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Letter: Churches should run homeless shelters

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The Homeless Coalition meeting in Bismarck on July 13 was heartbreaking for me. I am advocating for a downtown mission and homeless shelter in Dickinson to be run by Christian volunteers to provide a warm place, some food and a listening ear.

A Christian mission wouldn't have to evaluate for and turn away or segregate alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally ill and sex offenders, all deemed "unshelterable" by the coalition. Unfortunately, many Christian missions and shelters also exclude the socially defective. Why?

What caused Nazi Germany to try to purify their populace? Is the same thing happening to us? Germany had become increasingly secular with only 10 percent of the population attending church in some areas in the 1930s. The last statistic I heard for America was 25 percent regular church attendance. The Germans turned more and more to government to solve their problems forgetting about God.

Have we not demonized sex offenders as much as the Nazis scapegoated the Jews? A police chaplain said that sex offenders absolutely could not be let into a shelter even in 60-below weather because they would be beat up if their label was discovered. Wasn't it so much easier to discriminate by skin color? It's just so inconvenient to try and determine who the chemically imbalanced are and what kind of chemical imbalance they have so we can "treat" them so they'll not be safety threats to the community.

Labeling people as inferior, incompetent and defective because of chemical imbalances, and regarding them as slaves to chemistries or chemicals is just as wrong and as insane as the belief 200 years ago that people with black skin were a sub-species and born to be slaves.

Christian missions can offer spiritual healing; but in order for them to work better than public shelters, the disease theory for mental illnesses and addictions must be rejected.

Marilyn Schoenberg, Hebron

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