Storage Co. Puts Sign Near Church: 'Anyone That Refuses To Work Should Not Eat’
A storage company in Omaha sparked controversy after putting up a billboard across the street from a church food pantry that reads: “Anyone that refuses to work should not eat.”
- The president of Dino’s Storage, which is known for its creative billboards, according to local news station 3 News Now, said people who drive by the sign should read it carefully.
- "The Lord picks the quotes, the words that he has already said and set in stone from the bible," said Jena Bailey.
"It says 'refuses.' It doesn't say those that 'can't' work; it specifically says 'refuses,' " Bailey said. "The children that we have or the disabled people that we have in this country — it's not saying that they shouldn't eat." A spokeswoman for the company, Jena Bailey, said Dino's has put up bible verses on their billboards since the company began two decades ago.
- Bailey added that the company views its Scripture-themed billboards “as a community service, giving back to the community that we're in. We like to touch, inspire, anybody that we can and we think this is a good way to do that.”
But not everyone agrees with the message of the current sign.
Pastor Paul Moessner, who leads the Kounze Memorial Lutheran Church across the street, said he takes a different approach when serving food to those in need.
- He told the news station: "We would prefer to give food to somebody that doesn't deserve it than to miss somebody who needs it.”
- Moessner also said the message would do well to go “along with the opportunity of here's a job that will give you dignity and help you pay your bills.”
"I don't want to say they're doing it because they're nasty. But at the same time, I'm going to say: 'Here's the message we hope you hear from God, not just somebody who thinks they're talking about God,' " Moessner said.
The sign paraphrases 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which reads in the New International Version: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’”
The verse is but one element of a passage in which the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians warning against idleness, and more specifically, warning about particular individuals among them who were actively working against the interests of the Church in a destructive manner.
Removing a singular verse from the context of its passage and the people to whom it was written is one of the easiest ways to make the Bible fit nearly any narrative an individual might wish.
Bailey is not the first — nor will she be the last — to use the words of the Apostle Paul or some other Bible verse to suggest that Americans who need help feeding themselves and their families are lazy and causing an undue burden on taxpayers like herself. Bailey told 3 News Now that the fact her sign was across from the church’s food pantry “didn't even cross my mind.”
It’s worth noting that The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in 2018 that most working-age recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, do work but are often in unstable or low-paying jobs or both.
The storage company's sign also takes on new meaning in the age of coronavirus, as millions have lost their jobs and debate has emerged over those who refuse to return to potentially unsafe working conditions as states reopen for business.