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World’s Richest Country Makes Feeding the Poor Illegal 

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Me sitting with Doinita, a Romanian Pentecostal who has to beg to survive

Me sitting with Doinita, a Romanian Pentecostal who has to beg to survive

I wish this was a joke. The government of Norway will soon make begging illegal. Many have already pointed out how ironic this is since Norway is in the top five of richest countries in the world (in fact, if you exclude city-states from the list, that have an unfair chance of climbing the top of it, Norway is the richest country in the world). But the madness doesn’t end there. When details in the law proposal were released two days ago, it turned out that the government also wants to criminalize those who help begging people:

The scope of the law, which was originally intended to ban homeless people from begging on the street, has been extended to also criminalise those offering money or other help… Under the law, organised begging would become a crime, punishable with a prison sentence of up to one year. The same punishment would apply to those aiding beggars.

Some of you may recall that a town called Fort Lauderdale in Florida has inforced a similar law, so that 90-year-old Arnold Abbott was arrested when he was handing out food to homeless people through his organization Love Thy Neighbor. I wrote a blog post about this in November last year, reflecting on how strange it is that some reach the conclusion that helping the poor is not helping the poor, while not helping the poor is in fact helping the poor.

Just like my country Sweden, Norway has had many visitors from eastern Europe that are extremely poor and marginalised, who are begging on the streets. Most of them are Romanis, the most discriminated ethnic group in Europe. In Romania, Romanis were slaves up to 1850, and even today 80 % of Romanis in the country are unemployed, 80 % lack water, sanitation or electricity and one in seven of Romani children never attend school. 30 % cannot read or write.

It’s very hard for them to get social security, and they can’t beg in Romania since it’s already illegal there. So they go abroad to find jobs or, since it’s extremely hard for them to get a job because of their lack of education and poor language skills, they beg.

The Norwegian Progress Party, which is a part of the government and has designed the anti-begging law, has stated that all Romani immigrants should disappear from Norway. A pretty racist thing to say, don’t you think? This anti-begging law, which even forbids giving a sandwhich to someone who is begging, is their way of making this a reality. Europe’s richest country criminalises Europe’s poorest people.

Most of the Romani immigrants begging on our streets are Christian. Pentecostal Christians. In my work with helping them, I pray with them, sing worship songs and greet them with “Dumnezeu să te binecuvânteze!”, God bless you. It is our brothers and sisters that the Norwegian government is targeting.

This is totally unbiblical,unacceptable and unbelievable. Scripture says:

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17)

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.  Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (Jam 5:1-6)

‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Mt 5:41-46)

Pray for Norway, for they know not what they do.

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8 Comments

  1. bratrekim says:

    Well, considering practices of norwegian Barnevernet, one can see that country on a highway to hell. I wouldn’t even transit Norway with my boy.

    I want to challenge your view on gypsies from eastern europe. Just tell me, why do they leave their country? And why did they choose a rich country instead of a normal one? Romani people in general have a very specific mentality which is seldom understood by someone who doesnt know them. I’m from Czech republic and I visit Romania regularly as my wife is a Romanca (romanian woman). I do know some gypsies. Those who are sincere believers, namely Pentecostal ones, would find a job very soon and deliver high working performance there. Transformed gypsy communities on eastern Slovakia are the evidence. Those who are not sincere will end up feeding on generous social advantages of their country. If these advantages prove insufficient, as in Romania, they go to another country with hope to bleed someone else.

    I am no racist. I grew up with gypsies. But this is the truth of my long observation. Please ask your gypsy beggars for real reasons…De ce ai venit aici? Why did they leave Romania? In the present, Romania doesnt persecute them at all!

    • Hello brother!

      There is prevalent discrimination against the Romani minority in Eastern Europe, and Romania is not an exception. A report from the EU states:

      “Many barriers limit the access of Romani women to the formal economy. Discrimination occurs when they are looking for employment. Moreover, the under-education of most Romani women is a structural limit for accessing the labour market.

