Matthew 19:14 in the King James Version of the Bible states,
“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
It is a verse that combines two very specific words: “suffer” and “children.”
The KJV was produced over 400 years ago under the direction of the monarch who followed Elizabeth I to the throne of England, a woman who ushered a golden age for her country and launched its exploration into the new world patronizing the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh for whom our state named its capital.
Interestingly enough, the word “suffer” in that context means “permit.” Jesus was instructing his disciples to allow the children to come unto him.
In the Raleigh, North Carolina of today the words “suffer” and “children” have been often combined.
Except, “suffer” means something totally different and something totally non Christ-like.
In this modern context, “suffer” means to subject to something bad or painful. And what has been revealed this week in the North Carolina Senate’s budget proposal certainly is adding suffering to many children.
This is the same governing body that refused to expand Medicaid to many low-income families that have children thus negating their access to preventative healthcare.
And while bragging about a state surplus in revenue while “serving” a population where over %20 of the children lives in poverty, the NC Senate proposed the following according to NC Policy Watch’s Brian Kennedy:
As we wrote about last week, the Senate budget seeks to permanently prevent North Carolina from providing food assistance to low-income families with children through a process known as broad-based categorical eligibility (CAT EL).
A special data request to the Department of Health and Human Services finds that eliminating CAT EL would strip food assistance from more than 133,000 low-income North Carolinians, 51,345 of whom are children who will also no longer receive free or reduced cost school lunched.
Thirty-six percent of the households that will lose food assistance have children, 28 percent support elders, and 23 percent are households with disabled persons.
What is most egregious about this provision is that SNAP is completely federally funded. The elimination of CAT El would result in ZERO cost savings to the state (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/05/15/nc-senate-budget-strips-food-assistance-children-families/#sthash.5GQaO9W7.dpuf).
It should also be noted that the same senate budget proposal also LOWERS North Carolina’s ranking in per pupil expenditure from 42nd last year to 43rd this year according to figures reported by WRAL (http://www.wral.com/nc-ranks-35th-in-nation-for-teacher-pay-ranked-41st-last-year/16693105/).
And add to that, there was this as reported by thinkprogress.org’s Lindsay Gibbs:
At 3:07 a.m. on Friday morning, North Carolina Senate GOP leaders rushed through a budget amendment that stripped education funding for teaching assistants and STEM programs in districts led by Democrats, cut funding to provide fresh produce to food deserts, reallocated money that was supposed to go to an arts museum and a downtown revitalization project, and eliminated a position that works to secure federal aid for disaster relief.
It appears the amendment wasn’t passed to achieve specific policy goals though, but rather as an act of political retribution after a prolonged and contentious budget negotiation in the state’s senate (https://thinkprogress.org/north-carolina-senate-gop-targets-children-who-live-in-democratic-districts-37e03adae03d).
So there are actions that affect the health of children. And there are actions that affect the food sources for children. And there are actions that affect the education for children.
That’s a lot of suffering and children, but not the kind of “suffering” Christ seemed to be talking about.
Ironic that many of those same state senators profess Christ as their savior and moral compass.
But professing Christ and acting like Christ can be two completely different things.