- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2018

Faith leaders are coming out in full force to oppose the Republican-sponsored Farm Bill released in the House that imposes stricter work requirements on those receiving food stamps.

Do not be fooled by their so-called Christian arguments in opposition of this bill. 

Do not be fooled by what they say a good Christian is supposed to do to provide for the poor.

Their arguments are neither Christian nor common sense. And it’s these so-called Christian leaders and their social justice lines of thought that must be opposed — not the Farm Bill.

First, the bill: House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conway’s legislation strengthens work requirements on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients — formerly known as food-stamp recipients — by mandating those between the ages of 18 and 59 “to work, to participate in employment and training or a work program, or any combination of work, participation in employment and training or a work program a minimum of 20 hours per week,” as the text of the legislation states.

Currently, states have a lot of discretion at issuing waivers for any work requirements on SNAP applicants and recipients — and that’s how America got to the point of feeding the unemployed via tax dollars to a level that earned Barack Obama the monicker “Food Stamp President,” by the way. Too much government giveaway, too little accountability.

The gravy train’s coming to an end with this bill, though, because it attempts to nationally standardize some requirements for SNAP recipients — while still allowing for plenty of exemptions in emergency situations — and ratchet up on the accountability factor to make sure those on the public dole don’t stay on the public dole for an unreasonable amount of time.

But the left doesn’t like imposition. And they’re using their religion to fight back.

Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of the office of government relations for the Episcopal Church, said in a written statement from the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs: “Our faith teaches that all children of God should be fed, and we do not believe this should be restricted so that people go hungry.”

Sandy Sorensen, director of the United Church of Christ, Washington, D.C., office, said: “[The] Farm Bill includes onerous work requirements … unreasonable requirements. … We are reminded of our sacred scripture that says, ‘What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?’ “

Simone Campbell, executive director for Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, said: “This partisan bill is outrageous, stigmatizes people living in poverty, and flies in the face of Gospel values.”

The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, with the United Methodist Church, said: “Providing food for those suffering from hunger is central to our Christian faith. … The Farm Bill introduced in the House would undercut a cornerstone … of [SNAP].”

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the office of public witness for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., said: “Our mandate as Presbyterians is to care for the least of these. Imposing work requirements on the SNAP program violates this mandate.”

No. It doesn’t. It imposes accountability on a taxpayer-funded system that’s been screaming for accountability. These SNAP recipients aren’t being cut off from their food doles — they’re simply being told to look for work at the same time they receive their dole-outs.

And that mandate is hardly unchristian, as these so-called leaders of the faith want to state. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which states in part, “that of any would not work, neither should he eat.”

But above and beyond biblical citations is this common-sense understanding of Jesus: Christ never turned to the government to feed people. Christ never called for the reliance on government to feed people.

Christ prayed and fed the people himself.

That’s where these faith leaders are missing the mark — skewing the truth.

Christianity is about an individual relationship with Christ, not about a relationship with God and the government. True Christians reach in their own pockets to feed the hungry and provide for the poor.

Fake Christians call on the government and taxpayers.

And fake Christian leaders cite skewed biblical principles to guilt the people into doing the same. Do not be fooled.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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