An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The juxtaposition of charity and christianity

Every Monday volunteers with the Missionaries of Charity turn up and do a soup run near Westminster Cathedral in the centre of London. On any one night there are up to 150 homeless people in the vicinity. That's a staggering amount of people who need feeding. The homeless are extremely grateful to the Charity for this food handout. However, this soup run is in danger of being scrapped because some councillors don't like the way it attracts large numbers of homeless people to the area. Apparently, homeless people have turned parts of Westminster Borough into anti-social areas.
I am reminded of the time I was on holiday in India and the tour guide told us not to give any money to the begging and starving children because 'it will attract more of them'. Others who have been to places like Egypt tell me that tour guides there warn of the same. When did poverty become a pest control program in the way we don't leave food scraps lying around on the kitchen floor in case it attracts rats? These people who turn up with their hands outstretched are human beings. They may be smelly, dirty and disease afflicted from sleeping rough but they still command the basic rights of humanity.
The proposal to ban the Charity is also backed on the grounds that food handouts only serve to keep people on the streets longer. Apparently it stops people facing up to the reality of the harmful lifestyle they have adopted. The flipside of the former comment could be taken to read that starving the homeless will see them off the streets for good; and the latter implies that every homeless people has chosen to be a wanderer, as if it were an indulgence to be homeless.
I have spoken to a number of homeless people and they are there NOT through choice. A handful, perhaps, have bought into an ideology of living without ties to a structure or a place but I don't think the majority would choose to spend cold winter nights on a pavement.
The fact that the soup run in danger of being scrapped takes place by a cathedral makes it all the more sad. The concept of juxtaposition makes us stop to look at our surroundings. The juxtaposition of charity and religion is not just a textual concept; it lives and breathes and reaches out to people who cannot fend for themselves. I sincerely pray that this soup run will not be banned.


  1. Hi Nancy,
    Thank you for your comment. It's a sad reflection of our times when food given to the needy is under debate.

  2. Dear MP,
    Are you referring to my post or the subject of my blog post? The latter I hope.
    Nice to 'see' you on my blog.

  3. Of course, the latter. I am not in the habit of insulting women who could easily get on a train and come up and thump me :-)