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Monday, September 17, 2018

Conservatives Misuse Scripture To Shame The Poor

A commonly misinterpreted Bible verse conservatives point to deny food to the poor is "If a man shouldn't work, he shouldn't eat." (2 Thess. 3:10) The contemptuous attitude this new Republican-led Farm Bill has for the poor is sad. Trump reportedly agrees with the House version of the bill to strip benefits from the destitute. This administration doesn't care about poor veterans. Conservatives use veterans as a prop.

Aside from whether we should take a 2,000-year-old Sacred text to implement policy, the verse doesn't account for laborers who don't get paid or single mothers working daily to support their children but still don't make enough to help their children. It also doesn't account for disabled folks, or senior citizens, who can't find work & collect cans for aluminum scraps for a few bucks. Nor do work requirements account for people without internet connections to log hours of their work.

Paul wrote the Bible to the early Jews, who would have understood the world differently. Often, we try to fit in a spiritual context of scriptures for a literal, modern era.

Taking ancient literature, although spiritually correct, isn't for building policies. Again, I believe the Bible is 100 percent true. But, I do not think it is entirely literal. We shouldn't pick and choose which legislation we allow Scripture to legislate.

So, we see a stark difference between the original interpretation and what conservatives reinterpretation of Scripture. We cannot allow false doctrine to enter the public square; especially not legislatively.
The current Farm Bill up for a vote conveys the message, not of dignified work, but of shame and utter contempt for the poor, which I dare you to find in the Bible.

(Photo From RewireNews)

Ethnic background, political affiliation collides with theology to moralize who deserves to eat. The Republican position allows conservative Christians to deny food to children. We can afford a $2 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, but not to feed the poor. We can afford to fight wars the public did not vote for but not to feed the poor.

Trump boasts incessantly about the low unemployment (thanks, Obama) rate, but wants "work" requirements for assistance. This president gave a $2 trillion tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, but poor working Americans cannot even get assistance for food without being shamed.

The Christian left refutes the Paul's pithy Bible passage of eating and working. But the bigger picture of the racist tropes of racial stereotypes concerning who public benefits go to triggers white resentment.

According to Rewire NewsCurrently, able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without dependents have to work for pay to remain eligible for SNAP benefits. Under the version of the Farm Bill passed in the House earlier this year, able-bodied adults 50-59 would be required to have jobs, as would adults caring for children over age 6. (The bill received zero votes from House Democrats.) The bipartisan Senate version of the bill would leave existing requirements in place.


The Trump Administration supports the House version. President Trump tweeted last week that the House version of the bill “with SNAP work requirements will bolster farmers and get America back to work.” (Isn’t this the same president who crows incessantly about the country’s low unemployment rate?) Vice President Pence echoed the president, tweeting that the final version of the bill should “include work requirements for SNAP recipients to restore the dignity of work & fill the job openings that have resulted from our booming economy!” 
Most of the white non-college educated people who voted for Trump aren't rich. In fact, a lot of them are the low-income folks the GOP despise. Trump said what they wanted to hear. The problem is he didn't mean it.

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