      A research carried out in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia shows that one in four working Roma declares their working conditions to be less favourable than those of non-Roma doing the same job.

      Moreover, most of the university-educated Roma have found a job related to their ethnicity, such as community work, or are employed in public services dealing with Roma issues, trapped in a so-called ‘glass box’. Roma are over-represented in under–qualified employment and in the informal economy”

      “Data show higher rates of poor health and mortality among Roma than in society at large. Life expectancy of the Roma population in Eastern Europe is about 10 years less than that of the overall population.

      In Slovakia, life expectancy of Romani women is years lower than that of the majority population66. 51% of Roma women aged 16-50 living in settlements near Belgrade, Serbia, were found to be undernourished. Almost all women in Roma settlements around Belgrade smoke tobacco, many beginning at the age of 11 or 12.

      In the survey on the status of Romani women in Romania, the percentage of Romani women evaluating their health as poor was higher compared to non-Romani women.”

      http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2013/493019/IPOL-FEMM_ET%282013%29493019_EN.pdf

      Another EU report that look specificaly at Romani people in Romania states:

      “Roma people continue to be subject to discrimination as regards the access to public services, employment and media exposure, and these
      attitudes are maintained by negative stereotypes and prejudices rooted in the public consciousness.

      Whether it is about looking for a job or even about work, ethnic discrimination on the labour market has the greatest impact on the EU population. 38 % of those seeking for a job have been discriminated during the last 12 months.

      Moreover, a survey of the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union showed that discrimination made by the medical staff was highlighted as a specific problem for the Roma.”

      http://ec.europa.eu/justice/discrimination/files/roma_romania_strategy_en.pdf

      We must end these structures that discriminates, impoverishes and stigmatizes the Romani minority. It’s unacceptable that Romanis die ten years earlier than their fellow citizens. But I believe that in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can change this.

      God bless you!

      • bratrekim says:

        Well, I hate to be in a role of “conspirator”, but these statements by European union have little or no real value in depiction of the real situation. Bunch of western theorists rush into our country and comment something they don’t understand.

        It says that their working conditions are less favorable. That might be because they want only to be hired on season jobs and do not seek permanent employment.

        It says something about university educated Roma. I believe that there are exceptions, but I have never met a single university educated Roma. Adult Gypsies do not support their children in getting higher education.

        It says something about their mortality. Well I think that this has something to do with their lifestyle, not with their economical condition. And who is responsible for their lifestyle?

        It says that 38% of those seeking for a job have been discriminated. Well, tremendous part of Roma people do not seek job. They do not want to work and if they do, they are not responsible enough to keep it.

        I’m trying to say that there is a huge cultural barrier between Roma people and the rest of the world. This barrier is making it hard for them to live in modern legal countries with post-feudalistic economies. But these modern countries are not responsible for their poverty and poor health which is caused by laziness and unhealthy lifestyle, not by a caste of greedy white man. Transformation is possible in the Holy Spirit’s power and it happens quite often. But experiences from eastern Slovakia tell me that even than, it’s better for them to have their own church.

        I also invite you to the Czech Republic. You will see how these EU statements are wrong and how vast majority of Gypsies in our country get free money, refuse to work, do crime – even the organized one, abuse normal people and abuse each other. Read Prov 22:13, Tit 1:12 and 2Te 3:10. It applies to vast majority of them.

        • Hello again brother!

          I’m surprised that you refuse to acknowledge the extreme discrimination and marginalization of the Romani people in Eastern Europe. To say that a lower life expectancy has nothing to do with socio-economic condition but laziness and bad life habits, is ridiculous.

          Think of the situation of black people in South Africa. They have much lower life expectancy than whites, have a higher rate of HIV/AIDS, many children drop out of school etc. During apartheid, the racists explained this by saying that blacks are intrinsically immature, like children, and so it was their own fault that they were suffering from this. In reality, there were oppressing structures that kept them in poverty and misery.

