Isn’t it nice to know that the House Agricultural Committee has time for bible studies?
In moving this year’s farm bill out of committee and to the House proper, they apparently found time for some in-depth theological debate. The Barre Montpelier Times Argus has the most entertaining summary (as well as a really fun name), so let’s roll a quote from their story:
Cutting the food stamp program was hotly debated, with members quoting the Bible to support keeping the food stamp program at the current level or cutting it.
Rep. Juan C. Vargas, D-Calif., who opposes the cuts, began the thread by quoting a biblical passage from the 25th chapter of the Book of Matthew.
“I’m a Christian, and this chapter talks about how you treat the least among us,” said Vargas, adding that he would not support a bill that made such deep cuts to the anti-hunger program.
But K. Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican, countered that argument.
“I take umbrage to that,” he said. “I take Matthew 25 to mean me as an individual, not the U.S. government.”
Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., then quoted a verse from the 26th chapter of Matthew, saying the “poor will always be with us” in his defense of cuts to the food stamps program.
According to NBC News, Mr. Fincher was not done there, and went on to dig deeper into the New Testament:
Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, who supports cuts to the program, had his own Bible verse from the Book of Thessalonians to quote back to Vargas: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said.
So, first off, that is a lot of Jesus in our nation’s halls of governance, and all of you shut up, including you the Democrat from California that started this whole mess.
But if you are going to legislate based on what the invisible man in the sky told you to do (stop that), at least study the damn book.
“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” is a weird translation of part of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which reads in full (King James Version here) “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
This comes in a series of instructions specific to the christian community Paul had established in Thessalonica, detailing how to organize their fellowship. It’s essentially early Christian micromanagement: “Hey, if your guys are slacking off, tell them no more lunch break.”
What it is not is any sort of statement on how Christians are to treat other people, whether in their personal lives or through the apparatus of any state they might finagle control of. (It was also a big favorite of Lenin’s, who quoted it in The State and Revolution in 1917, and a part of the 1936 Soviet Constitution, which makes its presence in the mouth of a Tennessee Republican just that much weirder.)
But hey, if he really believes his misinterpretation of a text with dubious authorship to be the true word of God, at least Mr. Fincher is living by his principles, right?
Well, no, turns out Mr. Fincher has taken millions of dollars in farm subsidies over the years, which is pretty much the exact definition of getting paid to not work.
So he’s not just bad at Jesus, he’s even bad at his own, made-up, not-at-all-in-the-Bible version of Jesus. That being the case, maybe he could stop with the Jesus thing altogether and just do his damn job?