Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow for the Family Research Council, told the Christian Post on Saturday that welfare programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program bred dependency.
The former Ohio secretary of state and failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate said he favored empowering the poor and working poor to become self-sufficient, although the story does not quote any specific plans suggested by Blackwell for doing this.
“Making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they, in fact, through the dignity of work … can break from the plantation of big government,” Blackwell said.
Christian advocacy groups are divided over whether the 10-year, $40 billion cut to the food stamp program passed last week in the House would help America’s poor.
Rev. Gary Cook, director of church relations at the anti-hunger group Bread for the World, told the Christian Post that food stamps had strong biblical support.
“In the whole kind of Biblical frame, God made three provisions for hungry people,” Cook said. “One was the tithe, which was literally a tax, because the government was the same as the religious order, and allowed widows and orphans to eat.”
“The second provision was that there would always be Sabbath and jubilee, where every seven years and 50 years, there was land redistribution. This provision was to prevent class of people that were currently hungry,” Cook added.
The last, Cook said, was gleaning — where corners of the field were deliberately not harvested so poorer members of the community could gather the remainder and use it to feed themselves.
“Here, hungry people have access to food as a matter of right, not as a matter of charity,” Cook told the newspaper.
But Blackwell said any gaps in coverage should be filled by charity, not the government.
“America is such a compassionate nation, nothing in history that suggests that churches and communities and our families would let people die of hunger, there is absolutely nothing,” said Blackwell.
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