Just Look At This Asshole: Catholic Church Spraying Homeless With Water At Night In San Francisco

In a tremendous show of Christian charity, a Catholic church in San Francisco has installed water sprinklers specifically meant to drive away the homeless people who sleep in the church’s outer alcove. The homeless individuals in question were under the impression that the sprinklers were installed to keep the alcove clean, but that wasn’t the intended purpose – the water just pools in the alcove and on the steps. Moreover, a staff member at the church confirmed that it was meant to drive the homeless out of the shelter of the alcove, and the archdiocese spokesman had this to say about it:

“We do the best we can, and supporting the dignity of each person,” he said. “But there is only so much you can do.”

Yeah, sure, there’s only so much you can do, because it takes more than a passive effort to allow homeless people to sleep in the alcove of your church rather than spraying them with water at night, putting them at risk for hypothermia and pneumonia that they can’t afford to treat because they’re homeless, while at the same time wasting water when your state has a year of water supply left.

Not that I’m preaching here, because I’m just a godless atheist, but what does the Bible say about charity to the poor?

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:10-11)

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:33)

Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. (Proverbs 28:27)

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17)

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (Proverbs 14:31)

And it only goes on from there. The Bible is pretty murky and weird about a lot of things, but charity to the poor is pretty much the one issue on which it is crystal clear. In fact, charity is one of the tiny handful of things that I actually did take away from my Catholicism when I left the faith.

It cost $9 million to build St. Mary’s Cathedral between 1965 and 1971. Real estate values in San Francisco are six times higher than they were 30 years ago, much less 50 years ago. Unfortunately churches don’t have to report donations, but how much do they take in every week? The church is the equivalent of 18 stories high, and includes a large plaza, a faculty residence, a rectory, conference center, parish hall, museum, underground parking, and a high school named laughably after St. Vincent De Paul, who was sainted for his dedication to one-to-one service for individuals in need. How much money do they take in, and how much of that do they dedicate to doing the one thing the Bible says you absolutely must do to be morally perfect, and providing for the poor?

This “there is only so much you can do” business is nonsense. There’s only so much an individual can do for the poor. The Church can never do enough. If the diocese were to sell the building and the land, fire all of its employees, negotiate the management of the school into the public school system, take all the money it earned from the sale and saved from its yearly budget, and open a volunteer- and donation-based homeless shelter, they would be doing close to enough. As it stands, they’re doing worse than twiddling their thumbs – they are actively antagonizing and hurting the poor. Saying “shame on you” isn’t nearly appropriate for this – “Go to hell” sounds better to me; at least they believe in it.


[Talking Points Memo]



[Paragon Real Estate]

[Cathedrals of California]


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