Michele Bachmann quotes a famous verse on social justice from the Catholic Bible


Michelle Bachmann has done so many strange and questionable things with the Bible that at first it seemed like just another example. here is what she said while speaking recently:

When the government forces private companies to fire people because people don’t follow what the government says, then you deny people the right to earn a living. In the book of Ecclesiastes it says that when you deny someone the right to their life it is the same as murder, and therefore our government is probably doing some of the most horrific actions. that we have ever seen. If you take all of the bad government actions throughout U.S. history and put them all together, they’re pale compared to what we’re seeing now. It’s a very unique time, so people shouldn’t think they’re crazy when they watch the news and wonder what’s going on. It really is the worst times.

There are so many appalling and deceptive things here. When the government demands that companies provide safety and comply with health guidelines, and fail to do so, and are shut down as a result, it results in the loss of workers’ jobs. The solution is to comply with health and safety guidelines, not to blame the government for forcing you to do what you need to do out of human decency without being required by law. The current situation is just one more example of this same sort of thing.

By claiming this is the worst time in history, she shows why there is such a critical need for education on slavery, Native Americans, and other aspects of U.S. history as things go on. were much worse. Of course, it wasn’t “the absolute worst times” for people of the same ethnicity as Bachmann, but that is precisely why his statement is so appalling, and not just inaccurate.

With so much trouble in this short paragraph, it would be easy to miss what is going on with the biblical. At first, you might just think that Bachmann doesn’t know the Bible or is lying again, since Ecclesiastes nowhere says what he claims. But if you are well versed in Bible matters, you might find, like me, that suddenly something clicks and you realize that Bachmann was not wrong about Ecclesiastes, she remembered something that she probably had. seen in an internet meme, from a book which is sometimes confused with Ecclesiastes since the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira is also known as Ecclesiastes. I think Bachmann had in mind Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 34: 26-27, especially the statement “To take the life of a neighbor is to commit murder”.

Two things make this particularly interesting. The first is that this verse and the book it comes from are not in Bachmann’s Protestant Bible. You can find it in Catholic Bibles among apocryphal or deuterocanonical books. So Bachmann was not quoting something that she considers writing. Additionally, this verse is a favorite of many Catholics because it emphasizes social justice.

Here is the fuller context of the verse (s) I think Bachmann had in mind (Sirach 34: 21-27 NRSV):

If one sacrifices ill-gotten goods, the offering is defiled;
donations from lawless people are not acceptable.
The Most High is not satisfied with the offerings of the wicked,
nor for a multitude of sacrifices he forgives sins.
Like the one who kills a son in front of his father
is the person who offers a sacrifice of the property of the poor.
The bread of the needy is the life of the poor;
whoever deprives them is a murderer.
To take the life of a neighbor is to commit murder;
to deprive an employee of a salary is to spill blood.

This is not a text that a Republican who thinks God loves unbridled capitalism should quote. He emphasizes employment not as a counterbalance to government sanctions against illegal activities, but as a countercurrent to the greed of the rich who could withhold wages, pay inadequately and replace people with. machines to maximize profits at the expense of their well-being. And sticking more closely to the emphasis in the original context, these are the rich who think they are doing something wonderful when they give generously to God, and yet that wealth has been. acquired through injustice and is therefore odious to God, who loves justice and cares for the poor and oppressed.

If I’m right, Bachmann’s appeal to the Bible is therefore doubly ironic: the text she had in mind is not in her Bible as a Protestant, and her message goes against what ‘she and her party defend.

Here is the video with Bachmann saying the things quoted above:

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