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Republican congressman: The Bible says unemployed people shouldn't be fed

Texas Rep. Jodney Arrington quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which says "if a man will not work, he shall not eat"


Taylor Link
April 1, 2017 6:14PM (UTC)

A GOP lawmaker quoted the New Testament earlier this week to question why the country does not have more stringent work requirements for those on government welfare like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

In a House Agriculture Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, took the opportunity to read from the Bible after a witness in the hearing referenced a passage from Leviticus in his testimony.

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"I think that's a great reflection on the character of God and compassion of God's heart and how we ought to reflect that compassion in our lives," Arrington said, before turning to a different Bible chapter.

Citing 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Arrington implied that even Jesus himself thought that people should work for their food.

"The scripture tells us in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3:10, he says, 'for even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: If a man will not work, he shall not eat. And then he goes on to say 'we hear that some among you are idle.' . . . I think it's a reasonable expectation that we have work requirements," Arrington said.

"I think every American — Republican and Democrat — wants to help the neediest among us," he continued. "And I think that it is a reasonable expectation that we have work requirements. I think that gives more credibility, quite frankly, to SNAP."

The congressman then allowed the panel of witnesses to address his concerns.

Russell Sykes, a senior fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy, who was a witness in the committee's hearing, reminded Arrington that a lot of people on SNAP are not able bodied and therefore would not be able to meet a mandatory work requirement.

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Able-bodied SNAP participants do have to work to receive the benefits under current rules. Children, seniors and those with disabilities comprise almost two-thirds of all SNAP participants.


Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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