Bible-Thumping Reverse Robin Hoods
“The extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”
In 2011, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R. Minn.) suggested that Hurricane Irene was God telling us that government spending was out of control. Believing the Almighty to be heavily invested in the U.S. budget and despite Christ’s words on charity, little wonder she just voted with 216 of her Republican colleagues in Congress to slash 4 million people and $39 billion (over the next ten years) from Food Stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) despite 32,000 fellow Minnesotans benefiting from the program.
Echoing Bachmann’s spiritual imperative, Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND), after voting for cutbacks, cited 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Stephen Lee Fincher (R-Tenn.), chimed in with Matthew 26:11: “for you always have the poor with you,” while also referencing 2 Thessalonians.
That nearly 72% of SNAP participants are in families with children and more than one-quarter of them are in households with seniors or disabled was an unavoidable political reality. As for what to do with hungry children whose willingness to work is problematic—since it is illegal—former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had a solution. As a presidential candidate in 2011 he proposed relaxing “truly stupid” child labor laws. Schools, he said, should fire unionized janitors and hire children to do the work.
In an attempt to add God-centric heft to the debate, Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) offered Ephesians 2:8-9: “…for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”To clarify, he added, ”It always looks good when politicians…say, ‘look what we did for you.’ That’s all someone else’s money. We should be doing this as individuals, helping the poor.” In other words, get government out of the business of handouts to the poor.
While admonishing SNAP, Bible-thumping Representatives Cramer, Fincher, and LaMalfa, along with avowed Fundamentalist Christian GOP Representatives Vicky Hartzler (MO), Kristi Noem (SD), Steve King (IA), and Marlin Strutzman (IN) draw a distinction between a $4.45 per day Food Stamp benefit for impoverished citizens and gigantic farm subsidies for millionaires. Like themselves.
Cramer and King represent districts receiving $10.4 billion and $9.0 billion respectively in agricultural subsidies since 1995 (the first and third largest recipients in the nation), an amount equaling nearly half the SNAP cuts. Perhaps more egregious were theindividual payments to these other proponents of belt-tightening at the expense of the poor. Fisher, who owns a farm, received $3.5 million in subsidies from the government from 1999 to 2012. Hartzler and her husband have collected $774,489. Noem was a partner in a family farm that received $3.4 million. Stutzman: just under $200,000. Even Michelle Bachmann of the God-sends-hurricanes-to-destroy-big-spenders, had a family farm subsidized to the tune of $260,000.
For those Reverse Robin Hoods in Congress who feel no remorse in cutting a government safety net aimed at keeping children from aching hunger yet pay themselves ungodly sums, they should undertake a more careful reading of the Good Book. Maybe start with Matthew 7 Verse 15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
For the rest of us, I doubt we need fear that God is sending disasters because we’re handing out assistance to those in desperate need. Rather, for those of faith, maybe a more salient warning comes from these words in Matthew 24:11 relating to the Final Days:“And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.”
With so many ravening false-prophet wolves in Congress, maybe it’s time to start preparing for the Second Coming. But then, if that were to happen, the son of God shouldn’t expect Congressional Republicans to offer him nutritional assistance or, for that matter, healthcare.