Wednesday, December 24, 2008

got gifts?

got gifts?: Open any newspaper, turn to any local TV news program and you’ll find a way to “give” to the less fortunate this month.

But who exactly is doing the getting is not very clear, especially on Kaua`i where dozens of articles for programs soliciting contributions, from the Food Bank to the Salvation Army Kettle Bucket Brigade, ply the press without any inking of what the needy, deserving families and kids can do to get these goodies

And there’s a reason- each takes care of their own and only their own. . The “Shop with a Cop” program takes care of victimized kids chosen by the Children’s Justice Center, Toys for tots takes care of military families, and the special newspaper and TV programs take kids whose parents are in the state social service system already.

And the rest goes to the most self-centered of all supposed “charities”- the christian churches.

We know it’s their Big Day tomorrow but apparently self-service is what’s at the center of their lip-service to their “christian charity”.

We got a call from someone recently wondering what she could do to direct some all this “help” to a child she knew whose parents aren’t the religious types and aren’t in the court or welfare system but was nonetheless in need.

And we found out that for the most part if you’re not a christian, forget it.

As anyone who has attempted to get food from the Food Bank on Kaua`i without going to a religious organization knows, it’s impossible. You can’t get food directly from the Food Bank itself and every single current distribution outlet is a christian church or is church affiliated.

And guess what? While most religious organizations protest that, at least in theory they will serve anyone regardless of whether they are members of their own brand of indoctrination and superstition, the fact is that if in practice there is any giving going on outside the faith we couldn’t find it.

The worst part of it is that government resources that are spent on these things. The government is always giving benefits to churches, whether exceptions for zoning and permitting or tax-free status or actual cash contributions.

Supposedly it’s because they “help the community”. But most of the time it’s their own religious community that’s helped and more often than not it serves to expand their sphere of influence.

Lately there’s even these “faith based” government programs which are disguised by being provided for non proselytizing activities. But all the churches have to do is a little robbing of Peter to pay Paul to shift the money around to distribute services to their own members, usually for their own evangelical activities.

Don’t forget- to get the meal, you have to sit through the sermon

In all fairness the Salvation Army doesn’t ask questions and makes it relatively pain free for those who need help. In that, they are the exception that proves the rule. But should people be forced to go to a religious organization if they have strong non-religious feelings?

A major part of freedom of religion is freedom from religion.

Who where and when did any local churches actually seek out non-members for their giving? Where was the effort to alert the non-believers that they are welcome to share in the money solicited from the general public and even government with no religious stings attached?

If there has been an article among these “how to give” features about how to get without going to church we haven’t seen it.

A couple of dozen years ago we were invited by a friend to see a slide show on Japan at the Kapa`a Missionary Church.

Soon it became apparent the presenters had returned from a trip designed to convert the heathen Shinto. And in the middle of the program they showed picture of a beautiful Shinto shrine followed by one showing it burned to the ground.

“Here’s a temple (second slide) that burned to the ground while we were there” she said with a decided expression of joy in her voice. “And they couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t help them rebuild their temple” she said, shaking her head that anyone could be so stupid as to not understand why.

That was greeted with not only knowing smiles exchanged but even derisive laugher.

We got up grabbed the kids and yelled as we walked up the center isle “you people wouldn’t know your own god damn christian charity if it bit ya on the ass”.

We’ll let you go back to your egg nog after an appropriate lyric from “Sunrise”, by Grace Slick and the Jefferson Starship.

Civilized Man
You were keeper to me
Now your animal is free
And you're free to die
You're old and your hands are gray
Your old go home and
We've all heard you dirty stories
Two thousand years
Two thousand years
Two thousand years
Of your
God damn


Joan Conrow said...

Andy, there are some food pantries distributing Food Bank food, that are not affiliated with churches. They include Hale Ho’omalu (Kapaa), Lihue Court Town Homes, Nana's House in Waimea. You can also get emergency food baskets through several non-church organizations, and a number of agencies, such as Malama Pono, also distibute food bank food.

Mr. Moto said...

It's not about facts, Joan. You're ruining Andy's "theme."

Andy Parx said...

If those places are distributing Food Bank donations Joan, the Food Bank itself either doesn’t know about it or does not tell people about distribution outlets when they call and ask I called myself twice after two others told me about it. They said they knew of one place in Anahola but could not provide contact information.

In addition when you call “211”- the only publicized/advertised way to find out where to receive food from the Food Bank they do not list anyplace on Kaua`i except two churches and the Salvation Army. I did hear second hand that someone got some food from Malama Pono but it turned out it was apparently a one time distribution to their clients. I haven’t been able to talk to the staff person who told the person who told me about it yet

If indeed these other places are distributing food, no one who calls the appropriate numbers can find out about it so I wouldn’t consider them a publicly available distribution outlet but rather private ones.

I know “believers” and critics would like to think I make this stuff up but that’s their loss..

Mr. Moto said...

So you're mad because, why? The Christians are doing all the heavy lifting to help the poor and you think that's unfair somehow? You make no sense. Why don't you get out and get some food to people. You and Katy Rose.

Scott said...

Hello Andy and Merry Christmas,

I once read somewhere that some person asked Mother Theresa how can the average person help all the folks in need. She replied, "Just help one."

I am surprised about the food bank info.

I think you are a little hard on the Salvation Army. Are you saying the needy are entitled to a choice of folks that they can turn to for help? A sailor would say any port in a storm.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous year to you and yours.


Andy Parx said...

I did say that the Salvation Army doesn’t proselytize and are relatively pain free, Scott. And I’m not really knocking them. They do lot of good stuff, especially providing practically the only widely available drug and alcohol rehab and homeless support program in the state

But the point of giving is not supposed to be getting and if the church is giving to support and even expand their church then the giving is more than suspect. I’d compare the churches “giving” to the Taliban’s or Hamas’ who also “take care of their people” because the government doesn’t.

And yes- just because one is in need doesn’t mean they have to sacrifice their dignity and principles. The very fact that our society forces people to turn to churches rather than take care of it’s poor and needy directly and painlessly speaks volumes about the moral bankruptcy of the country. In essence it forces people to support the church by taking food and other commodities because when they are done the churches turn to the government and others and say “see all the ‘good’ we do? Give us resources”.

If you see religion as a force of good then of course you might see nothing wrong with this especially if you have a self centered and self serving individualistic view of the world. But many not only don’t see religion that way and even see it as a the source of most evil in the world.

Joan Conrow said...

Those outlets (pantries, agencies and emergency food baskets) are all listed on the Food Bank's website, Andy, under "how to get help."

Andy Parx said...

Thanks Joan- I wasn’t aware they had a web site now. I wonder why they don’t tell phone callers about those two. and I wonder what Hale Ho’omalu is and what the note that says “Family referrals only!” means.

They also don’t tell callers about they “emergency” program that is on the web site although I’m not sure how that works

So it sounds like there is one unrestricted, nonreligious place and time. That’s 2-3:30 p.m. on Monday’s in Lihu`e Court Town Homes.