Nancy Pelosi Keeps Quoting Her Favorite Bible Verse. The Mystery: It’s Not Actually in the Bible.

SLATE:

Nancy Pelosi addressed a gathering of presidents of Christian colleges this week in Washington, where she thanked the evangelical community for its leadership on immigration and refugee policy reform. To this end, the speaker of the House quoted a favorite bit of biblical wisdom in her opening statement: “To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.”

OK, actually, she said, it might not technically be from the Bible. “I can’t find it in the Bible, but I quote it all the time,” Pelosi said as she introduced the quote. “I keep reading and reading the Bible—I know it’s there someplace. It’s supposed to be in Isaiah. I heard a bishop say, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation … ’ ”

To clarify: It is not “there someplace.”

“The Pelosi passage is not in the Bible,” Will Kynes, an associate professor of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Whitworth University, told me by email. The closest analog he could find was Proverbs 14:31, which switches the order of the two main ideas and focuses specifically on the poor: “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him.” Greg MaGee, an associate professor of biblical studies at Taylor University, independently suggested the same verse as the closest approximation of the sentiment in Pelosi’s version.

Pelosi got one thing right: She does in fact “quote it all the time.” The earliest example I found comes from the Congressional Record in 2002, in a speech honoring a prominent Catholic priest in San Francisco who had recently died. “The Bible tells us that to minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship,” she said on the House floor. “To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.”

More from Slate

Advertisements