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Roger Haglund, Moorhead, Published October 05 2013

Letter: Misconceptions and errors in Bible-quoter’s comments

Brad Leeser’s letter (Sept. 29) contains several misconceptions and errors.

He states that Jesus wanted individual people, not the government, to help the poor. However, in a democracy we are the government, so I don’t think Jesus would really care where the money comes from so long as the poor receive help. Besides church and charity budgets are already stretched to the limit – there is no way they could even begin to feed the poor.

The Hartford Institute for Religion and Research estimates there are 335,000 religious congregations in the U.S. If the House Republican proposals to cut SNAP (food stamps) were enacted, each congregation would have to contribute about $50,000 more annually for the next 10 years to feed the people affected by the cuts. The median church in the U.S. has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday, so you do the math.

Even though Jesus didn’t say that the government should help the poor, Leeser should read the rest of the Bible. There are numerous commands from God instructing the government to care for the poor. The prophet Jeremiah condemned Israel’s king, Jehoiakim, for building a luxurious palace “by unrighteousness and injustice” and urged him to emulate his father, King Josiah. “Are you a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 22:15-16)

Similarly, Daniel warned King Nebuchadnezzar, “So then, Your Majesty, follow my advice. Stop sinning, do what is right, and be merciful to the poor. Then you will continue to be prosperous.” (Daniel 4:27)

Psalm 72:4 says, “May the king judge the poor fairly; may he help the needy and defeat their oppressors.”

In addition God commanded all landowners (Leviticus 23:22) to leave part of their harvest for poor people to gather (in essence a tax on landowners so the poor wouldn’t go hungry).

Leeser’s statement that cars kill many more people than guns is not supported by the facts. In 2011, 32,367 people died in auto accidents and 32,163 were killed by guns. Firearm-related deaths in the United States are expected to surpass the number of traffic fatalities by 2015, according to one recent study. Fourteen states already experience more gun deaths than traffic fatalities. Leeser’s statement that “violence is less common when guns are legal” is not supported by statistics. The

U. S. has by far the highest rate of gun ownership in the world and, even though our murder rate is decreasing, it still has the highest rate of homicides among advanced countries.