Fined for Feeding Homeless, Woman Says Her Religious Freedom Is Under Attack

Fined for Feeding Homeless, Woman Says Her Religious Freedom Is Under Attack

A Texas chef turned a “religious freedom” bill on its head when she told police this week that the controversial legislation protects her right to feed the homeless in her city.

Joan Cheever has been serving restaurant-quality meals to homeless people from her nonprofit truck, dubbed the “The Chow Train,” in a downtown San Antonio park for 10 years. But on Tuesday police issued her a citation for allegedly serving food without a permit. The citation could cost her up to $2,000, Mic reports.

“I have a legal right to do this,” Cheever told the police officer who stopped her, citing the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Cheever told Mic that as a Catholic, her charitable acts are how she prays, so they should be protected under the act.

So-called “religious freedom” bills like the one Cheever cited have sparked controversy in recent months as some Christian small-business owners have said they have the right to refuse services to the LGBT community, such as baking their wedding cakes or photographing the big day. Indiana’s bill in particular landed in the spotlight as advocacy groups around the country challenged it, saying it was a thinly veiled way to legalize discrimination. Though Indiana ultimately watered down its bill after boycotts and protests, at least 28 states have introduced similar legislation, according to the Human Rights Commission.

“I am not enabling people on the street,” read a post from Cheever on the Chow Train Facebook page. “I am just trying to give them a safe, hot, and catered meal until they can get their life together. I should be writing you all a citation for violating the 1st amendment, the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Texas Religious Freedom act that protects our right to share food.”

Cheever plans to challenge the citation in court on June 23. 

Related stories on TakePart:

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Homelessness Declines, but the Rent Is Still Too Damn High

A Paycheck Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Go Hungry in America

Original article from TakePart