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Homeless people at Camp Hope say religion not forced on them

Homeless people at Camp Hope say religion not forced on them

YAKIMA, Wash. – “That’s a joke. It’s not. We’re free to do whatever we want to do,” said Mary Fromm.

She says the idea that anyone would think that Camp Hope forces the people who stay there to engage in any type of religious activities is false. She says she’s been at the shelter for almost a year, and says she’s never experienced or witnessed anyone being forced to pray or go to church.

“We’re free to either come and go as we want. We’re free to have prayer before meals, if we wish. If we wish to go to churches, we can go to churches. Nothing is forced on us,” said Fromm.

Kimberly Lapp has lived at Camp Hope since last September, and she too says she was shocked to hear this was an issue. She echoes what Fromm says.

“Everybody from all walks of life and all religions are welcome here. Nothing is forced down anybody’s throat. There are people that don’t even believe, and they’re here, and they still feel comfortable enough to be here,” said Lapp.

Andy Ferguson of Camp Hope says the controversy between the ACLU and Camp Hope came to light when Councilwoman Kay Funk told them Camp Hope was using public dollars for religious purposes. I reached out to Councilwoman Funk and she said she didn’t have anything to say on the matter.

Ferguson says he’s upset that anyone would try to make it any more difficult to help the homeless.

“It’s really sad, even shameful in my mind that people would be working so aggressively to try to take us down, when really a simple, open, honest conversation could be much more productive. Nobody’s limited or doesn’t receive services because they don’t participate in religious activities,” said Ferguson.

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