House Republican Says If You’re Unemployed, You Should Starve


Remember when Jesus told that hungry man to get a job instead of giving him bread? Me neither. On Thursday, the supposed “Christian” Republicans in the House of Representatives narrowly voted to eliminate nearly $40 billion in food stamp funding that provides poor families with a way to stave off starvation. Now, on Friday, House Republican Kevin Cramer of North Dakota attempted to excuse his vote in favor of the cuts by posting a Bible verse as a response to a constituent on Facebook who posted a Bible verse of his own.

North Dakota resident Kevin Tengesdal posted the following on Congressman Cramer’s page:

“Dear Congressman Kevin Cramer —

Matthew 25:36-43

The Message (MSG)

34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’”

At 1:55pm on Friday, Cramer responded thusly:

“2 Thessalonians 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV) 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

(Note: Tengesdal has posted that he intends to delete his post since it is filling up his notification box on Facebook, so if you click the link and it doesn’t work, that’s why.)

Of course, the passage Cramer quotes 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.

In short, Cramer has completely misinterpreted his selected verse and has taken it entirely out of context whilst ignoring a Bible verse that has not been. Cramer clearly believes in letting the poor and unemployed starve, thereby proving how dangerous it is when religious fanatics have government power.

So who will be affected by Cramer’s heartlessness? Well, 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.”

As for Cramer’s claim that the unemployed are lazy freeloaders who don’t earn their calories,

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 isn’t a luxury, it prevents people from starving to death while encouraging them to keep looking for a job. Of course, if America hadn’t been put into a recession by Republican policies in the first place, millions less would be in need of food assistance. And that’s not to mention the Republican insistence of austerity that prevented a large enough stimulus from being passed that would have actually lifted the economy. Oh, and then there’s the American Jobs Act that Republicans refused to pass that would have created jobs for the unemployed to seek.

If the GOP thinks their actions won’t backfire, they should think again. Most of those 47 million Americans that Cramer and his fellow House Republicans want to see starve live in the very states they claim to represent.

Cramer and House Republicans also appear to be subscribing to communism, particularly that of the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s tyranny. Cramer and many other Republicans are repeating the 1936 Soviet Constitution word for word when they use that particular verse to justify their hostility to food stamps. According to Bucknell University Article I, Section 12, of Stalin’s 1936 Constitution reads,

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.”

Oh, snap (Pardon the pun)! Once again, Republicans are looking to Soviet Russia as an example of how America should be run. First, they want Russia’s anti-gay policies to be implemented here and now they want the former Soviet constitution as well. Are Republicans really pro-America or pro-Russia? Because the evidence is mounting in support of the latter.

Cramer wasn’t the first Republican to advocate for starving the unemployed and he won’t be the last. In November 2011, then Republican Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann said the same when she said,

Our nation needs to stop doing for people what they can and should do for themselves. Self reliance means, if anyone will not work, neither should he eat.

It would seem Republicans are just digging that hole deeper and deeper as we get closer to the 2014 midterm elections. Not only have they now alienated and threatened the very lives of 47 million Americans, including millions of children and elderly people, they are adopting the policies of Stalin’s Soviet Union and wrapping it into Christian Right-Wing religious dogma to do it. It’s more than a mere hole that they have dug for themselves now. It’s their own mass political grave that they’ll be buried in as more and more people become fed up with them. Once you take food out of the bellies of children and use Stalinist philosophy to do so, you’ve committed political suicide.