Last night as I was channel surfing I ran across a political show that was talking about how Congressman Steven Fincher wants to cut Food Stamps and is justifying it with the Bible.
Rather than tell you about it here is the actual article about the segment: From the Lawrence O’Donnell Show – The Last Word
One Republican is using the Bible to say the hungry should just go hungry.
Tea Party Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee quoted a verse from Book of Thessalonians in defense of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” said Fincher during a House Agriculture Committee meeting for a markup of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act.
Approximately 45 percent of the beneficiaries of food stamps are children. A while the bill he is voting for would cut food stamps for the neediest of Americans, Fincher himself is the recipient of major government assistance. The congressman has received over $3.5 million directly from the government in agriculture subsidies.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell called out Fincher’s hypocrisy during his Rewrite segment on Wednesday, and why he seems to get away with it.
“Congressman Steve Fincher gets away with this socialistic thievery for two reasons: One, Republicans and Democrats in Congress love socialism much more than they admit,” said O’Donnell. “No socialist program gets more unbridled bipartisan support than agriculture socialism, our single worst and stupid and most inefficient form of socialism in this country. And two, there is no law against conflict of interest in the Congress.”
O’Donnell said “there should be a special place in the congressional hall of shame for Stephen Fincher” over his willingness “to take food out of the mouths of children as long as he can still use government money to enrich himself.”
When did it become a Biblical virtue to starve children? I was reminded of a blog entry recently where I recounted my own interactions with Tom Smith yet again. Smith, unsurprisingly so, is opposed to feeding the American poor.
Isaiah 58:10 – “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as noonday.”
Proverbs 28:27 – “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse”
I hate starting out with scripture because it makes me as a Christian feel like one of those street corner hollering sin-sin-sin burn in hell preachers. Or like one of those well-scrubbed Funda-Gelicals that hands out Bible tracts instead of Halloween candy, all sanctimonious and self-satisfied hypocrisy. But after my experience in the last few days I was led to search the scriptures that said we should be feeding the poor.
Feeding the poor isn’t just something Christians are supposed to do. Many people groups, religions, individuals, civic organizations and whoever are engaged in the business of making sure someone else gets fed in our nation. Anyone with half a heart that beats for others would feel inclined to help their fellow humans in my eyes.
I’m a big supporter of feeding the poor, starting early on in my Christian journey, back when I went to my old church and went into the soup kitchens and senior citizen nutrition sites to serve for many years. There’s not a ministry involving feeding the poor that I haven’t worked at, from school children with weekend backpacks & the FDA food program through the local shelters and food banks. It is one of the enduring things I carried out of my old church.
I may not be capable of doing much for others but the hard core Cajun in me believes everyone deserves a hearty meal and not to fear hunger. Specially since our nation seems to have an abundance of foods to the point where sometimes the government pays a subsidy not to grow some crops. We have a lot.
But when the Sequester went into affect last Friday I called every phone number I had for the major players in Congress and the Senate begging for them to work with President Obama to end it quickly.
I didn’t call to try and make them end the Sequester because my husband is a federal employee, nope. There is waste in government and it does need to be addressed. My husband’s dept is already skeleton-staffed and they’ve made plans to cut each worker by one day a week rather than furlough anyone.
One of my main concerns with the Sequester is what it’s going to do to gut the budgets of the USDA lunch programs in the schools, the commodity subsidies to the poor, the funding for the soup kitchens, seniors centers and Head Start. It’s bad enough that seniors will be affected but there are many children in our nation that live in a state of food insecurity.
A few nights ago I was talking on Facebook with one of my daughter Laura’s old friends from church, a girl that’s spent much time as part of our family during her adolescence. We’ve taken her to Canada with us a number of times and I am a good friend of her parents. She married a youth minister and has one baby with another one on the way. She and I both came out of our old church with very similar thoughts on what following Jesus actually is. It’s something very different than what is going on over at the old church.
We were talking about how the most needy vulnerable innocents will suffer. She was talking about her experiences as a classroom aide and how more kids that you could imagine mostly ate whatever they could from school, breakfasts and lunches for free. These kids weren’t getting a great deal of food at home. We’re talking kids from families where both parents worked and still could barely eek by without any extras.
There are many kids like this in the community, it’s the reason our church and others have the weekend backpack program they do. They send the kids home that have been identified by the school as living in a home with food insecurity with backpacks filled with simple things to eat for the weekend. If they know of younger siblings in that home then extra food is packed.
And there is so much need out there while the resources are shrinking. My young friend posted this about the food pantries and other services for the poor:
In 1970 there were 200 food banks in this country, today there are over 40,000 food banks, soup kitchens, and pantry’s. In 1970 there were 10 million americans who faced hunger and food insecurity, today there are 50 million. 1 in 2 of our kids will know hunger or food insecurity. 80% of people on programs like SNAP work full time and yet still can’t afford food (for a family of three that means less than $24,000/year) 84% of the agriculture subsidized by the government is corn & soy bean production, 15% is meat, poultry & dairy, 1% is fruits and vegetables. 70% of agricultural subsidies go to incredible large corporations. Heavily processed foods are vastly cheaper than whole foods in part because of these subsidies making people who must adhere to a tiny food budget much more likely to have to buy them. All of this leads to more childhood obesity, more illness, more hunger, and greater healthcare costs. Yeah, let’s just continue to pretend there isn’t a problem.
Those are some sad statistics yet I know they are true. SNAP is a great program but I can tell you that it’s very hard to feed a family on the SNAP program (used to be called food stamps). Last year when I worked at the grocery store I got to see every month the very same people coming in with the SNAP card and having to stretch hard, shop creatively, and only buy the cheapest items in order even have a chance to feed the family for a month. Those stories of people buying steaks and lobster on food stamps might have happened in the past but not now. Not possible.
So here we are, two old friends talking about the best ways to feed the helpless innocent children in this nation and here comes my old nemesis, Tom Smith, butting into the conversation, telling us how horrible and filled with bleeding heart liberal dogma we are.
“Food insecurity” now? lol. You have to be kidding me. No one is starving in this country so they have to come up with a sick liberal buzz word for it? I send my charity money to other countries that are REALLY poor and where the children REALLY ARE STARVING to death, like Haiti, India or most countries in Africa. The government takes enough of our tax dollars to feed lazy welfare stupid pothead crackwhore Americans that do not DESERVE to be fed, so I figure I give enough here already. Let’s help out the TRULY poor! For reals!”
If you don’t know who Tom Smith is I suggest you start here.
I immediately stepped out of the conversation at that point and let my young friend and her husband speak to Tom Smith about his ignorance. They kept at him until he backed off and it came out that Tom Smith and family had been on government programs to feed their kids in the past too. Hypocrite much?
So now Fundamentalist Christians are claiming it’s just overseas that the kids are hungry? For realz? Makes me so mad I think I’ll make another contribution to the local food pantry.
When will people wake up and realize that helping your brother is much better than throwing a rock at him?
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Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Seeking The Light
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce