You will remember that this sorry event saw 210 Republicans who make $175,000 per year say poor people ought to starve to death, stripping food stamps from 3.8 million Americans, including 170,000 veterans. It included Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) reaching an all-time Republican low (right up there next to putting children back to work in factories) when he said, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
Doesn’t sound very Christian, does it? Many Christians didn’t think so. Christian leaders opposed the cuts. The Associated Baptist Press reported last week that “Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, wrote House members Sept. 5. ‘Instead, this type of bill will punish those struggling to get by.'”
And on September 9, Sojourners’ Jim Wallis wrote, “These immoral cuts are incongruent with the shared values of our nation They demonstrate the triumph of political ideology and self-interest over sound public policy and concern for the general welfare.”
These leaders were far from alone. Back in May, The Huffington Post reported that,
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Jewish Federations of North America, and dozens of religious and secular organizations signed a letter to Congress last week urging members to oppose food stamp cuts. “If SNAP is weakened, our nation will see more hunger and food insecurity, worse health and educational outcomes, and higher health costs,” it said.
Surely NOBODY would suggest the cuts WERE a Christian thing to do.
Oh wait…Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council (FRC) says there is “nothing more Christian” than cutting food stamps.
Think about this for a minute.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Are Republicans trying to get the kids to Jesus more quickly? It seems like it.
Is that what Blackwell was trying to say?
Not exactly. Blackwell, like most so-called Christians, wasn’t thinking about Jesus or the New Testament, and probably not even the Old. He was thinking about his anti-government views and probably that if Barack Obama wants these kids to eat, then they should certainly not be allowed to eat.
Speaking to The Christian Post, Blackwell said,
I think through empowering others and creating self-sufficiency…there within lies the path to sense of worthiness. When I was growing up, there was fundamental belief, that there were times in people’s life when they needed a hand up…there were temporariness to those programs, where they were structured so that they didn’t breed so that they didn’t breed dependency.
According to The Christian Post,
Blackwell also suggested that there was “nothing more Christian” than “not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government.”
This is more of the “freedom of the grave” Republicans so badly want to sell us. The facts of the shared reality Republicans find so distasteful are that if you don’t eat, you die, and that people who make only a couple of thousand dollars a year can’t afford food.
The calculus of Republican “freedom” is grim and it is undeniable. In the guise of freeing people from “liberal slavery” they will tell them instead that their children have a right to starve to death.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), a Southern Baptist, said this spring that, “I read this chapter of Matthew 25 to speak to me as an individual. I don’t read it to speak to the United States government. And so I would take a little bit of umbrage with you on that. Clearly, you and I are charged that we do those kinds of things but [our government is not] charged with that.”
Funny. I see Jesus loving children and preaching their place in the Kingdom of God. I don’t see him preaching against dependency on the federal government.
So is Conaway going to make up this shortfall created by his fellow Republicans in the House? Certainly not. He can’t. Nobody has a spare $4 billion lying about. And that’s the point. Only the federal government does. Just as only the federal government has the means to provide disaster relief for victims of hurricanes and floods. Can we assume that were Texas to be hit by hurricanes that Conaway would decry disaster relief as promoting dependency?
I would not count on that. Colorado’s House Republicans opposed providing relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy, but faced with their own floods and fires, they sure think disaster relief is a good idea now.
Nobody is more morally relative than a conservative Christian.
And speaking of Christians, what about Jesus says, “starve the little children to death”?
You’re wondering about Mike Conaway’s Matthew 25? I think this is worth quoting in full,
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The Republicans have proven they can and will starve little children to punish our first black president and minorities like him for daring to be brown-skinned in a Christian white nationalist state. But they have also proven they have no right and no relation to the man known to history as Jesus of Nazareth, and to their own religion as Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.