The Common Good

What Would Jesus Cut?

Source: Sojourners
Date: February 28, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, February 28, 2011

CONTACT: Evan Trowbridge at etrowbridge@sojo.net / 202-745-4625 or

Tim King at tking@sojo.net / 202-631-7763

 

Rev. Wallis is available for comment

More Than Two Dozen Christian Leaders Send a Budget Message to Congress:

What Would Jesus Cut?

7 denominations heads, prominent Christian orgs tell Congress "A Budget is a Moral Document” in full-page Politico ad

WASHINGTON, DC - As lawmakers grapple over the federal budget, balancing special interests with political maneuvering, a group of high-profile Christian leaders is posing a new question - What Would Jesus Cut?

In a full page ad published in Politico on Monday, the diverse list of more than two dozen Christian leaders called for members of congress to consider the moral implications of their actions in light of Jesus' teaching to never neglect the poor and vulnerable.

The ad comes just a few weeks after the House passed a budget that disproportionately cut programs that protect the poor and help lift them out of their poverty. The House budget includes significant cuts to Heads Start, WIC and critical international aid programs.

"A budget is a moral document,” says Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, "It outlines who and what is important to a country. Jesus said that you shall know a tree by the fruit that it bears. He made the point that you know peoples values and priorities more by what they do than what they say. And right now, the "fruit” coming out of congress looks rotten.”

The advertisement calls for Congress to defend:

· International aid that directly and literally saves lives from pandemic diseases

· Critical child health and family nutrition programs - at home and abroad

· Proven work and income supports that lift families out of poverty

· Support for education, especially in low-income communities

"I believe that vaccines that save children's lives, bed nets that protect them from malaria, and food that keeps their families from starving are more important to Jesus than tax cuts for the rich, bigger subsidies for corporations, and more weapons in a world already filled with conflict,” Wallis said.

In addition, more than 10,000 Sojourners activists have sent emails to Congress calling for them to defend the poor. The campaign has picked up momentum, and 1,000 activists are sending "What Would Jesus Cut?” wrist bands to Congress.

The advertisement's diverse list of 28 signers includes 7 denominational leaders and the heads of major non-profits and associations representing many more churches.

Many of the leaders were responding to the issue that the proposed House budget for the remainder of FY 11 would significantly reduce spending on critical nutrition, health and education programs. Key programs that combat AIDs, Malaria and hunger were cut by almost 40% and programs that promote long-term economic development were reduced by 30%. Head Start faces over $1 billion in cuts and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) could lose 747 million in funding.

The following statements were also issued by three of the ad's signers:

"Cutting programs that help those who need them most is morally wrong. Reducing the federal deficit is critical for our nation's long term health but it should not be done at the expense of the most vulnerable. When Jesus talked about how God will judge nations, he said that God will focus on what we did or did not do for the neediest among us."

-Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and World Food Prize laureate

"As evangelical Christians, we stand committed to a biblical solution in respect to America's fiscal crisis. A biblical framework reconciles deficit reduction with the preservation of spending for compassionate empowerment domestically and abroad. As we cut spending in so many areas, which we should, let us not cut funding for Matthew 25 and Luke 4 (the poor and vulnerable). For at the end of the day, our nation's greatest asset lies embedded in our commitment to 'the least of these.'"

-Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the country's largest Hispanic Evangelical organization

"People of faith will be profoundly disappointed if the debate on the budget splits along partisan or ideological lines. For us, the matter of how the people's money is spent is not a question of Tea Party slogans or liberal polemics. Our faith requires us to preach Jesus' love for the poor, and to declare our conviction that the budget must not take away support from Americans who live in poverty - millions of whom are working families with children seeking a way out of their desperate situation with help only the government can provide.”

-Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, which represents 45 million people and 100,000 congregations in the U.S.

 

Full text of the ad and a complete list of signers in alphabetical order below and a image of the actual ad can be viewed at this link:

What Would Jesus Cut?

A budget is a moral document.

Our faith tells us that the moral test of a society is how it treats the poor. As a country, we face difficult choices, but whether or not we defend vulnerable people should not be one of them. Vaccines, bed nets, and food aid save the lives of thousands of children around the world every day. School lunches and early childhood education, tax credits that reward work and stabilize families - all are sound investments that a just nation must protect, not abandon. The deficit is indeed a moral issue, and we must not bankrupt our nation, nor leave a world of debt for our children. But how we reduce the deficit is also a moral issue. Our budget should not be balanced on the backs of poor and vulnerable people. We ask our legislators to consider "what would Jesus cut?”

Please defend:

· International aid that directly and literally saves lives from pandemic diseases

· Critical child health and family nutrition programs - at home and abroad

· Proven work and income supports that lift families out of poverty

· Support for education, especially in low-income communities

Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore Sr.

President, Progressive National Baptist

Convention, Inc.

Dr. Diana Butler Bass

Author/Educator

David Beckmann

President, Bread for the World

Deborah C. Blue

The Evangelical Covenant Church

Tony Campolo

Eastern University

Noel Castellanos

CEO, Christian Community Development

Association

Shane Claiborne

Author/Activist

Dr. David Gushee

Distinguished University Professor of

Christian Ethics, Mercer University

Dr. Richard L. Hamm

Executive Director, Christian Churches

Together in the USA

Herman Harmelink III

Ecumenical Officer, International Council

of Community Churches

Dr. Joel C. Hunter

Senior Pastor, Northland - A Church

Distributed

Rev. Michael Kinnamon

General Secretary, National Council

of Churches

Dr. Dale E. Luffman

Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer,

Community of Christ

Brian McLaren

Author/Speaker

Wes Granberg-Michaelson

General Secretary,

Reformed Church in America

Stanley J. Noffsinger

General Secretary, Church of the Brethren

Gradye Parsons

Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Dr. Albert J. Raboteau

Princeton University

Soong-Chan Rah

North Park Theological Seminary

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

President, National Hispanic Christian

Leadership Conference

Rev. Gabriel Salguero

President, National Latino Evangelical

Coalition

Ron Sider

President, Evangelicals for Social Action

Ervin R. Stutzman

Executive Director, Mennonite Church USA

Rev. Dr. Stephen J. Thurston

President, National Baptist Convention

of America, Inc., Intl.

Jim Wallis

President and CEO, Sojourners

Dr. Sharon E. Watkins

General Minister and President,

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner

President, Skinner Leadership Institute

Tyler Wigg-Stevenson

Founding Director, Two Futures Project

 

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Jim Wallis is the president and CEO of Sojourners, the largest network of social justice Christians in the United States focused on the biblical call to social justice. Wallis is also author of the New York Times bestsellers God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World,Reviving Faith & Politics. His latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.

Sojourners' mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit www.sojo.net, and www.GodsPolitics.com.