Sunday, 14 December 2014

No room at the inn?

About a month ago, I was made aware of an apparent case of religious prejudice against people trying to help the homeless. I was reminded of it again when I saw . Then, last night, I was finally introduced to the victims of this odd incident of discrimination.
Briefly, some well meaning hippy types had managed to find a way to regularly obtain surplus vegetables from farmers and small-holders. Their plan was to cook this up and have a regular free lunch for the homeless.
First they approached the owner of an alternative cafe about running the project. He, reasonably enough, pointed out that he couldn't really offer free food to some of his regular punters and not others without confusion or arguments.
Next they approached the wardens of a church with a large hall. The wardens were totally disinterested in the whole project until the hippies offered to pay, and even then not until they offered to pay the full commercial rate expected of, say, a mid-sized business hiring the gaff for a few hours.
That was bad enough. What the hippies tell me happened next was even worse.
They suddenly got a phone-call in which one of the church wardens said that the Parish Church Council had seen fit to hold an emergency meeting. At the meeting, as far as I can tell, the PCC not only voted to refuse permission for the lunch, but to bar anyone involved from hiring the hall in future.
And here is the sick joke.....
The church hall concerned is run on the proceeds of one of the earliest ever Manx charities. The will of the Victorian benefactor provided for a school house and soup kitchen. Under the terms of this will, the property was demised to the vicar and wardens of the adjoining church “and their successors in office to be held on trust for such good and pious uses as they from time to time may determine with full power to dispose of the property and apply the proceeds to like uses.”
I should also say this is not the first story I have heard about the church involved barring use of the building for genuine community initatives, even when the organisers offer the full going commercial hire price. By comparison, pseudo-charities and snooty little cultural soirees run by well-heeled townspeople seem to find no such obstacles. Neither( it has been suggested) do some of them even pay a token hire fee.
Another funny thing. I passed by the church recently and couldn't help noticing the Baby Jesus was missing from the Nativity display.
Maybe the wardens decided there was no room for him either.

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