The Common Good

Poverty

How House Republicans Are Preaching A False Gospel About Food Stamps

Date: September 25, 2013
Cramer’s sloppy theology is only the latest in a series of attempts by Republican House members to use the Bible to justify cutting programs that help feed the poor. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) also cited the 2 Thessalonians passage to support cutting SNAP at a hearing in May, a move that was widely condemned by religion writers, Tennessee faith leaders, and faith-based activists such as Rev. Jim Wallis of the Sojourners, a Christian advocacy group.

Stepping in When Politicians Step Aside

A straggle of kids came up for children’s time at Poland Presbyterian Church, a 211-year-old congregation established on Lot One, in Township One, in Range One of what was once known as the Connecticut Western Reserve.

The church’s education minister asked them to do this year’s CROP Walk in nearby Youngstown. Two miles, five miles, whatever they can do to raise money for alleviating hunger.

“Seventeen million children will go to bed hungry in America tonight,” she explained.

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SNAP Cuts Place Texas Families At Risk, Advocates Insist

Date: September 20, 2013
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, noted nearly three-fourths of SNAP recipients—72 percent—are working families with children. The Congressional Budget Office reports the House budget would cut assistance to nearly 4 million low-income people in 2014 and an average 3 million more each year for the next decade, he added.

Smith: How Farm Aid Is Tied To Food Aid

Date: September 20, 2013
The Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the evangelical left, wrote Thursday in The Huffington Post: "The Bible clearly says that governmental authority includes the protection of the poor in particular, and instructs political rulers to promote their well-being." It sounds logical to me.

Christian Leaders Oppose SNAP Cuts

Date: September 19, 2013
“These immoral cuts are incongruent with the shared values of our nation,” Wallis added in a letter Sept. 9. “They demonstrate the triumph of political ideology and self-interest over sound public policy and concern for the general welfare.”

Advocates Speak Out About SNAP

Date: September 17, 2013
‘You go after the poorest people because you think that’s safe? We’ll make that politically unsafe for you.’ This is wrong, it’s hypocrisy, and it should not be done."

New Yorkers “Baffled” By Battle Against Food Aid

Date: September 16, 2013
The Rev. Jim Wallis said his group, Sojourners, along with other religious progressives, believes it is hypocritical for foes of government spending to dole out millions in subsidies to farmers, yet cut back SNAP benefits. "Our commitment is, we're going to tell the politicians, 'You go after the poorest people because you think that's safe? We'll make that politically unsafe for you.' This is wrong, it's hypocrisy, and it should not be done," Wallis said.

Your Christian Hypocrisy Is Showing: On Pope Francis and the U.S. Congress

The message of Christ is not often so clearly presented in American media as it was yesterday, nor is that message as clearly contradicted in the same news cycle.

Yesterday, Pope Francis, while not actually changing any doctrinal stance of the Catholic church, clearly asserted in a rare and frank interview that compassion and mercy must be the light that radiates from the global church for the world to see, rather than the church’s current “obsession” with gays, birth control, and abortion.

At the same time that the pope’s words were cycling through the media, other words were also coming through loud and clear: those of Republican lawmakers who have decided that the least of these will remain just that and, accordingly, voted to slash the food stamp budget by almost $40 billion.

The juxtaposition presented between these two events is striking. It also represents an enormous divide among Christians, and, frankly, demonstrates why so many feel Christianity is a religion full of hypocrisy. 

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House Passes Billions in Cuts to Food Stamps Program

The House of Representatives on Thursday evening narrowly passed a plan that cuts about $40 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps program.
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Just Picking On the Poor: The Facts and the Faces of Cutting SNAP

If you know the facts and faces of the hungry families that are helped by SNAP, I believe it is a moral and even religious problem to vote to cut them. The Bible clearly says that governmental authority includes the protection of the poor in particular, and instructs political rulers to promote their well-being. So the argument that the poor should just be left to churches and private charity is an unbiblical argument. I would be happy to debate that with any of our conservative Congressmen who keep telling our churches that we are the only ones who should care for the poor. To vote against feeding hungry people is un-Christian, un-Jewish, and goes against any moral inclination, religious or

Finally, for politicians to defend these SNAP cuts because of our need to cut spending generally is un-credible and incredible.

These same politicians are not willing to go to where the real money is: the Pentagon budget, which everyone knows to be the most wasteful in government, or the myriad subsidies to corporations, including agribusiness subsides to members of Congress who will be voting to cut SNAP for the poor.

Tea Party-elected Rep. Stephen Fincher, (R-Tenn.), who likes to bolster his anti-poor rhetoric with misused Bible verses, collected $3.5 million in farm subsidies between 1999 and 2012, according to the New York Times. Fincher is helping to lead the effort to cut food stamps to working families with children by illogically quoting: “The one who is unwilling to work should not eat,” all the while collecting millions of dollars in agricultural subsidies. Congressman Fincher's position is hypocritical — and it's this kind of hypocrisy that makes Christians look bad and turns young people away from the church.

You see, for many House conservatives this isn't really about SNAP, but about their opposition to the idea that as a society we have the responsibility to care for each other, even during the hard times or when resources are few. Conservatives know their ideas for privatizing Social Security or cutting funding to Medicare and Medicaid are politically unpopular, but their ideology of individualism that borders on social Darwinism remains unchanged. SNAP is the perfect target for them. The image of what it does and whom it serves has been widely distorted by the media, while the people who benefit from it have little influence in the halls of Congress and pose little risk to the political careers of Republican members. 

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