For the last generation, Americans have grown accustomed to evangelical Christianity aggressively entering the arena of public life to support a raft of conservative causes — fights over the contents of school textbooks, battles against gay employment and marriage rights, anti-abortion activism — all of it nudging the Republican Party further and further to the right.
It is, however, far less common to see Christian ideals — or the ideals of any religion, for that matter — harnessed to ideas or initiatives that originate on the political left. There are reasons for this. Offering a religious rationale for policy goals threatens what for many has become the cherished principle of secular rationalism in public life. Invoking a moral basis for public goals, to many otherwise well-intentioned liberals, undermines the separation of church and state, to which they reflexively seek to repel any threat. But this comes at the cost of chronically ceding the moral high ground and a potentially galvanizing force in national politics.
It’s refreshing, therefore, to see a group like What Would Jesus Cut? amid the partisan posturing surrounding debates over the federal deficit crisis. Launched by Jim Wallis, the co-founder and CEO of Sojourners magazine, this movement aims to infuse this critical national debate with thoughtfulness about the moral priorities it reflects. To deliver the message, the campaign sends What Would Jesus Cut? bracelets and emails to congressional representatives, and questions the limited pain of national belt-tightening the “super-rich” are asked to bear under the House Republican deficit-slashing plan.