continues to fall than maybe you should rearrange your life to help. How you love people IS how you love God. You cannot say "Lord, Lord, help this man" and then say "But Lord, Lord...I believe he will buy booze with it!"

stephy said...

The problem with grace is that it doesn't make sense.

Krystal said...

I'm an ex-Christian atheist, and I don't give homeless people anything. I'm in Philadelphia, though, and I have the problem of being cornered by homeless men, followed by homeless men, and in one recent incident, subject to an attempted robbery by a panhandler.

I'm a small white woman, so they probably assume that they can intimidate me. Nope.

Lennyb said...

"Give to the one who begs from you"
Matthew 5:42

Parhelion said...

I'm also an atheist and a small(ish), white(ish) woman, but I do give change to the homeless. I figure they might get drinks but they might get some coffee, which is likely what I was going to do with it. Besides, I view civilized society as the product of our sometimes-in-vain acts of faith in each other mixed with random fortune, a place where there, but for the vagaries of fate, go I.

To be fair, I've never had problems to turn me against my custom, not even with the strung-out or loopy, not even when I lived in L.A. or London. I don't know why; obviously, others' mileage may vary.

It's not that I'm trying to boast. I'm only trying to point out that the thumbs down position on such giving doesn't automatically have all the gritty realism on its side. And, yes, I do give money to charities and other formal ways of dealing with these sorts of situations. It's not like one precludes the other, y'know?

Anonymous said...

I dig your blog. There is irony in this depending on why the person is denying to give money, but as someone who has worked directly with the homeless and in rehabilitation for years, I never give money to the homeless. It's entirely enabling and most homeless really do struggle with addiction.

It is supposing that money is the answer to the problem. Want to help? Buy them a meal, sit down with them, and talk to them. Carry fruit, granola bars and water bottles in your bag to handout. But mostly, find a good rehabilitation program in your town, volunteer with it, and have knowledge so when approached you can offer help that will last.

Anonymous said...

I live in an area where most of the homeless are actually US Veterans. The fact that the Christians here are pro-war and yet anti-homeless has been an ongoing source of amusement for me...

Anonymous said...

Ask 'em "are you hungry?"

If they say yes, ask 'em if you can get 'em something to eat.

Give 'em the dignity of choosing what they'd like. A slice of pizza? A hamburger? A half-sub?

-- Danny in Canada

Anonymous said...

As a christian, I believe that we are called to love and to give to those in need. If we are to turn away from those begging for help, how can we call ourselves christians? Sure it would be more "safe" to buy a homeless person food rather than directly giving them money. However, if for some situation you are in a position where you cannot buy food, would it still not be better to give money? What the homeless person does with that money is between him/her and God.

Satan will use tricks like making you believe "Don't give that homeless person money because he'll just use it to buy drugs and alcohol" in order to have you turn your back on those in need. When we give money to the poor, we are giving them a choice. What they do with that choice will be ultimately judged in the end. Our actions of helping the poor vs turning a blind eye will too be judged in the end.

Emily said...

This is such a strange notion to pin on Christians. I have heard hundreds of excuses for ignoring the homeless, many not from Christians. Statistically, this doesnt even make sense. If every non Christian was giving these people money I doubt they would be homeless! Furthermore, how is it wrong to give a hungry person food? This blog is sad, because it is an obvious hate watch on a group of humans that will inevitably fail as all of us do. I am sorry you have been hurt by the church, but blaming people will not make you feel better. Jesus is the only answer to your lonely heart, and I dont care if that's a "cliche christian answer," it's a true one. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Most homeless people aren't just drunks, though some are. And you know what? Alcoholics have to eat too. Whenever someone asks me for what I can spare, I give them money. It's not about them. It's about me.

Amy Latta said...

"Excuse me. I am homeless. I am gay. I have aids. I'm new in town."

--from one of John Mullaney's stand-up bits.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmF1XQr0GEw