Church Group Targeted By City For Feeding Homeless

An evangelical Church in Olympia, Washington who’s ministry is feeding the homeless, is currently fighting attempts to have their work criminalized by the city.

Ben Charles, founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, has fed the area’s homeless population every Thursday and Saturday from the same parking lot for the last two years, handing out as many as 5,000 meals per month.

“As anyone who works with the impoverished will know, the best and sometimes the only way to help them is to meet them right where they are, rather than expect them to come to you,” said Charles.

Although the group has had a long and highly supported presence in the area, complaints began arising regarding issues such as vehicle traffic being blocked from the growing number of hungry people coming to be fed. In October, Charles received notice from the Olympia Police Department that his group would no longer be allowed to use the lot, although unable to cite any law broken.

Despite the city’s attempts, Crazy Faith politely declined to comply, saying the lot was the only area available to use. Charles, who is of Native American decent, refused to give up the Native tradition of helping others in his community.

“We and our street family are the public and we are peacefully gathering together for our common good. That is the birthright not only of Native people, but the constitutional right of all Washingtonians,” Charles said.

Unsuccessful in getting the group to vacate, the city is now attempting to use red-tape and bureaucracy by passing a new ordinance that would require the group to purchase permits for any activity in city-owned parking lots. Using any lot without permission from the city government could result in fines and jail time.

During a Tuesday City Council meeting, the council voted 6-1 to send the ordinance to a second reading, opposing ministry supporters in attendance.

Essentially, as the economy continues to weaken, pushing more Americans into hardship, cities like Olympia, Washington and others are trying to force Churches and Ministry groups from actively attempting to evangelize or feed the helpless without first paying for a permit. The only problem that these governments have, is that pursuant to 26 USC 508(c)(1)(a), churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches are MANDATORILY exempted from any form of taxation. A permit could be defined as an imposed tax by a city government (something that a Church is exempted entirely from). Unfortunately, when a Church incorporates itself under 501c3, they loose their 26 USC 508(c)(1)(a) status and their Church ceases to be a Church and is now fully recognized as a, “Creature of the State”. When this happens, they can attempt to impose fines, permits and taxes to these groups and treat them like another incorporated entity (not a good thing). This is why we need more ministries like Crazy Faith to terminate their prior 501c3 status and come under the jurisdiction of 508c1a with the help of a Corporation Sole. By doing so, it would significantly help groups like Crazy Faith Ministries be effective when representing themselves before the council there in Olympia or in front of a judicial officer. Without having a true 508 status with a Corporation Sole, Church groups like Crazy Faith Ministries will continued to be bullied by councils across America.

By Joshua Kenny-Greenwood

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