Thursday, March 22, 2018

Christian Group Not Allowed to Give Out Free Water in 112 Degree Heat

August 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles, World News


PHOENIX – The City of Phoenix could face a lawsuit if the city doesn’t apologize to a Valley woman for telling her she could not hand out free bottled water to people in the summer heat.

Dana Crow-Smith said a City of Phoenix worker came up to her during the First Friday festival in downtown Phoenix last month and told her she was violating city code by handing out free water because she did not have a permit.

Crow-Smith and a group of others were there exercising their Christian beliefs by engaging people to talk about religion if they wanted.

The group brought several cases of bottled water to give away in the 112-degree heat, but said a Neighborhood Preservation Inspector told the group they had to stop handing out the water or would be cited.

“It was really hot and yeah we wanted to show God’s love and a small act of kindness is a great way to do that without shoving it down someone’s throat,” said Crow-Smith.

The Rutherford Institute , a non-profit civil liberties organization, stepped in to represent Crow-Smith and calls this is “a violation of Crow-Smith’s First Amendment right to freely exercise her religion, her Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, as well as Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act.”

“It is a sad day when local government officials prohibit Americans from such charitable acts as giving water to the thirsty in their city,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

In a letter to the city , Whitehead demanded the City issue a formal, written apology to Crow-Smith, assure her no City officials will interfere in future with her distribution of water, and require City workers go through training on the proper enforcement of the City’s code.

If not, a lawsuit could follow.

A city spokesperson was working on a statement but did not have one ready by the end of the business day Monday.

But Crow-Smith said she hopes to avoid a lawsuit and just wants to be able to hand out water.

“But I don’t think it’s even about religious beliefs. I think anybody should be able to giveaway water on the sidewalk to anybody. It’s hot and it’s a nice thing to do,” said Crow-Smith.

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One Response to “Christian Group Not Allowed to Give Out Free Water in 112 Degree Heat”
  1. Of all the ridiculous things I have read lately (it is election year, after all), this has to top them all! Now, if they had been proselytizing and requiring some sort of commitment in order to receive water, that would be another kettle of fish altogether, but this woman – who took to heart Christ’s words, and was offering a cup of water for His sake (literally translated as a “cup of cool,”) and there was IMHO no crime. I am assuming that the water bottles were sealed and previously unopened. Opened bottles or unsealed ones would definitely be a warning sign of some possible malicious act; but my understanding is that those water bottles were straight from the store.

    What was going through the mind of the person who cited her? What frightened him/her? Perhaps their ill will was prompted by a case of severe dehydration of the spirit. While I will continue to pray for Ms. Crow-Smith and her group’s efforts to offer some relief to anyone who passes by on a blisteringly hot day, I will be praying first and foremost for the city of Phoenix and its workers who would feel prompted to prohibit an act of kindness – in whoever’s name it was offered. It would probably be a mistake, however, to manage this case, from a legal standpoint, as a “freedom of religion” case – since there was not ostensibly (according to the above article) a religious act. People were offered the opportunity to share with them their faith, it was not demanded of them. I feel it should fall under the “Good Samaritan” act – at least in part.

    Prayer is definitely in order for all those people involved. As we await the outcome of this matter, I believe that I will make it my business to go out and offer a cup of cool in the name of Christ.

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