Water is scarce in California, but not scarce enough to stop Saint Mary’s Cathedral from dumping water on the homeless in order to keep them from sleeping on its property.
The increasingly urgent drought situation in California has resulted in new restrictions on sprinklers, outdoor water use, and even serving water in restaurants and bars. But the principle church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Saint Mary’s Cathedral, didn’t get the water scarcity memo.
Instead, the church installed a system that dumps water onto the ground near its sheltered doorways, where homeless people tend to rest at night. The water pours out for about 75 seconds, every 30 to 60 minutes throughout the night. But the water dumping system is not an automated baptism device, instead it’s used to discourage homeless people from hanging out buy the church by drenching them as they sleep. Jesus would totally approve.
“They actually have signs in there that say, ‘No Trespassing,’” said a homeless man named Robert.
But there are no signs warning the homeless about the random water dumpings that occur all through the night.
“We’re going to be wet there all night, so hypothermia, cold, all that other stuff could set in. Keeping the church clean, but it could make people sick,” Robert explained.
Cathedral staff confirmed that the system had been in place for about a year, “after learning from city resources” that similar deterrents were “commonly used in the Financial District” in San Francisco.
“We do the best we can, and supporting the dignity of each person,” Archdiocese spokesperson Chris Lyford said. “But there is only so much you can do.”
Aside from opening the doors and letting them inside the church…
Given the recent backlash (and the fact that it was pointed out that they’re in violation of the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection) the cathedral has already started to remove the system.
And Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor. Unless they are homeless and have no where else to go, then periodically drench them with water until they get lost.”