Occasionally, a little bit of scripture will float into public discourse, often in the paper definition of politicians and also civilians sorting with the ramifications of some bit of policy. The citations space as a rule reasonably shallow, as one next or the various other tries come leverage the ethical authority of scripture. Sometimes, though, it’s a bit an ext interesting.

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Which brings united state to a Washington article report through Caitlin Dewey:

One lawmaker is citing a godly reference to justify changes to the Supplemental Nutrition assistance Program: Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.) recently quoted the brand-new Testament to question the stamin of present work requirements.

The biblical passage, 2 Thessalonians 3-10, was a rebuttal to among the hearing’s skilled witnesses, a representative of the Jewish anti-hunger team MAZON. (He referenced Leviticus.) the is also a familiar refrain to anyone who has watched past debates around SNAP.

House Republicans have actually historically quote the verse — “if a guy will no work, the shall no eat” — together justification for cutting part adults’ SNAP benefits. Arrington referenced the verse in a discussion around increasing the work demands for unemployed adults on the food stamp program. Yet critics speak that advancements a pernicious myth around the unemployment who get SNAP.

Actually, the Congressman was yes, really citing 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. That’s a flub, yet a relatively minor one. Meanwhile, the MAZON witness—policy director Josh Protas—was offering a gloss on Leviticus 19, which directs Jews to set aside harvest gleanings because that the landless negative to gather. This is how civilization stayed lively in those days.

The exchange illustrates the obstacles of using scripture in politics. Protas’ Leviticus citation has actually in component social applications: Jews are told clearly not to cheat in their company dealings, no to make use of immigrants or guest workers, and also to pay all employees the earnings owed come them. But it likewise prohibits cut a man’s holy places or beard, which is why countless ultra-Orthodox sports earlocks; acquiring a tattoo, or consulting “augurs” and also “wizards.”

Opponents the the Levitical injunction to stone gay men to fatality argue that it’s inconsistent to keep that rule while ignoring prohibitions on eat shellfish or wearing mixed fibers. Yet the same difficulty applies here. Why need to we pay fist to the command to feed the poor, however not the one that forbids eating fruit indigenous a new tree till its fifth year?

Arrington doesn’t fare much better. Because that one thing, it would certainly be basic to review his response as at the very least implicitly supersessionist: You deserve to quote the Old Testament, but I have new Testament scripture! together Dewey points out, this little bit from 2 Thessalonians is a favorite conservative justification because that cutting social benefits. It’s additionally a gun misinterpretation of the passage:

The passage, created by Saint Paul, was no addressed come the negative or hungry generally, claimed the Rev. David Beckmann, a Lutheran pastor and the president of the faith-based anti-hunger organization Bread because that the World. That was composed to a particular sect of early on Christians, who had abandoned many facets of their consistent lives due to the fact that they believed the apocalypse to be imminent.

“The sin is sloth, indolence, inactivity,” echoed Al Mohler, the president of the southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a significant evangelical school. “This is not an issue of inability. I don’t think it has been, in the history of the church.”

Here’s another fairly minor flub on Dewey’s part: Paul wasn’t composing to a “sect.” It to be a particular church in ~ Thessalonica, and also he was composing to exactly a failure of his own creation. In 1 Thessalonians, he tells the church that Jesus will certainly be coming soon. That urges some the the members to provide up their jobs in ready for the parousia, living off the neighborhood while lock wait. Those are the human being Paul says need to get ago to work: Jesus might be coming, yet not so quickly that girlfriend don’t have to add to society.

Perhaps Rep. Arrington knows of a widespread problem with civilization receiving SNAP benefits who refuse come work due to the fact that they think the second coming is just roughly the corner, yet I type of doubt it.

I’m going to give the edge to Protas here. Generalizing away from certain passages, the unmistakable pattern in scripture is meaningful social treatment for the poor. That doesn’t command government intervention, the course, but neither walk it dominance it out.

Sadly, there’s an additional layer to consider here. Federalist an elderly editor Mollie Hemingway strikes this short article as “anti-Christian.” while Dewey mirrors a absence of fluidity in talking around the bible (there’s no such point as “Judeo-Christian scripture”), I’m not specifically sure how an short article that accurately to represent a broadly-held interpretation of the pertinent passage and how it’s used by one side of a political debate counts together “anti-Christian.” maybe Hemingway think anything the doesn’t line up through the current Republican new Testament hermeneutic is an attack on the Christian faith? If so, it’s a revealing enjoy on what she thinks about the authenticity of much more liberal Christian faith, not to point out Albert Mohler.

None of this is to say the scripture shouldn’t be offered in public debates. The does, ~ all, aid to type the ethical consciousness of the vast majority of Americans. There’s nothing inherently wrong v citing that or also wrangling end its appropriate interpretation. But the entire story illustrates just how an overwhelming it have the right to be to lift a passage from its context 2,000 or much more years removed and wield it appropriately.

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On a scale of 0-5 Satans, we rate Josh Protas’ declare a 0 together incomplete.

Caitlin Dewey gets fifty percent a Satan because that accurate however glitchy reporting: 


Jodey Arrington gets 2 for more than likely sincerely-held however wrong (also hard-hearted) interpretation: 

And Mollie Hemingway receives three for partisan tendentiousness: 

(Featured image: indigenous a Soviet propaganda poster. Lenin quoted 2 Thessalonians approvingly.)