House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), while speaking to a group of Christian university presidents last week, quoted her favorite Bible verse — which doesn't actually appear in the Christian Scriptures.
While discussing vital humanitarian issues like immigration, Pelosi said 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."
Preceding her quote, Pelosi admitted she has been unable to locate the verse in the Bible, although she claimed it can be found "someplace," suggesting in the book of Isaiah. However, the verse is not located in Isaiah, or anywhere else in the biblical canon for that matter.
It's not clear where the quote originated. Pelosi attributed it to a "bishop," whom she did not identify.
To be fair, though, the quote has clear biblical undertones. Prior to stating it, Pelosi quoted a famous passage found in the Gospel according to Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. In the passage, Jesus, concluding his famous Olivet Discourse, tells a story about the separation of sheep and goats at the end of time. The sheep refer to those who care for the vulnerable — the hungry, the thirty, the poor, the foreigner, the imprisoned, the sick — while the goats refer to people who ignore the needs of the vulnerable. The sheep, Jesus said, "inherit the Kingdom," while the goats "will go away into eternal punishment."
As Slate noted, Pelosi has frequently cited the quote as coming from the Bible. In fact, it appears 12 times in the congressional record from 2002 to 2018; all references come from Pelosi, the outlet said. Meanwhile, pushback for associating the quote as coming from the biblical canon has been minimal.
Does the quote have any biblical roots?
Will Kynes, an associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Whitworth University, told Slate the closest biblical analog to Pelosi's quote is found in Proverbs 14:31, a book of the Bible known as being part of the Wisdom Literature.
"Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God," the verse declares.