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Is it just? Farm Bill requires able-bodied on food stamps to work part-time or get job-training


Listen to the 10 min audio

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NEW FARM BILL REQUIRES WORK FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE: IS IT JUST?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a new farm bill. Now, a lot of people don’t realize it, but the farm bill also includes food stamps or, known by its new name, the SNAP Program.

In the latest version of the bill, passed by the narrowest of margins — 213 to 211 — all Democrats opposed the bill and the reason why, Harry, is many say they oppose it is because there are new work requirements in this bill. The measure requires participants to work 20 hours per week or enroll in job training if they’re going to pick up what was traditionally known as food stamps. Now, there are exceptions for this for those that are disabled, for youth and other exemptions that would allow some people to get around these requirements.

Harry, my question for you is this: what is the Biblical approach to assistance, what is the Biblical approach to work and how do these two come together?

DR. REEDER: Tom, given the fact that they had the appropriate exemptions — if someone is disabled, unable to work or underage to work and is in need of the assistance — given those exemptions, the fact that you have a bill that is encouraging people to go to work at least 20 hours, part-time, or to be enrolled in a job training or job search process, I find that extraordinarily appropriate and good governing. It astounds me that almost one-half of the Congress would vote against that.

There must be something I am not seeing, but we’ve gone over this bill and the exemptions are there to take care of those who are incapable of work and the fact that you are trying to get people engaged in the workforce is a positive because work is not punishment and work is not something to avoid, but work is something to embrace.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING FOR YOURSELF IS LONG-KNOWN

I remember the comments — I won’t name who, but three personages out of the Civil War — and one of the critiques of slavery that all three of these leaders had was that it was built upon the false assumption that happiness is found in oppressing and forcing and impressing other people to do work for you.

You say, well, what about hiring people? Yeah, you hire people to create work — you don’t hire people to do work for you, but you hire people to create work for them but you’re still supposed to be working. That’s why you can hire somebody because you can now pay them.

WORK WAS GIVEN BY GOD BUT THWARTED BY SIN

All of this is predicated upon the fact that work is not a part of the curse and work is not something to avoid, but work was built right into the creation week when Adam and Eve were made and God gave them what we call a “creation mandate” to subdue the earth — that’s work — rule over the creatures and the creation — stewardship of God’s creation, the home he made for us, that’s work — and then, of course, to be fruitful and multiply and that’ll lead to work when you start raising children. Work is good.

Now, the curse of sin brought frustration, sweat, thorns, briars and complexity, and consequences of the curse of sin upon work but work is not a curse. There is the curse of sinful consequences within work, but it is not work that is the curse. That’s something good. It contributes to self-respect, it contributes to creation of wealth, it contributes for others as it creates jobs for other people when you do a job and you do it rightly. It also contributes not only to your self-respect to your self-engagement and appropriate view of self-esteem that you’re made in the image of God and not only can you work, but you can work with purpose.

WORK CAN (AND SHOULD) BE WORSHIP

And then, ultimately, with the Gospel, we can teach people to do work as worship. You know, work as worship gave rise to a statement in our society called “professional.” What does the word professional mean in its origins out of the Reformation? Well, here was the notion that Calvin, Luther, Knox and others said this: all work is sacred if it is worthwhile work and done worthwhile. And work is a subset of worship — an instrument of worship. Do your work heartily unto the Lord. Therefore, the way you work becomes a profession of your faith so do it with excellence.

“Oh, that guy’s a professional,” meaning he does it with excellence. And when you say to someone, “He’s a professional. He does it with excellence,” that was a compliment out of the Reformation meaning his work honored the Lord and it was an act of worship. “Whether you eat, drink or whatsoever you do, you do them to the glory of God to honor him.” That is something that is of excellence.

Therefore, the bill, I applaud its promotion of work. I also applaud the fact that we have a mechanism of mercy for those who can’t work or those who are in the process of finding work and are demonstrating that process.

IN ANCIENT ISRAEL, A SIMILAR SYSTEM WAS IN PLACE

That is exactly what was happening in Israel. In Israel, if someone was unable to own land and harvest a crop to take care of themselves and to feed themselves and others, then Israel had three definite steps available for them.

