04/23/2012 12:43 pm ET Updated Jun 23, 2012

Serve the Community Instead of Trying to Fill Pews

I see a big problem with some churches in Kent that seem to be "competing" over how they help the homeless -- and little do they know that I've had some experiences with said churches when I first became homeless back in 2004. It's because of those experiences that I'm completely disgusted with the air of exclusivity and superiority I've seen them practice on a daily basis. The sad truth is that it's the Christian churches in Kent I'm talking about.

There's a certain group in Kent that brags about having the support of 250 churches, yet I'd like to ask them to point out on that list the Jewish synagogues or maybe the Sikh temples that live in Kent as well. Are there any Buddhists on that list? Muslims? How about any other non-Christian groups in Kent? Did you bother to invite any of them? Was the LGBT community completely left out? What about atheists? Just because they don't share your beliefs does not mean they aren't interested in serving the community they live in. Besides, how can say you serve the community if you pick and choose who gets your help?

It's all well and good to pat yourselves on the back for handing out sandwiches in the parks or maybe offering a place to shower or washing a sleeping bag -- but you need to include the ENTIRE community to provide permanent housing for all the homeless people existing in Kent because the homelessness problem in Kent is not going away and the numbers are only going to increase. Just because you help a homeless person does not mean they're interested in being converted. That's exactly why a lot of homeless people can't stand "churchies."

Although I will work with any group committed to getting homeless people housed in real time, that does not mean I will favor one group over another. If anyone out there has those expectations or is under that impression, you are sadly mistaken. Groups must work together to solve a crisis that affects everybody, not just members of their own churches. If I, as a homeless person, can see that, why can't you?

For any group to go out and completely disregard somebody else's faith by thinking they can proselytize them out of their religion and into theirs is not only offensive, it's disrespectful and, what's more, rather disturbing when done with an air of self-righteousness as though that legitimizes rude behavior.

You serve the community because it needs to be done, not because you want to fill seats in your church.