When Christian Communities Clash: Tent City and the Debate over Sheltering the Homeless

By Courtney Goodheart.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 5, 2014 $US5.00

This paper explores the conflicts arising from St. Brendan’s Catholic Church’s decision to offer sanctuary to a homeless encampment on its property. On one front, church officials battled the City of Bothell, Washington in court over the church’s constitutional right to shelter the homeless. On another front, St. Brendan’s became ensnared in debates with members of the First Baptist Church and parents of children at Heritage Christian School about the “appropriate” Christian response to homelessness. These arguments centered on what form of “compassion” should be demonstrated, how best to “care” for the homeless, and what it means to be a “good neighbor.”

Keywords: Homelessness, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, March 2014, pp.27-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 5, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 393.788KB)).

Courtney Goodheart

PhD Candidate, Jourmalism and Mass Communication, University of Colorado - Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Courtney Goodheart is a PhD Candidate at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the department of Journalism and Mass Communication where she examines public reactions to homeless encampments in King County, Washington. Courtney holds an MA in International Political Economy from the University of Tsukuba (Japan) and a BS in East Asian Languages from Georgetown University.