WHEELING, W.Va. – The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU-WV) recently represented Catholic Worker Kate Marshall in successfully securing a permit to continue using her Wheeling home, known as the House of Hagar, to provide hospitality to those in need in accordance with her religious beliefs. The permit had been questioned by the Wheeling Planning Commission after neighbors came forward complaining about the individuals utilizing the space.
Following the Catholic Worker Movement tradition, Kate opens her home to individuals in need for weekly dinners and laundry service among other efforts to support the community. In 2016, the Planning Commission required Kate and the House of Hagar to obtain a permit due to concerns raised about parking and other neighborhood issues. The initial report issued by the city last summer recommended withdrawing the permit. However, after a thorough investigation, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to allow Kate to continue living her faith.
The following statements can be attributed to Kate Marshall of House of Hagar Catholic Worker House:
“As a Catholic Worker family we are called by Christ to live out the Works of Mercy (Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Visit the sick, Visit the imprisoned, Shelter the homeless ,and bury the dead) in an intentional manner and love our neighbors, all of them, regardless of how much money they have. In fact, Catholic Social Teachings says that there is an ‘Option for The Poor and Vulnerable’, and that our faith teaches we have a greater responsibility to care for and love the poor and marginalized. For us, living next-door to a homeless shelter, and next to those living in tents or under bridges, means including these folks in our friendship, fellowship ,community activities and family. It means caring for those we love by washing clothes, letting someone take a shower, praying with them, helping fill out paperwork, or driving someone to an appointment, but mostly it means being welcomed into the hospitable Love of God's family.”
“We thank the ACLU of WV for helping protect and defend our 1st Amendment Rights to practice our Faith as Catholic Workers, and our right to love our neighbors, as part of our faith, particularly the ones so often forgotten or excluded in society.”
The following statements can be attributed to Jamie Lynn Crofts, Legal Director of the ACLU-WV:
“Freedom of religion is one of our foundational constitutional principles, and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Article 3, Section 15 of the West Virginia Constitution and both federal and state civil rights law. It’s important that the government can’t use even generally applicable laws, like zoning laws, to infringe upon people’s religious practice.
As the United States Supreme Court made clear in Barnette v. West Virginia Board of Education nearly years ago, ‘The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.’
Kate Marshall lives her faith in a truly inspirational way and I am proud the ACLU-WV was able to help House of Hagar continue its mission to make West Virginia an even better and more welcoming place than it is already.”