Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fr. Nathan Monk protests against homeless-feeding rule

(Orlando Sentinel) - An Orthodox priest from Pensacola is coming to Orlando to lead a demonstration in support of a group that has faced legal trouble for feeding the homeless in Orlando’s Lake Eola Park.

“The criminalization of public service to the poor is to criminalize poverty itself,” said the Rev. Nathan Monk. “The continued efforts of the City of Orlando to prevent distribution of food to the poor is a violation of the constitution at its highest form. To prevent one human from reaching out to help another human in need is contrary to the decency we have all been taught from our youth.”

Monk, of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, has scheduled the protest for Saturday, July 9 at 4 p.m. at Lake Eola Park. He also plans to distribute a hot meal of bread loaves and fish to the people present at the event.

Monk, a homeless rights activist known to many as “Father Nathan,” has set up a Facebook page for the event and expects a crowd of about 300 people. He once protested an ordinance than banned panhandling in Escambia County by holding a sign bearing the words “Feed the Poor” in the areas where homeless people had formerly gathered.

Several members of the group Orlando Food Not Bombs have been arrested for violating a city rule that prohibits providing food to large groups of people in the city’s downtown parks without a permit.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has called the group’s members “food terrorists.”

Monk said he supports Food Not Bombs.

“We stand alongside Food Not Bombs and any person that wishes to distribute free food to those who are in need,” Monk said. “Beyond this, we are standing up for those who are hungry and forgotten, as it is them who are suffering at the hands of this unjust policy.”

‘Anonymous,’ a computer hacking group, has also hacked three Orlando-related websites — including the site of the city’s Chamber of Commerce — as a protest against the ordinance.


  1. I can kinda understand both sides of this debate, as I've lived in a part of town that had a lot of traffic by vagrants (one block off the Interstate), and a park nearby was a focal point for them resting during the day (when the shelter kicked everybody out for the day) and for the church groups going to feed them. The "regulars" started to recognize that I lived in the area, so I was unlikely to have any money to spare. Also, I've become cynical to the panhandlers, as I've seen with my own eyes the swindlers (one case, a trio of kids holding signs up for "band trip" or similar (on a corner near the mall), folding up their signs and taking their collection buckets straight to the ToysR'Us across the street).

    On the opposite side of the scale, one time my wife and I were eating in a burger place, saw a older man come in and order a cup of water, and as he walked out, my wife felt called to bring him a meal, so she ordered a burger and fries to go, and we caught up with the gentleman down the road. I don't know what the man's mental state was, but he vigorously refused our offer of the food, so my wife was distressed, so I took my previous knowledge of where the usual spots for those holding up those "will work for food" signs, and we drove over there and gave the meal to a very thankful man, who said he and his brother had broken down and were very hungry. We didn't see the brother, but hopefully they were able to get things taken care of.

    It redeemed my wife's thought that there are folks honestly needing the charity, and certainly I *try* to keep in mind that it doesn't matter what *they* do with any money I give them, it's more important that *I* give to them because they're in need.

  2. Is there a link to the Facebook page that is mentioned in the article? I would be interested in giving that a look-see.

  3. I couldn't find it even though I looked for a goodly amount of time. If anyone finds it, I'll add it to the story.

  4. Unless something has changed very recently, Father Nathan Monk is currently not fully an Orthodox Priest. If one were to ask him about this, I have no doubt he would concur. He and his parish have applied to become part of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, but when (or whether) this will occur is currently undetermined. I recommend the following article from a local independent newspaper that is popular in the Pensacola area, the Independent News (or IN Weekly):

    Since I know many readers may not bother to follow the link, here are a couple of quotes from the article, which was written by Grant Hutchinson: "There has been some confusion over Monk’s priesthood and to which denomination he belongs. He wears the Roman collar and black suits that many in this area associate with the Roman Catholic Church, but he is not a Roman Catholic priest.
    Monk was ordained in Nashville, Tenn. on Oct. 14, 2006 by Archbishop Wayne Booshada as a priest of the Old Catholic Church."

    "Monk has applied to switch his church and his priesthood over to the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church.
    St. Benedict Mission has become a provisional mission of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese.
    “They are not yet accepted,” said Bishop Antoun Khouri, who is in charge of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian church in the Southeast. “They are in the process, but how long will it take? Who knows?”
    Monk told the IN that he and the mission have completed all the necessary paperwork and are awaiting the final decision."

  5. I apologize to anyone who is bothered by my less-than-fully-correct use of quotation marks in the comment above. All verbiage below the weblink is directly quoted from the Independent News article, which originally was published on May 25, 2011.

  6. If Orlando, Florida has a rule that prohibits providing food to large groups of people in the city's downtown parks without a permit, then those wishing to provide food to these people should obtain a permit to do so.

    Without a permit, those who provide food to these people could be arrested. Is it that much hassle to obtain a permit from the city of Orland to feed these people?

    Another question is, What is meant by large groups of people? Is it all right in the city's view to feed small groups of people -- say 3, 5, or 10 people? That might be another option to resolve this dilemma.

  7. The issue isn't simply the requirement to obtain a permit. The issue is whether or not a city has the power to pass a law restricting the disbursal of food to people.

    It is also possible that the city would require people to get a permit, and have them jump through so many hoops that the process is simply impractical.

  8. For those of you looking here is the FB page:

  9. Except the poor can get food stamps. And they do. I wonder what they are doing with their food stamp cards.

  10. cetude suggests "let them eat cake" ... or rather, "let them get food stamps".

    Perhaps cetude has never tried to get food stamps. Perhaps cetude should find out how a homeless person is supposed to be able to get such a thing without an address, as most states will not give them to persons without an address.
    Perhaps cetude should observe the people in markets on the renewal dates for those food stamp cards, buying filling but cheap (and therefore not really nutritious) foods, trying to stretch about $100 a week across three people.
    Perhaps cetude should try living for a month on the amount of money that "the poor" have to live on.

    But would cetude learn anything from that exercise? Maybe.

  11. "Father Nathan Monk" is not an Orthodox priest. He has posted many strange and questionable videos on You Tube. He was ordained in 2006 into the Old Catholic Church, whose orders are not considered valid by the Orthodox Church. he is a Protestant in a cassock.

  12. Fr. Nathan Monk is not an Antiochian Orthodox Priest. I understand that he has been accepted by the Western Rite of ROCOR. However, Fr. John Hamatie of St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church already has a very effective and much less controversial program to feed the poor in Orlando.