In a viral Facebook video, Capt. Higgins explains that he believes turning to God is truly a warranted response:
“This flood is biblical in proportion and I believe it certainly calls for a biblical response.”
Higgins, who’s also running for Congress, says Louisiana and America are places where neighbors rally together to help one another in their time of need, and he’s seen much of that in the past few weeks.
But when he stopped by the Heymann Center in Lafayette to visit with displaced flood victims, Red Cross volunteers reportedly made him leave after he began comforting and praying with the evacuees.
“Our First Amendment rights include the freedom of religion and the free practice thereof. But moreover, man, bigger than our own First Amendment, what’s wrong with offering love and prayer to people that are in a shelter?”
Nancy Malone, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, told The Advocate that her organization has a policy “intended to be respectful of all faiths,” but things would have been different for Higgins if he simply would have approached managers about the issue.
What’s interesting is that the Red Cross even has a Spiritual Prayer Team in place that responds to natural disasters. According to its website:
All spiritual care responders are trained to provide appropriate and respectful disaster spiritual care in line with Red Cross fundamental principles of impartiality and neutrality. It’s best to let the survivors follow their own beliefs. Some welcome prayer while others don’t.
“We’re never there to proselytize. We’re there to honor their feelings,” said Joe Bozzelli from the Cincinnati, Ohio area. “So many times, we’re told ‘thanks for listening’ and it’s such a relief to be told that.”
While prayer is free, the Red Cross estimates that relief efforts in Louisiana will cost about $30 million.