Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in Texas repeated a cruel talking point that has been uttered by Republicans such as House Rep. Michelle Bachmann and House Rep. Kevin Cramer. During his Sunday sermon, Hagee claimed American taxpayers are being forced to pay double taxes because of “nasty” welfare recipients who can’t find work. He then took a Bible verse out of context to claim that the federal government should allow people who rely on the social safety net to starve.
“Those who pay double through taxes, and those who get a free ride,” Hagee began. “This is not justice, and this is not the American way.”
To those of you who are sick, to those of you who are elderly, to those of you who are disabled, we gladly support you. To the healthy who can work but won’t work, get your nasty self off the couch and go get a job! America has rewarded laziness and we’ve called it welfare. The Bible says ‘The man who does not work, should not eat.’ I know the liberals hate that verse, but read it and weep! It’s God’s position.
Here’s the video via Raw Story.
The verse Hagee is referring to is 2 Thesselonians 3:10, which says:
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
The problem is, Hagee took this verse completely out of context. The passage Hagee read from is a reference to Christians who had stopped working in the false belief that Christ was returning soon. Instead of working the fields to grow their much needed crops, people became gossips and stuck their noses into the private lives of others. Paul warned these Christians to take care of their crops or starve waiting for Jesus to arrive. The verse had nothing to do with people who rely on welfare to help feed their families and everything to do with Christians neglecting doing their jobs to wait for Jesus to return. Sounds a lot like House Republicans.
Speaking of Jesus, he says in Matthew 25:35:
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Last time I checked, Jesus is much closer to God than Paul. But the fact remains, Hagee took the verse out of context and he has the nerve to call himself a pastor.
Furthermore, the out of context verse has been taken out of context previously in history. Specifically, by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Constitution of 1936 states:
In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”
Millions of Russians starved to death under Stalin’s tyranny, and millions of Americans could suffer the same fate if Hagee had his way.
According to Feeding America, 47 million Americans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table.
“76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83% of all SNAP benefits.”
Hagee is even wrong about welfare recipients being lazy couch potatoes.
SNAP already has strict time-limits for unemployed workers. Able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) may only receive 3 months of SNAP benefits during any 3 year period, unless they are working in a qualifying job training program.
The SNAP benefit formula is structured to provide a strong work incentive – for every additional dollar a SNAP participant earns, their benefits decline by about 24 to 36 cents, not a full dollar, so participants have a strong incentive to find work, work longer hours, or seek better-paying employment.
In other words, SNAP prevents people from starving to death while encouraging them to keep looking for a job. There is no “free ride” as Hagee claims. Just down on their luck Americans who can’t find work or can’t find a good enough paying job to care for their families.
If anyone has been getting a “free ride” all these years it’s Hagee himself. After the San Antonio Express-News reported on Hagee’s $1 million plus income in 2001, Hagee reorganized his TV station (Global Evangelism Television) as a church (Grace Church of San Antonio Churches) to shelter tax records. Hagee now shelters all of his assets, including an 8,000 acre ranch, in the Cornerstone Church. Thus, this nasty man evades taxes and steals critical dollars that could be used to strengthen the very programs that keep people from going hungry. While he demonizes welfare recipients, it turns out that he’s a bigger recipient of welfare than all of them and he’s not even poor or unemployed. How “Christian” of him.