The Bulls**t of Anti-Welfare Christians

Warning: In this post, I intend to call a spade, a spade. Which means there will be strong words that don’t normally appear on this blog. My use of these words won’t be excessive, but if you find such language offensive, it might be best to skip this piece.

There have been several reports in the news lately about states that are seeking to place further restrictions on their food stamp programs (called SNAP). The argument is that welfare recipients shouldn’t be able to buy certain items or shop in certain stores if they’re receiving government funds. Aside from the fact that these new limitations will only serve to further deprive and humiliate the poor, SNAP fraud is already the lowest of any government program, at less than 4 percent. The little bit of fraud that is committed usually occurs on the retailers’ side.

The truth is, the government has steadily been eroding our nation’s safety net over the past several years, often with the support of conservative Christians. These so-called Christians claim that helping the poor is the sole responsibility of the Church, and that the government is usurping this responsibility with its welfare programs. They say that if welfare programs were cut and taxes lowered, they could do more to combat poverty.

I’m here to say, that’s bullshit. It’s a bullshit argument cloaked in pious-sounding words to disguise a vicious disdain for the poor.

The Bible calls us to be passionate about helping the poor and defending the cause of the oppressed. When you’re passionate about a cause, you’re usually not picky about the people or entities who sign on to help support it. For instance, many conservative Christians are passionate about “blessing Israel,” since the Bible seems to indicate that’s what we should do (Genesis 12:3). Because of this belief, our government gives about $3 billion (that’s billion with a ‘B’) in aid every year to Israel, the 19th most developed country in the world. (The United States is ranked 5th.) Not one of these Christians claim that blessing Israel is the sole responsibility of the Church, or that if the government cut the aid and lowered taxes, they could do more on their own. On the contrary, conservative Christians will literally line the street in front of our nation’s capital in protest any time a senator even suggests reducing the amount of aid our government gives to Israel. All of this over just one scripture.

Or how about the fight against abortion? The Bible doesn’t even speak directly on the issue of abortion, just on murder. Yet we’ll spend hundreds of hours and millions in government funds petitioning the courts to overturn Roe v. Wade. Conservative Christians contribute millions more to pro-life groups and causes.

There are over 100 scriptures that admonish us to care for the poor. Not one. One hundred. Several of these came from the mouth of Jesus himself. Yet government assistance for the poor is somehow viewed as an abuse of taxpayer funds, an overreach of federal power, an usurping of the Church’s responsibility. We’ll clamor to be defined as a Christian nation until the issue of welfare arises. Never mind that the primary purpose of any government is to ensure the well being of its citizens.

It’s bullshit.

Christians who complain about welfare don’t care about the poor. Not one iota. I know that statement is going to offend some people. I know that I’ll get emails and comments saying, “I do so care about the poor! I serve in [insert name of outreach] ministry every week!” Bullshit. If you really cared, you wouldn’t be asking the government to cut housing and food stamps for the single mom I know who is raising three kids on her own while working full-time. If you knew her and people like her, you would be lining the streets in Kansas and Missouri, shouting, “This is bullshit! Stop oppressing the poor!”

The fact of the matter is, you want control of the process. Like the Pharisees, you believe that the poor are poor because they’ve sinned in some way. And you want to personally ensure that the resources only help those YOU think are deserving. When people come through your line at [name of outreach] ministry, you’re checking to see who is shacking up with their boyfriend, who has a cell phone, who has a tattoo or a piercing, or who smells like cigarettes and booze. Showing God’s love to the least of these through abundant generosity never even tickles your mind. Damn it, you’re not here to enable anyone’s bad habits. You’re here to do the least little bit necessary so these people will be motivated to help themselves.

Shame on you. You make a mockery of Christ.

I once heard a Fox News commentator ask, “What about the verse that says if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat?” That directive was given by Paul to the congregation at Thessalonica. The success of that group depended upon every able-bodied person to work and provide for the community. Yet some of these believers, who knew better, were freeloading off the sweat of their brethren. Because of that, the work of Christ was hindered – such as, ahem, helping the poor.

I wonder what Jesus would say to us if he showed up in today’s mega churches and took stock of the cafes, the gyms, the gaming rooms, the rec fields – all designed for our use and comfort. I wonder what he would say to the well-dressed parishioners in the upholstered pews taking in a nice sermon in premium, high-definition sound. I wonder if he would say we’re the freeloaders, as we’re so busy ensuring that the church serves our wants that we’ve neglected the needs of his people. I wonder.

