Should faith-based non-profits be free to serve consistently with their faith? That is the question in a federal case in Alaska.
The Downtown Hope Center has been serving Anchorage for more than 30 years. It started out as a soup kitchen and has expanded to not only serve about 150,000 meals each year to the homeless in Anchorage, but also provide job training skills, free clothing, laundry facilities, and showering. It even provides overnight accommodations for homeless women, many of whom have been battered or sexually abused by men.
“The City of Anchorage is now investigating Hope Center because one night a man came to the door and wanted to stay in an overnight shared sleeping facility,” says attorney Denise Harle of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization representing Downtown Hope Center.
“He was visibly drunk, he was injured – he had been in a fight – and the director of Hope Center paid for him to get a taxi to the hospital, but did not allow him to stay in the facility with the women,” the attorney continues. “And now Anchorage is going after the Hope Center saying that they have discriminated based on sex and gender identity because this particular biological man identifies as a woman.”
ADF attorneys argue that Downtown Hope Center didn’t deny the individual on that basis. “Regardless, the ordinance specifically exempts homeless shelters,” the legal group states on its website. “ADF attorneys asked the federal district court in Alaska to stop Anchorage officials from misapplying a city ordinance against the ministry.”
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SOURCE: One News Now, Chris Woodward