Red Cross won't let Louisiana cop pray with flood victims? Please, news media, tell us more

In flood-stricken Louisiana, the American Red Cross has got trouble — with a capital "T."

Rebekah Allen of the Baton Rouge Advocate outlines the issues in an excellent news story:

Among the general concerns are claims, which the Red Cross denies, that the organization has kept donated supplies from evacuees and even allowed victims to go hungry. You really need to read the full story to understand what's happening.

But the nugget that drew our attention surfaces about two-thirds into the in-depth report.

Beyond the questions over meals and supplies, yes, a religious freedom question arises.

Check out these three paragraphs:

Capt. Clay Higgins, a reserve Lafayette city marshal who is running for Congress, posted a video of himself on Facebook saying he had tried to visit with evacuees and pray with them at the Heymann Center in Lafayette and was asked to leave by the Red Cross.
"Red Cross people here are great, but they have Red Cross rules they have to follow," he said in the video. "A man can't walk around the shelter and offer love and prayer for people who have been displaced." 
(Nancy Malone, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross) acknowledged that the organization does have a policy intended to be respectful of all faiths, but she said if Higgins had approached managers they would have accommodated him. 

A hat tip to Rod "Friend of this Blog" Dreher, who first posted about this story on his blog at the American Conservative:

I cannot believe that the Red Cross did this to Capt. Clay Higgins, a folk hero here in south Louisiana:

More from Dreher's post:

From the American Red Cross blog:
Is it true that the Red Cross doesn’t allow people to pray in shelters?
We have been so moved by the outpouring of care and kindness we’ve witnessed among Louisiana residents. At the Red Cross, our priority is also providing comfort to all that reside at our shelters. We recognize and are sensitive to the fact that hundreds of people from different backgrounds are often sharing a large space with limited privacy. It is of the utmost importance that we respect people’s individual needs, backgrounds and beliefs in accordance with our Fundamental Principles, which state that we bring assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinion. With this in mind, and for the privacy of our shelter residents, we do have policies in place on who can enter shelters to ensure that people have a private, secure place to stay as much as possible. Please know people in the shelters are also welcome to pray and gather among themselves.
So much for the “Cross” in Red Cross. No wonder south Louisiana people are pissed off at them.

Sounds like a story worthy of deeper exploration by reporters, does it not? Perhaps an enterprising Godbeat pro would feel compelled to delve into that intriguing religion angle on this national story?

Please, news media, tell us more.

Please respect our Commenting Policy