In addition, my reinvention moves forward. I went to Tulsa this last week and made some connections with people running food banks and working with non-profits. Part of that inspired this post, as I came back to read this story about Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan wanting more cuts to food stamps. At the same time, of course, we see that the deficit is decreasing at one of the fastest rates in modern history, so we know that conservatives lie when they say this is just about fiscal responsibility. It is, for many, a deep dislike of the poor.
But for my Republican friends and family, I suspect a version of truncated thought, and that relates to more than just food stamps. But SNAP is a great example. It goes something like this:
Or what about the death penalty:
- We should cut food stamps because we have far too many people dependent on them. And anyway, the churches should take care of the poor. When I point out that churches are incapable of feeding all of those people, and that many churches and faith organizations are swamped right now, with SNAP at its current levels, my friends usually nod. That will leave a swath of Americans who get some assistance now without much, and they know that. But what will happen to those people? Silence.
- My conservative friends all support it on moral grounds. But when I point out the racial and class bias to the law, they all acknowledge that too. But what will happen to those people? Silence.
- On abortion, most of my friends and family profess something approaching reason. They all hate abortion (as do I), but most believe there should be exceptions where the procedure is used. When I point out that Republicans are removing even those exceptions, they shrug. When I point out that Republicans are, at the same time removing programs and clinics that provide healthcare to pregnant women and children, I get the same shrug. But what will happen to those people? Silence.
I would argue that most religious traditions call for taking care of the most vulnerable, and often demand it. Christianity suggests that not taking care of the poor is the same as not taking care of Jesus himself. In other words, those who say they love Christ, but look the other way at the needs of the poor and the sick are not truthful.