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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/20/15

The Changing Climate of San Francisco Compassion: Has "The Sanctuary City" Acquired A Mean Reputation?

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First the water rained down, and then the condemnation rained down -- and on Wednesday, San Francisco's embarrassed Roman Catholic Archdiocese said it would tear out sprinklers that have been dousing homeless people sleeping in the doorways of its premier church in the city.The sprinklers have been regularly dousing people camping overnight in four spacious side doorways of St. Mary's Cathedral for about two years, leaving soggy piles of blankets, clothing, hypodermic needles and other trash nearly every morning. Preventing that type of mess, soggy or not, was the reason the archdiocese installed the sprinklers, church officials said.

The latest homeless scandal was proof that homelessness, like the homeless, would not go away from the City by the Bay. And the fact that the "water torture" of St. Mary's lasted two years without being discovered, told us that homelessness had not been of value, media-wise.

The reaction, of course, was swift and fearless:

Copyrighted Image? DMCA

When apprised of the situation, San Francisco's Mayor Edwin Lee told reporters to contact the City's Homeless Outreach Team, but then reporters Matier and Ross contacted them, they found little to "get the homeless off the streets":

Matier and Ross(SF Chronicle)
As for how many homeless the team has gotten off the streets?
"I'm not sure the function of the team is to get people off the street," unless it is to a hospital or, if they are passed out, to a sobriety center, said health department spokeswoman Rachael Kagan.

Of course, San Francisco still looks better than some other cities when it comes to homelessness. The Salvation Army in Williston, ND, for example, gave the homeless a one-way-ticket back home. And in Raleigh, NC, it became illegal to feed the homeless.

Such practices are certainly no solution to homelessness, instead, the homeless become vehicles for agendas: it's no secret that the Christian Right wants the homeless to depend upon faith-based services instead of "handouts" from the government. Numerous articles at the time of Paul Ryan's bid for the vice-presidency touted how his plan would steer people away from "evil" government services towards faith-based entities.

Luckily, San Francisco hasn't succumbed to that kind of "righteousness."

Cleanliness Is Next To Godlessness

The reason San Francisco has acquired as reputation as a "mean city" is because in its efforts to "clean up" certain sections (visible to tourists), it has criminalized homelessness. For many, "cleaning up" an area means sweeping up homeless people as much as the detritus of homelessness: people are treated like the trash they leave behind. Such an effort is certainly not Christian ... or humane.

The Fine Line of Compassion- and Getting My Comeuppance

A withered bag lady sat sprawled on a MUNI seat, with her one bandaged leg up on two seats perpendicular to her. When I sat down next to her, she pleaded with me not to touch her foot. I was respectful and managed to sit scrunched up for a while. Her odor, however, made it impossible for me to sit in proximity and I got up out of my seat gingerly.

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Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books €" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)
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