And I tell you, the first time Christ came to earth, he brought a whip for the oppressors. Next time, he will come with a sword. If Christians were as passionate about the poor as Christ was and is, we would be advocating for every available resource to help them. We’d be more vocal about it than any other issue, including Israel, abortion, homosexuality, and abstinence education.

Don’t want to help the poor? Fine. But be honest about it. Quit the bullshit.

21 responses to “The Bulls**t of Anti-Welfare Christians

  1. 👏🏻 Wow, that was amazing. I do not consider myself a Christian but my parents are and it sickens me the disdain my dad in particular seems to have for the poor and poor minorities in particular. He makes some of the most prejudicial, unloving statements I have ever heard. If that’s the impact Jesus has made in your life then thanks but I’ll pass. I realize that isn’t true of all Christians but I can say from 10 years of Christian school and 20+ years of Church that it’s true of the majority that I have met.

    • Jamie, yes this was an amazing article. I am currently on government assistance, including food stamps, while my church has turned their back on me. I just wanted to say that there are many, many, many people that say they are Christians, but by their hate and prejudice cause one to question the veracity of their claim to faith in Christ. Jesus said, (Matt 7:21-23)
      21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

      And also:

      John 13:35- “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

      Please know that there are true Christians out there. You just have to look hard but you will find us. They are not necessarily the ones you see in church. I also know that the true followers of Christ are oppressed by the enemy of our souls, which is what makes following Christ so hard. We are the target of attack. Jesus said if they hated Him, they will hate us also. I pray that the Lord Himself would comfort your heart and reveal Himself to you so that you may count yourself among the (true) brethern. God bless you. And thank you April for this post.

  2. Well done. My direct experience of this as a child and our Pastor’s insistence that our church move to the “rich” East side of town led to the destruction ( literally) of the church…the gathering of $$ to fix our church home up ( at $1.00 an hour babysitting, I gave $15.00 to the cause of new carpet) that then was sold, ( the assistant Pastor stole the funds!) I always wondered why move when most parishioners walked to church and had no way to get to the East side anyway. It was out of seeking a better clientele, since our parish was pook. Our Pastor went on to become a car salesman and dealer…fitting, because he took a lot of poor people for a ride. I still think of my $15 dollars sometimes…it would have served me better as a pair of shoes…instead of being wasted completely on carpet that I didn’t get to walk on. It instilled in me not only a tremendous wariness of “religious” people and their projects, but deep shame for being hungry and I’ll dressed–somehow working almost 40 hours a week while in high school to feed and clothe myself still meant I was doing it wrong…when in reality we were just poor.

  3. For a person who crusades against abuse, it is sad that you here are so abusive. You set up strawman “arguments” and then damn people who supposedly hold those bogus views for the bogus reasons you cite. smh.

    • What strawmen?? Haven’t you heard what Focus on the Family and Hagee in San Antonio have to say about this? Louis Gohmert insisting that welfare recipients were eating crab legs on his dime? Missouri voting to take seafood and steak off the approved list? No protein for poor people uh uh no way. And the people that push this and agree with it ARE liars and hypocrites and they are not following the command of the Savior. April is RIGHT and her words can be backed up with any bible you can pick up and in far too many news stories! Why do you think so many people are REALLY against the ACA? It’s because poor people benefit the most, because they are least likely to qualify for and be able to afford ANY plan prior to the Acts passage. Mainstream Protestants and Catholics have adopted Calvins old heresy of the elect: if you don’t get worldly blessings here, you aren’t gonna get them in the afterlife either! It’s anti bible, and more importantly, ANTI-GOSPEL. No abuse here my friend, just cold hard FACT! If the shoe fits, wear it!

      • Well said; I can’t help but think that if raswhiting thinks calling political policies “bullshit” is on the same level as the abuse April speaks out against, he honestly has no idea what abuse is.

      • True JC. Just one brief correction. The people who are mistreating the poor are not mainline Christians. Mainline Christians, including the Roman Catholics, are sensitive to the needs of the poor. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are the ones supporting the abuse of poor people, homeless people, sick people, hungry people, lonely people, hurting people, minority people, and oppressed people of many varieties. Jesus called them the “least of these.” He stood not just for helping them—but in oneness with them—saying that if you neglected them—then you neglected me.

        Jesus told Caiaphas that he would one day see “the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” The right hand seat was the most honored seat in the ancient Middle Eastern world. You were the king’s greatest friend, close confidante, trusted servant, and most beloved—just like a deeply beloved son or daughter. Basically, if you asked the king for something, he was more than happy to oblige. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals need to be really worried—right now—that the Man in the right hand chair may one day request a license to kick their ass—and He ain’t going to be refused his opportunity.