The first step, if you owned land, you were called to obey this commandment from the Lord, “Leave the gleanings.” What does that mean, leave the gleanings? Well, that means, when you’re bundling up your harvest, whenever you bundle something, something’s going to fall out. Count that as the providence of God for people who don’t have land or maybe who are not capable of planting and harvesting but they can come out and pick up the gleanings. Notice they are unable to do full work, but they can do some work. They can’t plant and harvest — they don’t have strength or the ability to do that — but they could pick up gleanings. Therefore, you don’t just go hand it to them, but you leave it on the ground so they can pick it up and actually do some work even though mercy is being provided.

Another thing that was stated is, when you harvest, leave the corners of your field — don’t harvest the corners. Well, there are some people who don’t own land and they can’t plant and they can’t do a full harvest, but they could harvest a corner so leave that corner and let them harvest — see, they’re doing some work. You have made a provision for them because they’re incapable of doing the full work so you’ve made the provision for them.

And then the third thing that they would do is you would always have a relative who could be a kinsman redeemer who could take care of someone who could not provide for themselves so the kinsman redeemer was there. Now, by the way, also, the refuge cities were a place that they could flee to until they could “get back on their feet” as well.

Notice how all of the mercy provisions made also a provision for the blessing of work and the blessings that come from work. If someone was incapable of any work, get to the temple or someone could go to the temple for you and the priest had the storehouses from which they could administer to those incapable of work. Go and place yourself at the temple and people would give alms of mercy to you as well.

There were multiple ways to help those who could not work at all but the primary means of helping people was not simply to give them something, but to create a way for them to work. Avoiding of work is a pagan virtue, not a Christian virtue.

CHRISTIANS TURN A CREATION MANDATE INTO A REDEMPTION MANDATE

Christians embrace work as a creation mandate and, because of redemption, they change the creation mandate into a redemption mandate and make work an act of worship so that they do their work heartily unto the Lord and not only create jobs for others by the way they work but take what they have and make sure they’re providing for others in their family and beyond through the tithe, and the offerings, and the alms gifts and creating jobs for people.

How can we not only give if they are incapable of work but how can we create some work and use that as a transition in their life as they move into a full-time vocation through training or applications for jobs? I see this as a wonderful and positive bill because it responds to people in distress but it responds by encouraging and facilitating the blessing and virtues of work, not avoiding it or counting work as a curse.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER THE DIVINE WORK CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US

Praise God for the work that Jesus did. Here we are in need of mercy and what did He do? He shows us mercy by going to work and then He does a work for us to save us. Then He works in us so that we can now work, not for our salvation, but we can work for our Savior in every arena of life.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

2 hours ago

Christmas with Can’t Miss Alabama has spectacular entertainment with ZooLight Safari and Galaxy of Lights

It’s that time of year to eat, drink and be merry.

ZooLight Safari

Christmas magic is at the 25th annual ZooLight Safari with seasonal songs and holiday classics. Celebrate with writing letters to Santa, crafts, ornament decorating, train and carousel rides and holiday games. Join in the fun Dec. 14-23 and Dec. 26-31 from 5-9 p.m. Admission is $10 and ride tickets are $3.50. Parking is free.

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Learn more at https://www.birminghamzoo.com/.

Holiday Spectacular 2018

Enjoy holiday songs at the Red Mountain Theatre Company (RMTC) through Sunday, Dec. 16. Conservatory students will perform at the Holiday Spectacular with local artists to warm your heart and set the stage for a magical season. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Free parking is available on the street in front of the theater and the Park Rite deck, or on the corner of Fourth Avenue North and 19th Street. Paid parking is available in front of the building on 19th Street.

The RMTC is at 301 19th St. N. in Birmingham.

Tickets are available at RMTC.

Christmas at the Falls

It is a wonderful time of the year at Noccalula Falls. Regular park activities are closed to accommodate nightly Christmas entertainment through Sunday, Dec. 30. Festive holiday lights with a visit from Santa will create a magical adventure for all. Admission is $15 and children 3 and under are free. The venue is at 1500 Noccalula Road, Gadsden, 35904.

