In their ongoing saga to cut SNAP, many Republicans call unemployed adults freeloaders straining the system because they choose not to work. They are even twisting a Bible verse to make it fit what they choose to believe.
Resistance Report reported Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) was at least the third Republican to use the biblical passage 2 Thessalonians 3-10 as a reason to cut access to food stamps.
During a House hearing on nutrition this week, Arrington asserted that God demands lawmakers practice compassion—except when it comes to the poor having food.
“He says even when we were with you we give you this rule, ‘If a man will not work he shall not eat.’ And he goes on to say ‘We heard that some of you are idle.’ I think that every American, Republican or Democrat wants to help the needy among us. And I think it’s a reasonable expectation that we have work requirements. I think that gives more credibility, frankly, to SNAP,” Arrington declared.
As Resistance Report points out:
Putting aside the irony of talking about the importance of compassion in one sentence and then going on to say jobless people deserve to starve in the next, that Bible verse is actually not even addressed to the poor.
2 Thessalonians is one of many letters that St. Paul wrote to early members of the Christian church. The verse is referring to early Christians who were neglecting the Lord’s work because they believed the apocalypse was coming soon.
“The sin is sloth, indolence, inactivity,” said Al Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “This is not an issue of inability. I don’t think it has been, in the history of the church.”
The issue of “inability” isn’t discussed much on the conservative side of the food stamp debate. Arrington and many other Republicans often make it a point to shame those on the program as leeches of society who are too lazy to work.
Out of all who participate in SNAP, 64% are unable to work because they are elderly, disabled, or children. 22% do work full time. Only 14% of beneficiaries work less than 30/hrs a week, are unemployed, or are registered for work.
USA Today reports, recipients get between $1.40 and $1.90 per meal.
Here are a couple more bible verses for anyone who is not sure if the biblical teaching is to help the poor or take a crap on the poor:
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life. — Proverbs 22:22-23
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:17