The rumors have been circulating ever since the evacuees arrived in town. People have said things like they're drug addicts, prostitutes, criminals. Rev. William Lawson of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church says Hurricane Katrina was an equal opportunity disaster and it's time to set the stereotypes aside.
Many faith-based organizations are on the front lines of providing services to the evacuees. The Anti-Defamation League is asking the faith community to help welcome the survivors regardless of their race, religion or background. Dr. Jim Bankston of St. Paul's United Methodist Church says many of the people he knows who expressed fears hadn't come face to face with the evacuees, but that changed when they met some of the people from Louisiana.
The Anti-Defamation League is starting a public awareness campaign promoting mutual respect in an effort to dispel many of the stereotypes and fears associated with the evacuees.