Rev. Kathleen Chesson said her First Christian Church would not obey the rules. "Our agenda is to feed the hungry. We're going to feed the hungry. That's it."
Before I could confront the county officials about this ridiculous situation, the bad publicity had already prompted a reconsideration. "I got up and saw my morning newspaper and was horrified," said Gerry Connolly, who heads the county government. "I think sometimes the rules overpower common sense."
I asked him, What if the health department had been around when Jesus was feeding the poor? "He might have been, you know, cited," Connolly replied with a laugh.
So this story has a happy ending: Connolly exempted churches from the regulations. But let's not celebrate.
"Fairfax is stepping back," James said. "They're saying they're not going to enforce it ... for now. This year. What about next year?"
Again, that's a pretty astute analysis. If you catch the attention of the media, you can bask in your government leader's forgiveness. But what about next year, and what about the rest of us who are still stuck with all the rules?
The rules are well-intended. They're meant to make sure the public is safe. But rule-makers tend to forget that their rules have unintended consequences. And, as James pointed out, eating out of dumpsters is more dangerous than eating at a church without a three-compartment sink.