          Your dismissal of the EU reports is silly. The parts I quoted say, among other things, that Romanis who have jobs have worse working conditions than others, and that Romanis with university degrees hardly get other jobs than those relating to Roma issues. This is NOT caused by laziness or bad life habits, but by discrimination – non-Romanis treat Romanis badly. This has to change in Jesus’ Name.

          Blessings!

  2. Hey, if I am in vacation when you decide to meet to discuss this matter I would joing you =D I’d be a “neutral” voice, since I’m not EU citizen. =D
    Just adding some humor to the discussion!
    When I was in Czech Republic, I remember of Roma people more in smaller cities. In Prague I’ve noticed that there were a lot of immigrants of other countries.

  3. bratrekim says:

    Micael,

    I have read my previous comment and your response. I may have been unclear and I apologize for that. The matter would require longer discussion. I will address two of your previous remarks and continue with further clarification.

    (1) People in South Africa aren’t living in a western country. I have spent most of my life interacting somehow with Gypsies. Some of my best friends were Gypsies! This Sunday, I heard a refreshing sermon from Gypsy preacher! And I’ve been living with Gypsy neighbours for years. They were OK. (Unlike many others.) My point is that I just didn’t see anyone offering them cigarettes and watching over their diet to keep it unhealthy. They were free to buy healthy food, do sport and not to smoke. They had their own car. They weren’t at risk of getting HIV or hepatitis, unless they would ignore common consent and advices of the physicist. By the way, they had free health insurance, unlike many US citizens.

    (2) My dismissal of EU reports is not silly, it is based on experience of millions of Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians and Bulgarians. If something that’s being said to you doesn’t mirror the reality around you, you should dismiss it, don’t you? The problem is that EU commissioners don’t know these problems from their British/German/Belgian environment. There are no problems with Gypsies in Germany or in the UK yet, because Gypsies are not there. This will, however, change, as uncontrolled waves of immigrants sets their living there. Please read this article: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/15/sheffield-page-hall-roma-slovakia-immigration What would you say? Are people of Sheffield racists? Are Gypsies being discriminated? No. I urge you again, please do not trust these particular EU reports of discrimination, as they are based on short-term observation of some particular places by people who may have studied social science, but did not manage to see the whole picture.

    If you question my credibility, which you are free to do, please ask some normal Czech, Slovak or Romanian: Would you rent a flat to an ordinary Gypsy? Would you borrow him some money? Would you lend him your property? Note some answers of people from Ostrava (Czech rep.), Košice (Slovak rep.), Oradea (Romania). Please read in detail all of the reports about “Matiční ulice” in Czech rep. and “Luník 9” in Slovak rep. I mean all of them, not an one-sided selection. Please google some photos of Luník 9. Ask someone who has been there.

    Further point: I believe that we need a definition of discrimination. Wikipedia says that “discrimination is action that denies social participation or human rights to categories of people based on prejudice.” My point here is that Gypsies in eastern countries are in no way being denied neither social participation nor their human rights. My further point here is that if any offense has been done to a Gypsy, it was result of one’s xenophobia, but of one’s experience. Prejudice and experience are two different things.

    I admit that people in my country and in Slovakia and in Romania are cautious about Gypsies. They wouldn’t lend them money, because they know that they wouldn’t get it back. (It’s interesting that reborn Gypsies almost never borrow money, because they know that this is practice of their boor kinsmen.) This cautiousness is based upon experience. What I do not admit is that being a Gypsy (having dark skin and Gypsy accent) puts you into some disadvantaged role. If you were Gypsy, I would recommend you to wash yourself, dress yourself and visit Manpower in the downtown. You’re not gonna have any problems finding a job. My irresponsible Gypsy friend found several jobs as a cook or workman within one year. He was fired several times not because of his race, but because of bringing his girlfriend to work, stealing money from the boss and being absent from work.

    Micael, I know how poverty looks like. I have family in kind of abandoned region in Romania. I would never question your passion to feed the hungry and help the oppressed. I just want to point out that poverty doesn’t have to be caused by rich people exclusively. And Gypsies are the good examples.

  4. […] World’s Richest Country Makes Feeding the Poor Illegal […]

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

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