For groups defying Mayor Nutter's sensible ban on open-air feedings of the homeless along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it may well be a social or religious calling to help desperate men and women gathered at one of the city's marquee public spaces.
But it's hard to see how such a mission legally can trump the city's health and safety regulations. Nor are random feedings an improvement over the mayor's sound goal of moving these actitivities indoors, where the homeless can be linked with services to get them back on their feet.
As a federal judge hears oral arguments Thursday in a legal challenge to the city's June 1 implementation of its al fresco dining limits, the hope is that the legal issues stay front and center. Religious arguments have a place, but not in these proceedings.