In late May, House Budget Chairperson Ryan’s budget proposal was soundly defeated. Along the way, though, some of the key items started discussions across the country about the appropriateness of government programs such as SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Part of Representative Ryan’s premise of proposing 17% in cuts over ten years was that churches should be the primary source of charity for the poor, that the responsibility is the churches’, not the government’s. The cuts proposed were significant enough that spread across all churches, it would have been $50,000 for each church in America. Suddenly, questions abounded in editorials: Is it legal for taxes to be used for SNAP since it’s really charity? Do churches have such responsibility for all poor? Is this the hijacking of churches to carry out the goals of government? Is this a shifting of blame from the government to the churches for unmet needs?
So, I want to hear from you, not about the political side of the discussion, but about the faith side.
Do churches have primary responsibility for meeting the needs of the poor based on the Christian faith?
If so, how is it that the government seems to shoulder the lion’s share of the dollars spent for meeting the needs of the poor for food, food stamps, medical care, welfare, unemployment, etc?
If churches are responsible, is it for all the poor, regardless of their beliefs or the reasons they are poor?