Home Opinion Rev. David Hart to Supervisor Jeff Weigand: “Be more careful with your...

Rev. David Hart to Supervisor Jeff Weigand: “Be more careful with your words that concern our community’s oppressed and marginalized”


Rev. David Hart, along with numerous pastors and reverends and ministers in the Madison area, responds to Dane County Supervisor Jeff Weigands’ statement that “sin is the root cause” of homelessness. Read our news coverage here.


Dear Supervisor Weigand:

When Jesus was at the end of his public ministry, he was arrested for crimes that he did not commit and detained in jail. Soon after, Jesus was brought before the state’s governor to answer to the false allegations. After listening to the slim evidence presented, there was a call from many citizens and officials for Jesus to be killed by the state for the charged offenses. Not a single person witnessing this sham of a trial spoke up to attempt to stop Jesus from being killed. Except for Pilate’s wife. This woman cut through the oppression, the lies and the hate of that moment, and got word to her husband Pilate to leave Jesus alone, because Jesus was completely innocent.

Supervisor Weigand, we write to you, in the spirit of Pilate’s wife, to call on you to be more careful with your words concerning the community’s oppressed and marginalized. It has come to our collective attention that you indicated in your official capacity that “sin is the root cause of homelessness.” Not only is this statement deeply hurtful and divisive in our community, it is simply wrong and certainly contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ. First, we point out that if we thoroughly study the canonized gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, we can be certain that Jesus spent a good portion of his public ministry as a houseless person. Doesn’t Matthew 8:20 tell us that “And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus was also born in a manger and spent periods as a transient, itinerant preacher. The Apostle Paul was also unhoused for periods in his public ministry and life.

Next, we point out that the Law and prophets Jesus was sent to fulfill and address, absolutely did not characterize houselessness as a sin. In Deuteronomy 15:7-11, God proclaims that “if any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.” God clearly has a soft spot for people who could use help. But, above this, Jesus’ entire ministry had everything to do with humanizing people who were oppressed and lacked resources.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the most important and instructive sermon in Christianity, the first words out of Jesus’ mouth were literally blessings on the poor, oppressed and downtrodden. Further, at every turn in Jesus’ public ministry, he took the time to heal, bless and spend time with even unhoused people. Jesus did not see unhoused people as sinful and problematic, rather he continually characterizes theologies like yours that infer that only bad and sinful people are unhoused, as problematic. 

Supervisor Weigand, we hope that you carefully read the gospels, spend some time in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in this season. We believe that when you do these things, they will lead you to retract your statement about the unhoused in our community, and apologize for your divisive comment.


In Jesus’ name,

Reverend David Hart, Sherman Ave. United Methodist Church,

Rev. Breanna Illéné, Wisconsin Council of Churches,

Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen, President of the African American Council of Churches,

Rev. Eldonna Hazen, First Congregational United Church of Christ, 

Rev. Karla Garcia, Pastor, SS Morris AME Church,

Rev. Vica Etta Steel,

Bishop Dr. Godfrey A. Stubbs,

William Rick Badger, Pastor Emeritas of New Beginnings Alliance Church,

Rev. Tim Schaefer, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Madison,

Rev. Nick Utphall, Advent Lutheran Church/Madison Christian Community,

Rev. Everett Mitchell,

Rev. David A. Smith, Sr. ,

Rev. Miranda Hassett, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church,

Pastor Isaiah Oby, Associate Pastor of Northside Christian Assembly,

Rev. C. Colier McNair, Pastor of Multicultural Ministry at Blackhawk Church,

Linda Ketcham, Executive Director of JustDane,

Apostle Dr. Larry E. Tabron, Executive Pastor at Rebirth United Outreach Ministries,

Apostle Brenda Carroll Lafton,

Jennifer Drake Figy,

Aine Maier,

John Litweiler,

Jake Foxx,

Julie Wood Touray,

Linda Stouffer, and 

Debbie Lynn