Churches play vital role after storms

A no-red-tape response
While some traditional disaster responders have been faulted for their slow pace in reacting to Hurricane Katrina, many religious organizations quickly welcomed, clothed and fed thousands of storm victims. Their no-red-tape response—continued after Hurricane Rita’s follow-up punch—reflects a trend in which faith-based organizations play an increasing role in functions traditionally performed by the government and secular charities.

The activity has some Gulf Coast area church leaders and government officials—emboldened by the large role that houses of worship assumed after the storms—saying they want congregations to do even more.

“We have seen a paradigm shift,” said Chip Hale, senior pastor at Spanish Fort (Alabama) United Methodist Church. “In America, since the 1930s or ’40s, we’ve thought the government was going to do it. Now we realize the church is going to have to do it.”


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