By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The Oklahoma Republican Party set off a social media storm on Tuesday with a Facebook post comparing those who receive food stamps to wild animals.
Titled a "lesson in irony," the post says the U.S. government is proud that its food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, this year reached 46 million people.
"Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us 'Please Do Not Feed the Animals.' Their stated reason for the policy is because 'The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves,'" it said.
The post, which went out on Monday, has received over 1,000 "likes" on Facebook and loads of scathing criticism from those who say some of those who rely on food stamps are active military, the disabled, veterans and the elderly.
"Shame on you, OKGOP, for comparing children and families living in poverty to animals! Your lack of compassion and tact is embarrassing to the entire state," commented Liz Ragland of Oklahoma.
Solidly Republican Oklahoma ranks 15th in the nation in state food stamp participation rate, and the number of people there receiving benefits is rising, according to state data.
Comments from supporters were few and far between and one of them included: "The truth hurts, doesn't it. Please stop feeding the animals," from Steve Jeffers.
No statement had been issued by the party about the post and Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon did not respond to calls for comment.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Lambert)