Thursday, May 23, 2013

Congressman’s Misuse Of Bible Verse Belies Bad Theology And Ideology On Food Stamps


As the House Agriculture Committee convened earlier this week to discuss whether or not to cut as much as $4.1 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), the conversation between lawmakers devolved into an exchange that was equal parts bad policy and bad theology.
As House members discussed slashing the budget for the Farm Bill, which funds SNAP, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) took issue with some Democrats who cited Jesus Christ’s call to care for “the least of these” when describing the government’s need to assist the hungry. Instead, Fincher explained that his support for the proposed cuts by quoting a very different Bible verse – 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”
But while the use of 2 Thessalonians is a convenient tool for those who want to justify ignoring the poor, Fincher’s lukewarm Biblical argument doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. As many religious bloggers have already pointed out, the author of 2 Thessalonians was actually referring to ancient Christians who had stopped working in anticipation of Jesus’ Second Coming. The verse is concerned with correcting a theological misunderstanding (i.e., don’t just wait around for Jesus, live an active faith), not passing judgement on the poor.
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