Today, I want to call attention to one of the men’s shelters in Baltimore, and that’s the infamous Baltimore Rescue Mission, in downtown Baltimore. I call this commentary “In the Company of Hypocrites,” referring to people who play church, so to speak, one hour and then the next hour, curse and brag about their addictions. This characterization does not leave out the Mission staff itself; they, too, practice hypocrisy. 

I find the Mission rules too strict and ridiculous. I can understand that a person sleeping during chapel service can be a little annoying. However, these men come in at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and at 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and from then on, are required to attend a chapel service for a full hour. This is seven days a week. These men, or many of them, at least, have worked all day and are dog tired. The chapel service notwithstanding, many can’t help but sleep. It’s understandable that they do. 

These men routinely get up before sunrise, hoping for a work assignment, and when they are hired, their jobs more often than not require heavy physical labor and standing. When they return to the Mission, they are totally exhausted, and so, while waiting for a meal in the chapel while a service is being conducted, many inevitably fall asleep. 

Those who do are kicked out into the freezing cold. Even your more affluent churches aren’t this strict and mindless. To toss people out into the street for simply falling asleep cannot be a Christian action. They go out into the freezing cold and snow in winter, or the pouring rain, or the heat and humidity in summer; from eight to 12 hours a day. And then, when their day’s work is over, they are often forced to wait hours for a van to pick them up to take them to the Mission. The men have put in a good, honest day’s work, and Mission staff wonders why they sleep during chapel service awaiting a meal. 

And then it’s off to bed. It’s a sad scene. 

But there is more to tell about the Baltimore Rescue Mission. The men are subjected to sleeping on mats without sheets or blankets and to my understanding, it’s been that way for several years. The staff will constantly go on quoting the Bible, but they don’t live the life of Christians. 

I must also mention the Helping Up Mission. This mission, and the Baltimore Rescue Mission, claim to be “faith-based”, but when you observe the way they are run, you would think that the devil himself was in charge. My title, “In the Company of Hypocrites”, will probably set well with a lot of the men who frequent these places. 

And the staff at these “faith-based” missions? They themselves might have been the homeless once. But now they are cleaned up and have a nice warm bed to sleep in. Many might now feel they are superior to their homeless visitors. This is commonplace in missions and shelters. They know the hymns and the handclapping, but as soon as chapel is over, it’s right back to cursing and talking about where to get a drink and where to get high and where to find them some female to have a good time with. 

I sometimes have to ask myself, what’s the purpose of all this? Hypocrites on both end. I just have to scratch my head sometimes. But as the story goes, it all started at the Garden of Eden. Maybe that’s why man is so wicked today. 

Your questions and comments are most welcome. Don’t hesitate to e-mail me, August Mallory, at [email protected]. Also, please listen to the more Betterman Show on WOL-AM, on the third Friday of the month, 2 to 4a.m., for Voices from the Corner.