3.14.2012

Prayer... an issue?

Prayer, a religious activity, is the center of some controversy in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. A food bank there asks to pray with people when they come in. The state is saying they can't do that and still get the federal emergency assistance food that makes up 15% of what they distribute.

The state has already come in and taken the food out of the pantry in Seymour. That food will be redistributed between 3 other pantries in Jackson County Indiana.

 I went to Seymour last night. I sat down with Paul Bruce who runs the pantry. I asked him... why not take the food and let the prayer go? People need the food, right? His answer: it's not about the food to him... this pantry is his ministry and prayer is a big part of it.



Now it's important to note: most of the food pantries in Indiana are faith-based pantries... per a state administrator. Most of them find a way to comply with the rules. 

Paul's thought a lot about it... you can tell when you talk to him. People have tried to convince him to do different things to be in compliance with the "rules." But he says no... he believes the prayer is too important.

The pantry doesn't "require" anyone to pray... the volunteers just ask if you'd like to pray... and Paul believes he has a right to ask and people have a right to do what they want. He showed us the guidelines... which say you can't make religious activities a "requirement" for food. State administrators say that even asking can make people feel like they have to pray in order to get the help they need. Paul has appealed to the state to give him back the food. He is still waiting on their answer.

Paul told me last night as I was leaving that he never thought this was what he'd take a stand for. He's a military guy... a Marine. But he laughed a bit thinking about it because for him it was a no-brainer. He said... if you cant stand for what you believe in, what can you stand for?

He says... he believe in God. He believes in heaven and hell... and he believes in the power of prayer. The food for the pantry is starting to come in from other places... other donations. He says he can see his prayer is being answered.

I'd love to hear your opinions...  I've tried very, very hard to leave my thoughts out of this one. I know this one will stir up lots of thoughts and that is what blogging is all about. Share your thoughts... please, just respect each others opinions.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It amazes me the rules and regulations that the government will choose to enforce. Not one report about this story has said people were refused food. So they were asked to pray. This is obviously not the only food bank in this town as the food was given to other pantries. The offer was given, but was still a choice. I guess if a reason to complain is there, then people will do it. Whats next, are people going to be offended by spending money, after all it saus on money, IN GOD WE TRUST, maybe we need to put some of that trust back were it belongs, and let this pantry do what they have been doing: Providing a service to their comunity.

said...

Anonymous said it all! Preach!!!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't every session of the State Legislature still convened with a prayer first?

Anonymous said...

As long as he truly isn't forcing the prayer, then I see no problem in asking patrons if they want to pray. However I think it's ignorant to not comply to the state over something like prayer. It's up to the patron whether they want to pray or not. As an Atheist I too understand how uncomfortable it can be around people praying. Now if I eat dinner with my family (who are Christians,) I always remove my hat and bow my head. I do this out of respect for them, and not for their prayer. To me prayer is talking to the wind. I imagine some of these people feel like they have to pray even though it is not mandatory. Religion is a tough boat to float. Our freedom of choice to not have or have religion is one of the core values of this country. I guess I don't understand why it always has to be brought up. Why does it matter? If these people want to pray then great, just don't do it at the pantry. That way you still get your funding. I doubt quitting prayer is going to make or break the pantry.

said...

So, basically, what this boils down to is, someone asked:
"Would you like to pray with us?"
..and they responded:
"How dare you ask that! Just give us our free food!"
Is that about right?

said...

I agree with him. He's not making them do it, he's not saying if you don't pray you don't get food.. People need to get off their high horse. Just because we are a country of free religion doesn't mean we can run all over people who want to believe in god. whether it be christian, lutheran, catholic, or baptist we all have the right to ASK ask simple question, would you like a prayer? I will pray for the stupidity this country is becoming to...

Anonymous said...

Love this man! I wish people would ask me to pray with them more often. It's what this world needs most. I agree that if they were just simply asking if they want to pray is not telling them they are required to pray. I don't worry about these kinds of things...God always seems to work things out for his good. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't care if he does demand they pray. What in the hell makes somebody think that they have a right to dictate the terms on which people give them gifts?

You don't wanna pray? Don't eat.

Oh, 15% is from the government?? Well, well, well... In that case, the beggar should have all the rights. Nobody else has any rights... just the guy who is so poor that he can't afford food. He gets to make all the decisions. What doesn't make sense about that?

Anonymous said...

God have mercy on us if people dont care then y sould anyone ealse you should give thanks to God for the food you are getting

Anonymous said...

I have taken my dear mother there many times and she loved that a stranger took the time to talk to her about her problems and prayer with her. I was there, also, and never felt pressured or intimidated. My mother needed the food and she appreciated it and I appreciated how they never made us feel bad for being there...God bless them and I pray that they are doubly blessed by this federal stupidity...How could this happen here in the good old USA???

Anonymous said...

The Federal Government violates the Constituation by requiering this . The Armed Forces have Chaplins that Pray , the US Congress has a hired Chaplin that prays . They put this junk on me at my Church's Food Pantry . I told them "that hell will freeze over before I obey that requirement" . I also told them to keep the commidities . The agents that I talked to turned it around to make it look like it was their decision to close the Governments part of out operation down . I called the man and told him to do what you need to do to make youself look good , but you know the truth . If I can help in any way let me know . Since this is already happening I would call a Press conference and get the media involved . Maybe we can stop this madness . And what does the world expect when they come to a Church for help . After all it is not a beer tavern or a drug house . True madness from a very secular government . Pastor Truman Smith , Fort wayne in (COG CLEVELAND TN )

waitress28 said...

Once I read the whole article and understand he could have complied to some rules in order to have prayer in the building, I don't stand by the gentleman. I respect his ways, just sometimes rules are made for good reasons.

Anonymous said...

God will honor your stand...I am declaring that your food pantry will be overflowing with provision to meet all needs. God bless you and the ministry and stand God has called you to take.

Truth be known people are desiring to know that someone cares enough to pray. I have been in situations where I asked someone if I could pray for them and they simply said "no, I am fine" and that was that.

Jack said...

It always seems that no matter how little the government contributes to anything that they then immediately assume complete authority. If a private school takes funds or any supplies they are instantly told what to teach, how to teach it, and what not to teach. Now if a relious organization takes any money or supplies from Uncle Sam then they suddenly loose their freedom of religion.

Catholics and Muslims alike are being forced to accept abortion and contraceptive measures. Christians told when and where they can pray. And any other religion that falls outside the accepted views of federalist are being confined to so called appropriate practices of those who write and enforce our righteous laws.

How did that saying go? Any government large enough to give you what you want is big enough to take away the things you need. (Not exactly how it was first worded I know)

Anonymous said...

praying does nothing anyway you know when you pray God is the guy that ignores you... 2 hands working does more than a million hands in prayer!

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