The quote is self-explanatory, right?
Tennessee representative Stephen Fincher was responding biblically to Rep. Juan Vargas who suggested that the example of Jesus be a reminder when deciding to cut funds from the SNAP program (what some judgmental, armchair activists and lazy politicians call “food stamps”).
One blogger gives a great account of the irony and hypocrisy in the details of Fincher’s quote here:
Another news source gives a few details of Fincher’s own benefits received from the government:
It is atrocious that a man with the ability to influence legislation would afflict poor children with more poverty since they are forbidden by the same law to get a job and work for their food. It is repulsive that a man with the power to influence legislation will not “represent” those of his district honestly, especially when his actions place the weight of judgment on the poor while he makes decisions about funds for which he himself did not work. It is unforgiveable that a politician whose motives appear strictly political and partisan should misquote the Bible for those purposes. It is with this in mind that I write the following to Fincher.
Your use of 2 Thessalonians 3:10 was a brilliant play in partisan politics. He who does not work should not eat. It’s plain and simple, right?
I’m onto your secret plan. While this verse states one truth (no work = no food), it also states another. A man who is willing to work should eat. This verse accounts for those who live in poverty (for whatever reason – 2 Thessalonians doesn’t specify) as well as those who are unemployed – the verse you quote uses the word “willing” and not “unemployed”, “lazy”, “on food stamps”, “or “judged unworthy by a politician.” This word “willing” is quite different from “able”. For example, the poor may be willing to change a law regarding the SNAP program to serve in their favor but they are not able without proper representation. Or another example: children may be willing to vote on the future of the SNAP program, however, only state representatives are able. There is a difference, I’m sure you agree.
By using this verse, you are saying that a man who is willing to work should eat, right? This implies that you are working to create jobs for those willing, correct? You’ll insure that before you take food from a child’s mouth, won’t you? It implies also that you intend to survey the willingness of the constituents you represent, too. Thank you for saving these funds for your district’s “willing” in a time when some are honestly not able.
For those unwilling, the Bible has verse for them as well. Matthew 25:31-46 is a good one to quote for those who appear to be impoverished (whether willing to work or not, it appears salvation is given to those who don’t place conditions on alleviating poverty). Isaiah 58 also has a few words about those who are burdened with poverty, too, and it talks about those who call to God or try to use their actions for God while on the other hand oppressing the others around them. The alleviation of poverty is really a concept that is spoken about more in the Bible than Heaven, Hell, salvation, and the church. I challenge you to find otherwise. It’s also very poetic and quotable stuff for when you debate others.
The brilliance in using this quote is that you in essence are saying you will support the “willing!” I’m sure you served your party well in appearing to disagree with Juan Vargas. Little did he know that you were buying a little support on the home front while you work the covert master plan of helping those who are willing to work get food. I bet the children that you’ll help will also acquire the willingness to work if they’re fed, too – but I’m no prophet or politician. However, if I’m mistaken in what I think you are doing and you are planning simply to eliminate assistance to the poor because you believe that the unemployed should not eat (especially children), then please dismiss my letter of applause – I don’t want to share my celebration with an unbeliever. Also, if you’re eliminating the funds with a biblical quote but you’ve found the funds in a place other than the farm program, then now is a good time to let us know.
Let me know how it works out. Since you also quoted “the poor you will always have with you”, I assume you also infer that you have got quite a job cut out for sustaining your assurance to the “willing.” This could be a victory for those who love their neighbors as themselves (sorry, it’s hard not to quote when we’re all in such a quoting mood).
A child from your district.