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8 Bumps

What do you think? Georgia Homeless Shelter Refuses to Serve Gays...

The House of Mercy homeless shelter in Columbus, Georgia, might want to go back and read their Bible. There's a passage in Isaiah they should pay particular attention to: "Share your bread with the hungry, take the homeless into your homes, clothe the naked when you see him/her, do not turn away from people in need."

But instead of following that line, the House of Mercy shelter has a rule on its books: if you're gay and homeless, you belong on the streets. Perhaps House of Mercy might consider a name change to House of Ignorance.

The CBS station in Columbus, WRBL, ran a story last week discussing two women who were booted out of the House of Mercy homeless shelter, because shelter staff thought they were gay. These were women who actually fled abusive homes, and as one of them told WRBL, she was expecting to be treated with compassion by the folks at House of Mercy.

"I was hoping that just by the name ... I was hoping for security," one of the women said. Instead, the woman says the way she was treated at the House of Mercy was unholy. "It was not a place of God."

The director of House of Mercy, Elder Bobby Harris, told WRBL that "practicing" gay people aren't welcome at his shelter, no matter how in need they might be.

"[Homosexuality] is not tolerated here at all. Let me tell you one reason why: because of the Bible, of course. And then we have little children ... We believe that Christ can change all. But when they begin to practice their acts," Harris says, there's nothing he can do for gay people in need.

Harris did not say where in the Bible Jesus gave permission to cast LGBT people out into the street, or refuse them service if they're needy or, in the case of these two women, fleeing violent homes. WRBL reached out to other homeless shelters in the area, and found that not a one, outside of House of Mercy, excludes gay people from being served. They interviewed Valerie McLain, who works at the Crisis Center of Russell County, and she told reporters that homeless shelters should be in the business of serving all who come through their doors, and not revictimizing those in need.

"We welcome anyone that is a victim. That's who we serve. We have no discrimination. We make no discrimination with anyone. We're not in the business of revictimizing the victim," McLain said.

Sounds like the House of Mercy not only needs to re-read their Bible, but they could also stand to learn a few lessons in service from other shelters in the area.

Meanwhile, here's the real kicker: the two women at the center of this controversy? They say they're not even gay, which means that the House of Mercy denied them service based on rumors or bad information. Still, one of the women told WRBL that even if she was gay, she would hope a homeless shelter would have enough compassion to help her out.

"If I was gay, and I had all these other issues and I came [to the House of Mercy], is that what you do to people going through stuff?" she asked.

Apparently so. How about sending the House of Mercy a message that this policy of excluding gay people is not only inconsiderate, it runs counter to the supposed religious teachings they hold dear. Check out the story below from WRBL for more information, and to see Elder Bobby Harris actually say on camera that it's his Christian duty to deny homeless gay people service.

Answer Question

Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 7:12 PM on Jan. 17, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (45)
  • that's really not surprising at all, many churches are like this. my cousin found that out when she came out at 20, even her family wont talk to her, her VERY christian family

    Answer by angevil53 at 7:15 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • I think that's HORRIBLE! Gay or not, a homeless person doesn't DESERVE to live on the streets! =( There's a house of mercy here where I live (in va!) I was thinking about donating clothes to them, but I will have to check there ''policy'' first, because if they stand the same as this one, they're out of the question!!!

    Answer by knicole0708 at 7:16 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • I think it's cruel to exclude someone because of their sexual preference. If they were engaging any public sex acts, they should have been kicked out (as a hetero couple should be), but because the staff "thought" they were gay?? Ridiculous.

    Answer by Scuba at 7:18 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • I hope if they receive even a penny of government funding for anything they do, it's revoked immediately.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 7:21 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • I think it's wrong, if they are in need they should be helped.


    Answer by RyansMom001 at 7:22 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • I find this pathetic.

    Answer by zebbiebug at 7:23 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • It might be wrong but if they are running a homeless shelter and it is not state or federally funded they can do whatever they want to. That is just the way of things. And for as many people who think this is wrong, there are just as many (just not openly) saying good for them.

    Answer by gemgem at 7:27 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • Wow, what good Christians these people are! (heavy, heavy sarcasm)

    Answer by sweetpotato418 at 7:29 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • I think it's stupid and very un-Christian of them. However, shelters refuse to help people for all kinds of reasons. A few here refuse to allow addicts and alcoholics stay there unless they want to quit their habit. Since most don't want to, they just stay on the streets and refuse help. Now, refusing to help people based on sexual preference is a different story, I know, but it that's just the way it is unfortunately.

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 8:13 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

  • It does not surprise me, and then they call themselves good Christians, or even Christians, compassion for only a selected few. They can do whatever they want but don't hide behind God to turn anyone in need away.

    Answer by older at 8:16 PM on Jan. 17, 2011

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