Feeding the homeless is one of the many charitable acts of numerous religious organizations. It is truly an act of human kindness and should be viewed in that way. Because of the nature of such an act, it is surprising that there are laws that actually limit the number of times per week that a church is allowed to provide meals to the homeless.
In one Oregon city, a new ordinance went into effect in the fall of 2021 that mandates that churches must obtain a permit to offer meals to the homeless and imposes a limit of free meals to two times a week. This may be an issue for many religious institutions because doing charitable acts is a large part of what churches do. The law also arguably squelches the institution’s first amendment rights.
According to news reports, the city council of Brookings passed the ordinance in response to complaints from residents who said charities were creating problems for the town by inviting homeless people to free meals. Churches were the only institutions in Brookings that were engaged in regularly feeding the homeless.
An Episcopalian church has filed suit against the city, arguing that the ordinance violates its first amendment right to free exercise of religion
Seeking legal counsel
There are many challenges that nonprofit, religious organizations face on a regular basis. It involves a lot more than weekly services and prayers. Seeking the advice of a lawyer with expertise in and experience with religious matters may prove to be extremely valuable to you if you are facing opposition and that opposition is making your religious work difficult to carry out.
A knowledgeable Oregon lawyer can help you to face difficult legal issues head on and can educate you and explain the options that are available so that you can face the challenges together for a hopefully favorable outcome.