Don’t Feed The Local Citylife: Man Arrested for Feeding Homeless in Orlando

jesus_feeds_5000Eric Montanez faces a curious criminal charge in Orlando, Florida: feeding hungry people. The good people of Orlando, Florida have decided to join other cities in making it a crime to feed poor and hungry people caught up in this recession. Even at Yellowstone you are simply asked not to feed the bears, but in Orlando feeding the hungry will get you arrested. There was a guy in the New Testament that did such things and look where that got us.

Orlando’s ordinance makes it a crime to feed groups of 25 or more people in parks and other public property within two miles of City Hall without a special permit. While most of the witnesses at the hearing testified against the ordinance, it was supported by a small group of businesses objecting to the gathering of poor people and the trash that they left. (Of course, one could easily see an ordinance that ticketed groups that do not clean up after such distributions of food).

The Orlando ordinance would make Jesus as habitual offender in Orlando. After the twenty-fifth fish was handed out, it apepars that Orlando would have thrown him into the pokey. Matthew 14:13-21 reads like a nightmare of a recidivist food felon in Orlando:

Jesus withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said.

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

5000! That is a lot more than 25. Unfortunately, those Roman governors were not as vigilant as the Orlando City Council. It may be true that “where two or three have come together in my name” (Matthew 18:20) there may be God, but there will not be lunch if they bring 22 others.

The ordinance can probably pass constitutional review. However, cities have generally allowed food bank so long as they do not prepare food without a permit. They can distribute the food at the site and they are required to clean the surrounding area of resulting trash.

For the full story, click here.

16 thoughts on “Don’t Feed The Local Citylife: Man Arrested for Feeding Homeless in Orlando”

  1. However, them Texas bible-belts is tougher n’ sneakier than black-belts with god in their corner:

    {Quote: “But Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, which fought efforts to water down evolution education, was less satisfied.

    “Although teachers won’t be able to teach the “weaknesses” of the theory, she complained that “the document still has plenty of potential footholds for creationist attacks on evolution to make their way into Texas classrooms.”

    “Through a series of contradictory and convoluted amendments, the board crafted a road map that creationists will use to pressure publishers into putting phony arguments attacking established science into textbooks,” she said.End Quotes}

  2. It’s now reported that the abstentions come from those member states protesting the resolution.

    Not voting is some protest, geniuses. I know people who didn’t vote in 2004 as a protest and look how well that worked out for the U.S.

    You really object? You should have voted against it.

  3. Speaking of freedom of speech, the UN has really dropped the ball as have the member nations who abstained from the vote. What were you thinking? Besides “Let’s kiss up to the terrorist fundamentalist elements of Islam” that is?


    I’ll criticize any religion I want whether you or the practitioners of said religion like it or not and I’ll especially go out of my way to do so if they are a retrograde and repressive force in the world.

    Deal with it, Sharia capitulating toadies.

    I’ve always defend the utility of your organization. Well, from me, my grandfather and the ghost of Jefferson, I offer the UN a great big “Screw you!”. The gesture I’m making? It doesn’t mean I’m a Centurion looking for new members to join the Legion. Defend yourself from now on, you fundie boot licking weasels.

  4. Eric’s lawyer (really!):

    Congratulations. I must say that I never knew there were ‘poverty lawyers’. As an atheist, I will not “god bless” but rather commend you for protecting–or attempting to protect–the constitutional rights of the homeless; a demographic that likely will increase exponentially given the current economic crisis.

    My next step is to read your blog and figure out how in the world you make a living; the professorship, I imagine.

    Thank you for your follow-up to this legal issue.

  5. ERic’s Lawyer:

    This almost slipped by me. Great work to protect a right of Free Speech, but I consider it half a victory. Had the mayor not proven the suppression of free sppech motive for the law out of his own mouth, Professor Turley may well have been right. I find this a substantive right unto itself even if no message is meant to be conveyed. Even the Romans and the Sanhedrin* encouraged giving alms to the poor, and doing so in private was as favored as doing so in public–maybe more so.


    *Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

  6. “The ordinance can probably pass constitutional review.”

    Well, no, the ordinance has been declared unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds — both religious and political free speech. You can read the decision here.

    And Eric was aquitted after a jury trial.

    You can read up-to-date reports about what’s going on in Orlando and other homelessness issues at the 13th juror.

  7. I agree with the comments, but don’t we really understand that this is about the tourist dollar and Orlando’s image? The “excess garbage” thing is just an excuse to hang their actions on.

  8. “Within two miles of City Hall?”

    What is this, “It’s okay as long as city officials don’t have to look at the icky hungry people?” What the hey?

  9. isnt this just another case of government limiting our liberties? If I want to feed the homeless that is my right as a citizen of a free country. However I do agree that you would need to clean up if required.

  10. The right to give alms to the poor existed since the dawn of civilization and thrived in both western and eastern civilizations. Jewish law even held that the poor are entitled to charity, not out of benevolence but as a matter of right. The right to make gifts and the right to receive gifts under certain circumstances is protected by the common law too.

    I believe it a fundamental human right* to assist those in need and those that the government abandons or under-serves, and I believe the government must show a compelling need to deny this right. Picking up a few bags of trash would not met this standard by the way. If ever there was a case for the 9th Amendment this is it. From the Virginia Resolution of Ratification (1788):

    “…That there are certain natural rights of which men, when they form a social compact cannot deprive or divest their posterity, among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. Second. That all power is naturally vested in and consequently derived from the people; that Magistrates, therefore, are their trustees and agents and at all times amenable to them. Third, That Government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the People; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind….”

    * Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights seems also in accord.

  11. I wonder how the supporters of this ordinance feel about Matthew 25:31-46?

  12. What would one expect from a City where Disney is the main industry and tourism consists of riding amusement park rides and watching the abuse of captive dolphins?

Comments are closed.