Texas Woman Fined for Feeding the Homeless Cites Religious Freedom Law

Joan Cheever, a San Antonio woman who’s been feeding the homeless for the past decade, is arguing that Texas’ religious freedom law should protect her from the $2,000 fine she’s facing for her charitable work. Cheever was cited by police last week for handing out food in a local park. She argues the Religious Freedom Restoration Act legalizes her activities.

According to the San Antonio Express News, which we saw via Raw Story, Cheever, a chef, runs a nonprofit food truck called the Chow Train, promising healthy, gourmet meals to the hungry. She says she’s been feeding people at Maverick Park since 2005 without incident, until last week, when four bike patrol officers ticketed her for providing food out of a vehicle other than her food truck.


Cheever told WOAI she believes that both the Constitution’s provisions on free exercise of religion as well as Texas’ fifteen-year-old Religious Freedom Restoration act—enacted well before it became a national trend—should protect her feeding the homeless. She claims the police disagreed: “One of the police officers said, ‘Ma’am, if you want to pray, go to church,’ And I said, ‘This is how I pray. When I cook this food and deliver it to the people who are less fortunate.”

Cheever’s citation carries a fine of up to $2,000. Her court date is in June; she’s said she’ll cite the RFRA in her defense.

Unlike, say, homosexuality or abortion, Jesus had a great deal to say about feeding the hungry. From Matthew 25:

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’


Presumably, though, when Jesus handed out loaves and fishes during his speaking engagements, he had all the proper permits in place.

Image via Shutterstock

Share This Story

Get our newsletter