Monday, January 31, 2011

Soup kitchen refuses to sign
'Anti-Terrorism Compliance Measures' form

Brendan Walsh estimates that more than 1 million people have shared meals at the Viva House soup kitchen.

A soup kitchen is refusing to certify that it does not use United Way funds to support terrorism, saying the request smacks of McCarthyism.

Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham, who since 1968 have operated Viva House soup kitchen and food pantry on Baltimore’s west side, say they were surprised to receive a letter from the United Way of Central Maryland asking them to sign and return an “Anti-Terrorism Compliance Measures” form or risk losing money that was pledged to them.

“It’s tantamount to signing a loyalty oath,” Walsh says.

For many years Viva House has gotten small amounts through United Way, the couple says. The most recent check, for $625, came in June. But never before has the United Way sent any correspondence like this.

“We continue to ‘do the works of mercy and resist the works of war,’” the couple wrote in a letter addressed to the United Way, quoting from Viva House’s mission statement. “Loyalty oaths don’t bring about unity or good health. Instead, they break us apart as a people.”

Viva House is part of the Catholic Worker Movement, co-founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin and dedicated to peace, justice, and social equality.

Read the Baltimore City Paper report here.


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