  4. You are absolutely right on!
    Keep speaking out.
    These people are not advocates for Jesus, they are witless tools for those in power who want to use the name of Jesus to maintain their comfortable place in power.
    It is bull shit and too many are serving it up and calling it the body and blood of Jesus.
    The parable of the rich young ruler tells us much.

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  6. Go April GO April GO APRIL GO!!
    YOU don’t make a mockery of Christ; you have put him on like St Patrick’s breastplate! Let Him be in the minds of all who read you as well!

  7. I grew up poor. The following is a post about my dad who died on Labor Day:

    My dad owned very little in this world, but he was known for being a kind and generous person with what little he had. When my dad was at the funeral home, one of the men he had worked for, who paid him only minimum wage for his great skills, walked to his open casket and broke down sobbing uncontrollably. He was a church man by then in his old age, and he knew my dad had been used and abused all of his life. They were still friends.

    Yes, April is quite correct in her evaluation, and her words were not too strong—perhaps not strong enough. My experience is that the words of Jesus bounce off these people like hailstones on a car. Jesus talked about greater and lesser people in the Kingdom of Heaven. The way I figure it, the two-bit bastards who call themselves Christians in April’s blog post are going to be waiting on my mom and dad hand and foot in their new mansion.

  8. I agree we need to help those who cant help themselves, sick,elderly.
    But Not enable people to stay that way…help them suport themselves and their families. We have to many that just want a hand out and a free ride off the backs of already struggling hard working people.

    • I see you have been reading right wing extremist propaganda issued by the Heritage Foundation. Have you ever been dirt poor? Do you know from firsthand experience why poor people ARE poor people? If you think it is laziness alone in most cases—you are dead wrong. Jesus did not say, “The poor will be with you always because laziness is part of them always.”

      Poor people are poor for a variety of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with laziness. Many of them have low IQs as a function of genetics and growing up in deprived circumstances—not retarded—but low IQs. These are people who might seem normal to you just to talk to them on a sidewalk. Put them in a job situation that requires some serious thought, and they bomb out every time. Employers do not want them—not because they are lazy—but because they are mentally incapable of doing work that would lift them out of poverty. Many of the poor are mentally ill and cannot get or hold a job because of it—and they cannot get treatment for their illness. Many of the poor are old people beyond retirement age. Many of the poor are children. Many of the poor are sick people who have been financially devastated by their sickness and hospital bills. Many of the poor are people who work 40-hour weeks and make so little money that a mouse could barely live on it—while their fabulously wealthy employers drive home to their multimillion dollar mansions at night.

      People like you make me sick to my stomach. I see that you need the movie clip:

  9. Seconded! You rock! I sometimes feel like I am alone in thinking this way. Thanks for making me see once again that I am not alone.
    Blessings on your journey!

  10. Let’s apply the Christian viewpoint to both sides of the issue: it’s wrong for a Christian to not give away his/her money when someone asks for it (which I disagree with because I’m not a Christian), but it’s also wrong to create a government that forces anyone else to do anything.

    Forcing someone to do something is like rape (I.e. forcing a woman to have sex). But is it ever ethically justifiable to force someone to do something for the sake of the survival of another person? Does the end justify the means? If it’s right to force people to help the poor so that they have food to eat, is it right to force a woman to have sex so that she gets pregnant and bears children for a man?

    • False analogy. Paying taxes does not harm a person or take away their dignity. Rape does. Also, while sex may be necessary to the survival of the species, it is not necessary to an individual’s survival.

      You seem unduly fixated on rape.

  11. How’s this for a compromise. Instead of forcing people to pay higher taxes, why doesn’t the government just ask people to donate money voluntarily? They could do it through their IRS tax fillings once a year. I know I once saw something about a $1 donation to fund the presidential campaigns, and helping the poor seems like an even more worthy cause.

    This way the help would be organized nationally, which only the government can do, but it would also give people a choice.

    It isn’t like socialism and capitalism are the only two systems of government. Mix a little anarchism into socialism and you get utopia.

  12. I just want to say that it was a lovely, refreshing accident to stumble upon your blog. Thank you so much for the beautiful pieces you place on here and the message you project. I am an aspiring writer, passionate about social issues, political history and religious history and have learned from and thoroughly enjoyed the posts I’ve read thus far. This simple little article speaks volumes about the complexity of our hypocrisies and wishes to marry religion with politics in America–a wish, might I add, that our forefathers wanted to prevent from happening. Indeed, how can people loudly claim that America is a “Christian nation” and ask government to impose law on behalf of some of Christ’s teachings, but not all? Beautifully done…keep up the amazing work! “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” –Matthew 5:8 (NIV)