Prayer, a religious activity, is the center of some controversy in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. A food bank there asks to pray with people when they come in. The state is saying they can't do that and still get the federal emergency assistance food that makes up 15% of what they distribute.
The state has already come in and taken the food out of the pantry in Seymour. That food will be redistributed between 3 other pantries in Jackson County Indiana.
Now it's important to note: most of the food pantries in Indiana are faith-based pantries... per a state administrator. Most of them find a way to comply with the rules.
Paul's thought a lot about it... you can tell when you talk to him. People have tried to convince him to do different things to be in compliance with the "rules." But he says no... he believes the prayer is too important.
The pantry doesn't "require" anyone to pray... the volunteers just ask if you'd like to pray... and Paul believes he has a right to ask and people have a right to do what they want. He showed us the guidelines... which say you can't make religious activities a "requirement" for food. State administrators say that even asking can make people feel like they have to pray in order to get the help they need. Paul has appealed to the state to give him back the food. He is still waiting on their answer.
Paul told me last night as I was leaving that he never thought this was what he'd take a stand for. He's a military guy... a Marine. But he laughed a bit thinking about it because for him it was a no-brainer. He said... if you cant stand for what you believe in, what can you stand for?
He says... he believe in God. He believes in heaven and hell... and he believes in the power of prayer. The food for the pantry is starting to come in from other places... other donations. He says he can see his prayer is being answered.
I'd love to hear your opinions... I've tried very, very hard to leave my thoughts out of this one. I know this one will stir up lots of thoughts and that is what blogging is all about. Share your thoughts... please, just respect each others opinions.