The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
Utahns got a good glimpse of evil last month. It didn’t come from an ‘R-rated’ movie, a physical assault, or a documentary on the Holocaust. Nope, it came from the mouths of supposedly moral and fine-thinking citizens at a Draper City informational meeting.
For those who aren’t acquainted with Draper, it is an upper-middle class Salt Lake City suburb with a low proportion of minorities. Almost everyone seems to profess the same religion and subscribe to the same political party. If you value diversity, Draper is not your gal.
With the exception of the soon-to-be-demolished state prison, Draper doesn’t usually make headlines until last week when the mayor introduced the idea that the community accept a resource center offering drug treatment, job information, health exams, and temporary housing for homeless individuals, especially women and children needing shelter. Gee, you’d have thought the mayor proposed a nuclear waste facility.
If given a choice, few of us would celebrate the location of a homeless shelter next to our home. In fact, the same could be said for a 24-hour convenience store, a liquor store, a skyscraper, a used car lot, or a neighbor who raises pigs. However, we are not always in control of zoning. We can’t all live next to a park or a waterfall. Sometimes we have to accept and embrace that we are part of a community.
In the most recent past, many Draper citizens signed petitions opposing (gasp!) a Deseret Industries store in their city. A Nordstrom would have been fine, but not a store catering to “those people” who might not drive a Lexus or own an Apple watch. But the D.I. furor was nothing compared to last month’s 1,000-person gathering to squelch the idea of helping the homeless.
The mayor spoke out. He was booed. The county mayor offered his opinion. He was booed. Threats were also made, anger spewed…and then a homeless man, a non-smoking, non-drinking, and non-drug addicted guy who is homeless since what little money he has goes to house his ex-wife and daughter, made his way to the podium.
And he was booed. Those upstanding Draperites didn’t want people like him in their ZIP code.
I assume that the majority of those people booing him put on their white shirts and ties and pretty dresses and attend church nearly every Sunday. They probably feel they are upholding a strict standard of morality, and I’m sure that they profess their love of Jesus.
Yet, they have forgotten one of the basic tenets of that roving messiah: Treat the least among us as if they were the Lord. Too many of those Draper folk forget that religion – true religion – is a form of walking, not talking.
Unfortunately, they think that Jesus really cares about property values.
The homeless come in all categories. While they don’t wear Brooks Brothers suits, many are coming off a hard luck experience. Without a physical address, they cannot easily find employment. A good share are seeking hope, not a meth pipe. And, yes, some need to go to jail, while others need counseling and substance abuse help enroute to giving them a second or third chance.
What they don’t need is derision and scorn from Draperites who have generally had a better crack at life and think they are moral because they spurn tobacco and wine, and financially donate to their church.
They might think they know Jesus, but in reality He is just a painting in a frame hanging in their living room.