To the editor:
I was repulsed to read Allen Garr's op-ed that cheered the expulsion of Rev. Ric Matthews from the First United Church for the Christ-like crime of helping the poor and sick, because this contravened the laws of Imperial Rome-excuse me, I should say the Vancouver Fire Code. The church elders who forced Matthews out are like the Pharisees of Jesus's time. They proudly proclaimed their righteousness as they upheld the legalistic pieties of the Hebrew Church. But they neglected the higher calling of helping the downtrodden.
What's worse-an overcrowded facility with unpleasant people who don't follow the rules, or dying of exposure huddled in a doorway? I'd say death is the worse option. But the church Pharisees and city brass are more worried about insurance companies and lawyers than they are about dead people. It's a chaotic mess at the First United Church, but it's a mess that saves lives.
I work with the mentally ill. Many are from the Downtown Eastside. They're not easy to help. They argue, fight, refuse to do what's sensible and ingest all sorts of substances they shouldn't. I do my best to help them, in part because I'm paid to do so, but also because I believe that a society with high moral values should do as much as it can to help the least among us. Pastor Matthews seems to believe the same thing. So did the historical figure known as Jesus, if we are to believe the official story propagated by Christian churches. Someone should tell the First United Church Pharisarchy and Garr about this Jesus fellow, eh?
Richard Buck, Vancouver