The Republican Party’s version of Christianity seems to rely on the old adage that God helps those who help themselves. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t actually contain those words, instead preaching a version of compassion towards others that is sorely lacking from many Republic platforms these days. Ken Blackwell, one of President-Elect Donald Trump’s policy advisers, has gone on record claiming that there is “nothing more Christian” than cutting food stamps.
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps Americans put food on the table. Almost half of those receiving SNAP benefits are children or households with children in them, and 15% of beneficiaries are elderly, disabled or both. Since Jesus loved little children and encouraged his followers to provide for the less fortunate, it’s hard to see how a Christian can sincerely claim that cutting SNAP would be a Christian move.
Ken Blackwell wants to cut over $40 billion from SNAP to not “breed dependency” on the program. He wants to see a “temporariness” to the program, because he is apparently unaware of the sweeping welfare reforms from the 1990s. Today, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or cash benefits, cannot be received for more than five years in a lifetime. That leaves SNAP as one of the few government programs that families in economically depressed areas can use consistently.
In Blackwell’s ideal world, church-sponsored pantries would provide help to families in need, not the government. Although most Americans don’t long for a return to the soup lines of the Great Depression, it seems that Blackwell is a unique thinker. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump’s anti-establishment policies have led him to surround himself with advisers who are out of sync with the average American. As he plans to tear down the Affordable Care Act that millions of Americans rely on for health care, dismantle the Department of Education that serves children across the nation and now take food off the plates of hungry children, Americans are left wondering when he’ll start making America great again.