It’s probably true to a certain extent with all peoples, but it’s seems more true with America, that we live by myths. We prefer a good story over the truth.
One such myth is that Churches pick up where the government leaves off, when it comes to charity. But, that’s not the reality of it. Most often, when people become homeless, they turn to the church, even before going to the government for help.
But as I discovered, churches are no longer places of sanctuary. Every church I went to, when I first became homeless, turned me away at the door. The two basic responses I got were, “you’re not a member of this church, we only help church members,” or “we cannot afford to help you.”
Truth is, people turn to churches first for help, and the government picks up where churches fail.
I too believed the myth that people in America could turn to churches in times of need. But reality struck me square in the face. This disillusionment was the beginning of my irritation.
Oh, there are things that some churches do in the name of the “needy,” but when you get close enough to it you see it for what it really is. Even with their charity work, churches are mostly self serving entities, insisting that everything they do be labeled with their name, their denomination, etc. Their focus isn’t on helping the needy, their focus is on making a show of helping the needy. In their act of charity, their attention is not on the needy but on facing the camera with their best side, metaphorically speaking. So, most of the time what is given to the needy doesn’t meet the needs of the needy as much as it makes the church look good.
For 30 years, chaplains at the rescue mission told me that all I needed, so to solve my problems, was to read the bible and pray. That is their answer to everything. They consider no other possible solution to problems. Well, what I really needed was a proper diagnosis of my mental health condition (Asperger’s Syndrome) and a good therapist to teach me some coping skills. But that help never came my way while homeless, so I languished on the streets. The rescue mission still preaches against psychology, declaring that all problems people have are based on their faulty relationship to God, and that only by developing a right relationship with God can they overcome them. Can you believe that? They even tell that crap to people with severe Schizophrenia.
Yes, in the past few years things have changed, to a small degree. Some people are actually starting to pay attention to the needs of homeless people, and responding in proper and significant ways. Still these people are in the minority. Hopefully, they are a sign that things are changing. But, when I look at politics today and see how the Rightwing does everything they can to discourage compassion for their fellow man, I have doubts about the future.
By the way, I finally did get that diagnosis and have an exceptionally good therapist. I got it with the help of government agencies, agencies whose funding is being threatened.