Call 256-549-4663 or visit www.noccalulafallspark.com.

Galaxy of Lights

Drive through Galaxy of Lights at the Huntsville Botanical Garden through Monday, Dec. 31. The light display and other traditional holiday scenes will be enjoyable from the comfort of your car. Admission is $25 for up to 10 people. Information about vans, buses and discounts are found here.

For details, go to Driving Night FAQ.

The venue is the Huntsville Botanical Garden at 4747 Bob Wallace Ave.

Just Josh – A Chili Country Christmas

Grammy-award nominee Josh Goforth will be in concert at the annual Chili Country Christmas at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge Dec. 14-15. Goforth is a traditional musician and one of the finest fiddle, banjo and guitar players in the country. Audiences will stomp and clap to his fiddle with stories of his grandpa and life in Appalachia. He has performed at the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, throughout Europe and Japan and every state except Hawaii. Tickets are $20, which include the pre-show and chili supper.

Doors open at 6:20 p.m.

For tickets or more information, call 334-685-5524 or 334-670-6302.

Santa’s Underground Workshop at Rickwood Caverns

Santa’s Underground Workshop is underway through Sunday, Dec. 23 from 2-8 p.m. at Rickwood Caverns State Park. Visitors can experience the magic of the season, by viewing over 30,000 colored lights and holiday ornaments, as they walk 175 feet down into the cave. “We had a wonderful time last year with our first Santa’s Underground Workshop,” said Rickwood Caverns State Park Manager Amanda White. “We’re looking forward to sharing the amazing cave with our friends who are regular visitors, as well as those who may have never been here before. Admission is $10 per person, ages 4 and older. Groups of 20 or more can get tickets for $8 each.

For more information visit: https://www.alapark.com.

Lawson State Community Choir in concert

The Lawson State Community College (LSCC) Quartet Christmas Concert is Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at the Birmingham Public Library downtown in the East Grand Reading Room. The performers include the LSCC Quartet, comprised of Kayla King, Heavyn Leigh Whiteside, Javaris Williams, and Jemanuel Pullom. The choir will perform popular Christmas songs and carols, such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night.” LSCC is led by Dr. Jillian Johnson.

For more details, call 205-226-3746 or visit www.bplonline.org.

2018 Governor’s Mansion Christmas in Montgomery

The Alabama Governor’s Mansion holiday tour is Monday, Dec. 17 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Visitors will view the holiday décor, listen to live choir performances and have access to Alabama-made goods in the gift shop.

Call 334-242-7100 to inquire about free tickets.

Enjoy an evening with ‘Dancing with the Stars’

“Dancing with the Stars: Live!” returns to Birmingham Tuesday, Dec. 18 featuring Bobby Bones.  Enjoy everything from ballroom to jazz to modern to hip-hop dance styles. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival

The Alabama Shakespeare Festival presents “The Sound of Music” through Sunday, Dec. 30 as a part of its 2018-19 season. The production tells the beloved story of Maria, a young and spirited nun-turned-governess, and the Von Trapp family. The 1965 film adaption starring Julie Andrews won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Other adaptions have won Tony and Grammy awards.

For tickets, click here.

Ice Skating

Ice skating at Railroad Park continues through Sunday, Jan. 6. The 50-by-80-foot rink will open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.. Ticket prices include skate rental, tax and unlimited time on the ice. Children 12 and under are $10, adults are $12 and groups of 20 or more skate for $9 per person. Tickets are available online or at the rink. Tickets are valid for the entire day. Although skates are included in the ticket price, individuals are welcome to bring their own skates. The rink will be closed Christmas Day.

Visit www.railroadpark.org/iceskating for season passes.

For details, email info@railroadpark.org or call 205-521-9933.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

On this day in Alabama history: Alabama admitted to the Union

December 14, 1819

Alabama became the 22nd state on Dec. 14, 1819, the only state added to the United States that year. The young United States acquired the British claims to all lands east of the Mississippi River, including present-day Alabama, as part of the treaty that ended the American Revolution. Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory, which up until then was claimed by the colony of Georgia. Under pressure from white Southerners to see two slave states emerge, Congress created the Alabama Territory out of the eastern half of the Mississippi Territory on March 3, 1817. William Wyatt Bibb was named governor. The population grew rapidly, which led to petitions for statehood, which was granted two years later.

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Read More at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Ivey’s inaugural events to promote children’s literacy

In keeping with the theme “Keep Alabama Growing,” Governor Kay Ivey’s inaugural committee on Friday announced plans to promote children’s literacy throughout the January 2019 inaugural festivities.

“Investing in the next generation is critical to our ability to keep Alabama growing,” Ivey said in a press release. “As we prepare for four more years of growing opportunities for Alabamians, I can’t think of a better place to begin than with our children’s literacy, ensuring they get a strong start.”

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As part of this effort, the governor’s inaugural committee will be hosting book drives at the Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration on January 12 and the Inaugural Gala in Montgomery on January 14. The books collected will be donated to the Alabama Literacy Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy in communities across the state.

Tickets to the Gulf Coast Inaugural Celebration are available to the general public here. The $25 ticket price will be waived for attendees who bring four children’s books to the celebration.

The Inaugural Gala in Montgomery is invitation only.

More details will be announced in the coming weeks and posted here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Ohio-based Gregory Industries set to invest $4.21 million in Decatur steel plant

Ohio-based galvanized steel company Gregory Industries plans to make a $4.21 million capital investment in a Decatur steel plant, according to Decatur Daily.

The investment will consist of the purchasing of 100,000 square feet of the Willo Products building and 13 adjacent acres at the site for a galvanized steel tubing plant.

Gregory Industries recently purchased Mid-Ohio Tubing. Once the Morgan County plant undergoes renovations and begins operations, it will carry the name Mid-Ohio Tubing.

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Company officials hope to have the plant open by June. The plan is to hire 20 employees at an average annual wage of $47,000 and add four more employees by the end of the third year.

According to Mike Rothacher, the Gregory vice president of corporate services, the company will hire a plant manager, maintenance workers, machine operators and general laborers.

The Industrial Development Board of Decatur approved $172,400 in state, city and Morgan County tax abatements for the company.

Morgan County Economic Development Association president and CEO Jeremy Nails connected with Gregory officials after Nucor found out the Ohio company was looking to expand by venturing into the south.

“We rely on existing industries to put us in contact with companies that they deal with,” Nails said. “We don’t have a lot of available buildings so we were fortunate that this building was available. It’s a win-win for Gregory and Willo.”

The Gregory plant will produce galvanized steel tubing that will be used in material called G-street metal framing. The plant will feature a tubing mill and a roll-forming mill.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

5 hours ago

Alabama House Speaker McCutcheon hospitalized with heart issue, expects to be released following treatment

Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) announced on Friday that he has been hospitalized with a heart issue but expects to be released following treatment over the weekend.

“Deb and I appreciate the prayers of healing that so many have made on my behalf, and I am well on the road to recovery,” McCutcheon said in a press release.

“Tests indicated that I had a blocked blood vessel in my heart, which resulted in the fatigue and shortness of breath that I felt, and the issue will be treated with simple medication,” he explained.

While returning home from the legislative orientation session at the Alabama State House on Thursday, the speaker suffered mild chest pains and shortness of breath and was driven to an emergency room for examination.

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McCutcheon outlined that he first assumed he was suffering from a case of bronchitis, but an EKG indicated a heart issue, which blood tests later confirmed.

His physician recommended a heart catheterization, and those results showed a blood vessel that had closed but did not require a stent and could be treated with medication.

During his recovery, the speaker said he will continue working on House committee assignments and other legislative issues in preparation for the upcoming organizational and regular sessions of the Alabama Legislature. The organizational session begins on January 8.

During the 2014 legislative session, McCutcheon underwent heart bypass surgery and returned to work before the session ended.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn