Coalition of Christians pushes Congress to protect poor from forced spending cuts
February 25th, 2013
05:13 PM ET

Coalition of Christians pushes Congress to protect poor from forced spending cuts

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – A coalition of noteworthy Christian leaders and thinkers is asking President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to protect the poor from the forced spending cuts that are due to take effect this week.

The group’s open letter frames budget decisions as a moral question for lawmakers and asks them to stop the political brinksmanship.

“Important choices must be made: we must weigh the benefits of tax credits for low-income people and tax breaks for high income people; of nutrition assistance to low-income families and subsidies to agricultural businesses,” the letter says. “Congress can and must develop a balanced and thoughtful path forward that protects the most vulnerable and preserves economic opportunity.”

The group is called Circle of Protection,  and it goes on to ask lawmakers to “maintain a Circle of Protection around effective programs focused on hungry and poor people in our country and around the world.”

Founded nearly two years ago, the groups boasts a politically diverse group of almost 100 Christian leaders, including Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jim Wallis, president of the group Sojourners.

Wallis, who for many years has helped organize Christian coalitions to lobby Congress on issues such as immigration and poverty, said he is prepared to harness the power of the Christian congregations for the issues of poverty and the budget.

“People of faith are saying that what the Bible tells us that a nation will be judged by how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable,” Wallis told CNN. “It doesn’t say it will be judged by its military, its gross domestic product or by its popular culture. That is the principle that we all have to obey.”

On top of sending this letter to the leaders in Congress and the White House, Wallis said the group will ask pastors around the country to engage their congregation on the issue.

The reasons for Wallis’ passion on the issue: his belief that a budget is a moral issue.

“These are moral choices that they are making,” Wallis said. “We are saying that you have to be self-conscience about your choices. These are choices about people, and we have said since the start that the budget is a moral document. It says, who is important and who is not, what is important and what is not.”

If Congress and the White House don’t act on forced spending cuts, known in Washington as the sequester, across-the-board budget cuts will be made to domestic and defense programs starting March 1. The triggered cuts, which originated from the White House in 2011 as Congress faced debate over raising the debt ceiling, were only supposed to be enacted if the two sides couldn’t agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

So far, no agreement has been reached.

What do the cuts mean for most people? Some 4 million home-bound and disabled seniors may have to go without supper this year because of cuts to Meals on Wheels programs, some 70,000 children from lower-income families will not be able to enroll for preschools and day care centers run by Head Start programs this fall and on average, it would mean a cut of $400 for nearly 3.8 million Americans.

For members of the Circle of Protection, these issues are personal, says Wallis.

“We are pastors and faith leaders who know the people are that are going to be hurt if you cut Head Start or food stamps,” Wallis concluded. “We know their names, the moms and kids and dads.”

- CNNMoney’s Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Politics • Poverty

soundoff (562 Responses)
  1. Live4Him

    Why are Christians looking to the Government to do the job that was given to them by Christ?

    February 26, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Damocles

      Because they are used to failed leaders?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who do you think is the "Government," Lie4ever? WE are the government. We ARE, through our taxes, doing what Christ commanded.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Damocles : Because they are used to failed leaders?

      So, your position is that the leaders of this "Coalition of Christians pushes Congress to protect poor from forced spending cuts" are examples of failed leaders?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Al

      Money. It's all about their bottom line.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son : Who do you think is the "Government," Lie4ever

      Still struggling with being civil, huh? Well, until you do, you are ignored.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Damocles

      Shouldn't they just step back and let the deity work his mojo? I mean, why form a coalition, do they not have faith that the deity will provide? If people die from the inattention, well, that's just part of the plan, right?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Becuase while charity is a cornerstone of Christ's message, there are all too few of His followers willing to be actively charitable.
      A civil society provides for it's downtrodden. In theory, individuals helping individuals may seem like the best possible solution, but in reality the proportion of those helping vs those who need help is severly skewed.
      Governmentally controlled social services keeps things regulated and even.
      When's the last time you washed a beggar's feet?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Fvckin' all right! I'm "ignored!" I feel so honored to be in the company of all the others who think you're a flying fvckwit who hasn't got enough brains to interest even a starving zombie, Lie4ever. Thanks ever so for this incredible honor!!! To quote Anne Hathaway, "It came true!" I so hoped this day would come, when you'd recognize my work here with the Ignored by an Azzhole Award! Thank you to the Academy of Azzholes and to you, their President, Lie4ever!

      Where's the Champagne?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      We have to hope that even people who have surrendered their moral sense to an imaginary God can still act as moral people and still recognize what is reasonably considered moral, like looking after the disadvantaged, against the background of absurd values their God "asks" of them.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Damocles

      Congrats to TTTPS!!!! Well done!!

      February 26, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Science


      Simple they are 2 faced.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thanks, Damo! Want my autograph?

      Doesn't Lie4ever make you laugh? "Christians are abdicating their responsibilities" by paying their taxes and having their elected representatives help the needy. Doesn't it occur to the ninny that if she did her part, there'd be no need for the government to help them? The reason the government has to step in is because azzholes like her do nothing to help others. They only do what makes them look good in the eyes of the members of their churches.

      Dumber than a box of hair.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Damocles

      Hells yes I want your autograph!

      Dumber than a box of hair..... on the sun? Ahahahaha.......

      February 26, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Here you go! *scribbling on a napkin*

      Yeah, I love how Lie4ever couldn't tell us when she last washed the feet of a homeless person. Does the sh!twitch ever volunteer in a soup kitchen? Spend time handing out sandwiches and coats to the folks who live in the parks in cities, sleeping on benches? I wonder if she ever bothers to visit a nursing home just to talk to one of the residents there who has no family? Does she ever set foot in an inner city school to volunteer in a class, helping kids who need extra support in learning math or reading?

      As if.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ooops. Almost forgot, Damo, that was a TRIANGULAR napkin, doncha know?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Damocles : I mean, why form a coalition, do they not have faith that the deity will provide? If people die from the inattention, well, that's just part of the plan, right?

      There isn't a need for a coalition. They just need to serve (i.e. give to the poor).


      @Doc Vestibule : Becuase while charity is a cornerstone of Christ's message, there are all too few of His followers willing to be actively charitable.

      Then do you agree that this coalition is unnecessary?

      @Doc Vestibule : In theory, individuals helping individuals may seem like the best possible solution, but in reality the proportion of those helping vs those who need help is severly skewed.

      It should be – Those in need should be far fewer than those able to give.

      @Doc Vestibule : Governmentally controlled social services keeps things regulated and even.

      Hands-off management always encourages abuse. Being personally involved allows the individual to determine how much is need vs. how much is laziness, etc.

      @Doc Vestibule : When's the last time you washed a beggar's feet?

      What difference does my answer make? Regardless of my answer, you couldn't prove or disprove it. So, it is pointless to answer this question.


      Damocles : Congrats to TTTPS!!!! Well done!!

      A toddler is uncivil by nature, but an educated person learns to be civil in all circumstances.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Damocles

      Much thanks! This could be worth as much as a dollar someday! 🙂 When would she possibly set aside some time to help when her pocket organizer is filled with times to ignore the problem?

      Ahh, hell, please don't ignore me. It's just some gentle joshing courtesy of moi. Me wuv you long time.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Damocles

      Goofy posts sometimes demand an uncivil response.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The fvckwit thinks it's "uncivil" to call her Lie4ever. I guess the bozo thinks this is a teaparty and I just served her some nasty truth.

      February 26, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "What difference does my answer make? Regardless of my answer, you couldn't prove or disprove it. So, it is pointless to answer this question."

      What'd I tell ya? The hypocrite doesn't want to be "forced" to pay taxes and can't be bothered to help the poor of her own free will.

      She's never done a thing for anyone she doesn't know and certainly never did anything without expecting a return.

      February 26, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Damocles

      Can I get a ruling by the judges on whether I'm being ignored or not? I hope not because then I'd have to get all weepy and wonder if my life has any purpose. I'd be inconsolable. Colors would seem less bright, birdsong would seem dull. I'd sit on the couch all day in my bathrobe eating cheetos and watching reruns of Springer. Actually that last part doesn't sound half bad.

      More gentle joshing. You know me.

      February 26, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Here Come de Judges

      Come to the dark side, Damocles.

      February 26, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Damocles

      Do you have cake?

      February 26, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Uncivil Toddlers' Coalition

      Judges ain't got no cake, just flying monkeys.

      February 26, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • clarity

      @Gullible4Him: Because they are always looking in the wrong places for things. Conflicted is their middle name.
      Some of the more moderate Christians such as our more Deist key founders recognized this inherent Christian dilemma by observing different Christian sects feuding in their home states:

      Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      Of course early Christians should have been questioning the basis for their beliefs a little more carefully. The gospel stories, all-import to the Christian belief has about as much, maybe less credibility than the stories of Joseph Smith & Related Families, Inc. The unauthored gospel stories with unfounded claims of the supernatural have long been contended to be copies of other previous pagan stories. When challenged the only excuse several early Christian apologists came up with was diabolical mimicry. They claimed that the devil disseminated the fake stories first. How about that – plagiarism backward in time! wink wink.

      February 26, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • clarity

      (I didn't italicize the quote. The last paragraph is mine, not Jefferson's.)

      February 26, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Damocles

      Is your brain still sending you postcards from its undisclosed safehouse?

      February 26, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  2. Jerry

    The have more protections than us; the working stiffs! And. of course, the "Bully-in-Chief" wants to give the "dolers" ever more, again, at the expense of us working stiffs. Oh well...

    On another note, how ignorant can some people be?! It was the so called White media that was anti-Zimmerman right from the beginning. Now that there has been some light shed (NOT so favorable to Martin) on the incident, some ignoramuses are blaming the same media that convicted Zimmerman right after the incident happened. Will Martin's parents and supporters ever accept the facts? I think not!

    I guess some people REALLY want justice ONLY if the outcome suits their purposes.

    The fact is that Martin's parents and supporters WILL NEVER accept a verdict other than GUILTY!!!

    Stay tuned...

    February 26, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • midwest rail

      Way to stay on topic...

      February 26, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What do you bet Jerry is white, blue-collar, lower-middle-income, lives in the south or the midwest, and watches NASCAR?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Do you even understand remotely how "welfare" works?

      Who do you think chooses to be on welfare? Who do you think benefits? Have you ever tried to live on what an average family gets in food stamps and aid to families with dependent children? Have you ever tried to live alone in an economy where you can not find work?

      I'm sure there are likely a few bad apples, but the majority of the people receiving state and federal aid are in genuine need, and what they get from the government barely covers the basic needs. And, if the able bodied adults do find work, it is often at minimum wage, which is enough to lose all or most of their benefits, but not enough to live on.

      Grow up. Look beyond your privilege. Think outside yourself.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  3. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    We don't have to wait until God judges them. Americans can and must judge the GOP at the polls and voting booths on election day in their districts.

    February 26, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  4. Fedup

    Why do you keep on forgetting. This was O`blama`s idea from the beginning. He got his tax increases on the fiscal cliff deal in exchange for the sequestrial deal. Congress wants the cuts spread across the board in a broader approach. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT . You know what americans and O`bama deserve eachother just for being stupid. Wait until 2014 when the three stooges O`bama, Reid and Peliosa have fulll control oft the house and senate. Then you will see another spending spree like no other. Country will have to default and our currency will be worth nothing, thus, we cannot borrow or trade. This is what you wanted this is what you get. Yes, it is 200% his fault, but he does not care about the poor or children all he cares about is turning what used to be a great country into an impoverished nation where nobody has anything except the government

    February 26, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • v_mag

      Nobody does a spending spree like the Repugnants. Reagan massively increased the debt, and Repugnants think he's God. W outdid the god Reagan, and crashed the economy. It's hard to make a case that anyone from any party could screw the middle class more than the Repugnants have done.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • ..

      Hope you don't live here in the US. If you do, move. You're an asshole. You also haven't a bloody clue as to what your idol Boehner has done/is capable of. Shove off, Limbaugh.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  5. Mimimama

    Christ said the poor will always be amongst us. We can protect the poor by empowering our economy, providing jobs, opportunity to advance and freedom to make one's own way, not by handouts. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for a life time. Handouts = dependency, even at the Federal level where the Department of Agriculture routinely reminds us to not feed the wildlife.

    February 26, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are THESE the sort of "handouts" you are blabbering about?

      "What do the cuts mean for most people? Some 4 million home-bound and disabled seniors may have to go without supper this year because of cuts to Meals on Wheels programs, some 70,000 children from lower-income families will not be able to enroll for preschools and day care centers run by Head Start programs this fall and on average, it would mean a cut of $400 for nearly 3.8 million Americans.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • sonny chapman

      WWJD ? "Give them some food yourselves", Mark 6,37.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • v_mag

      Jesus believed in unconditional love and said, "Love thy neighbor." Today's Christians (those with health and plenty in the bank, anyway) believe in "tough love".

      February 26, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Seems to me that TEACHING KIDS would help them to become independent and contributing members of society and HS programs are hardly breaking the bank. Would Mimi like to see Meals on Wheels disappear so that the elderly and disabled can't get a hot meal once a day? How would Mimi have them "learn to fish" when they can't walk?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • enuff

      People connected with Meals on Wheels may disagree with you.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  6. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military.

    February 26, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  7. Hahahahahahahah

    Since when have republicans EVER cared about the POOR!!!!! Hahahahahahahaha

    February 26, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  8. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Au Contraire!!

    Donations to the Christian, Muslim and Jewish cons should stop immediately and all these donations redirected to fund the shortfall. Added details:

    Redirecting our funds and saving a lot of "souls" in the process:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – the faith-based federal projects supported by both Bush and Obama will be eliminated saving $385 million/yr and another $2 billion/yr in grants.

    Giving to religious groups mostly Christian in 2010, totaled $95.8 billion,

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    February 26, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Live4Him

      Plenty of conclusions, but without facts to support such conjecture.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Reality


      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".


      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:


      February 26, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      February 26, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      February 26, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Reality

      From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      The First Five of the 77 Branches:

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
      be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

      Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

      February 26, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  9. LeeCMH

    Notice the Christian leaders are NOT:
    ... hateful Tony Perkins of the hateful Famly Research Council
    ... hateful James Dobson of the hateful Focus on the Family
    ... hateful Bryan Fischer of the hateful American Family Association.

    These and most other Christians are busy trying to use government to stomp gays.

    February 26, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  10. v_mag

    It's kind of nice to hear about Christians who are actually concerned about the poor, like Jesus used to be. Mostly, we hear Christians being for "gun rights", lethal injection, and gross invasions of privacy (they call those things being "pro-life" ).

    February 26, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • LeeCMH

      It does seem strange to hear about Christians actually trying to help and love people rather than stomp and hate people. I thought they're busy trying to pass the Uganda "kill the gays" legislation.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  11. Mack

    What would Jesus do?

    February 26, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • mark scott ducharme

      he'd feed the lot of em with a couple of loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Unfortunely he's banned now from the welfare "state" of America. Good luck with your BS there.

      February 26, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Thoth

      I don't know. Neither do you. The man died over 2000 years ago.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • meifumado

      H would not eat pork.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  12. WASP

    i agree with the great GEORGE CARLIN.
    "if religion wants to be involved in politics, let them pay their admission fee like everyone else."

    February 26, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  13. kevin

    Spare me your false concern! If Christians were so worried about the poor and weak, why do they endorse so many tea party idiots! Christians caused this! They were the first group to hijack the republican party and the repubs duped them into supporting them with the false promise of overturning Roe v Wade! This is what you get when you are a 1 issue voter!

    February 26, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  14. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    What's disgusting is reading in the news about all the kids that have been hurt by the inappropriate handling of problem priests of the Catholic church.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill would not is not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well and don't want to violate their beliefs.

    Recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    On sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 26, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Caritas

      How is your vitriol related to the article? Do you think it is bad that these people want the most vulnerable in our society to be considerd in the budget discussions?

      As to citing the early Presidents, in support for some generic anti-religious post, one of those POTUS's -Jefferson-was most probably sleeping wtih a woman that he held in chattel slavery and maintaining his leisure to write off the sweat of other black Virginians, while a Quaker had founded the Anti-Slavery Society in 1783. While he wrote that. "We hold these truths to be self-evident – that all men are created equal...". Ironic much? His inconsistencies did not erase his other acheivements any more than the failure of other believers to fulfill their ideals makes the group or beleif system entirely wrong. Some of the other quotes are out of context.

      February 26, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  15. Disgusted

    Look at the body english. Obama wants nothing in the way of compromise. He is the King in every way.

    February 26, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • sam stone

      waaah, waaah, waaah......

      February 26, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • sam stone

      Disgusted: Your hissy fit aside, kings are not elected, Obama was. Kings do not have time limits on their leadership, Obama does. Kings claim that god gave them soverign authority, Obama derives his authority from the VOTE OF THE PEOPLE. So, tell us how Obama is a king "king" in every way.

      February 26, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • v_mag

      I think you mean "body language". Body English is "bodily movement in a usually unconscious attempt to influence the movement of a propelled object, such as a ball." Since the President is not moving, it can't be body English. The rest of your post is just as ignorant, since a king exercises vast power. Obviously, the Repugnant power of obstruction has totally paralyzed the Obama administration.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • mark scott ducharme

      And all of his ilk (look below) are just like him. the best election our tax dollars have ever bought. Hey all you leaches out there. The victim (America) is almost sucked dry. Get ready for a real famine.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    February 26, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!

      February 26, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • midwest rail


      February 26, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Ted

      The person posting this all the time seems desperate because their prayers aren't working. Trying to brainwash people into believing something still won't make it true.

      February 26, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • mark scott ducharme

      What are you talking about. Atheism and Prozac make the world go round.

      February 26, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • enuff

      There is a big difference between religion and faith. What you have are examples of religion dictating faith. After all, don'r you think God could give the knowledge of medicine as well?

      February 26, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • meifumado

      Hay why don't you prey for the atheists to leave you alone?
      Or have tried that and it's not working?


      February 26, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  17. Freddy Chang

    If poor people will get out and vote more often, this goal would be a priority. Many poor folks whom I have known think voting is a useless endeavor. Let's take care of the poor in the US first... then worry about giveaways to other countries.

    February 26, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • Saraswati

      We also need to introduce ranked balloting and multiple representatives to a region if we want to see real representaion, but you'll never see those elected under the current rules promoting systems that will lose them power.

      February 26, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Many poor feel that voting is pointless due to the numerous examples of voter fraud designed to invalidate their choices.
      The head of the Republican Party in Maine was astounded when "there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day. Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in town knows anyone who’s black. How did that happen?"

      February 26, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's well-known now. In many states gerrymandering has been a successful enterprise of Republicans. Now they have tried to introduce the idea that the members of the electoral college should be selected by district. They are actively trying to disenfranchise not just the poor, but anyone who might oppose them.


      February 26, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  18. Science

    The IRS has the power to tax the churches , for some reasons the IRS has not enforced the laws. Go figure.

    February 26, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Mirosal

      The churches claim "non-profit" status. With the right paperwork, non-profit enti'ties are not taxed.

      February 26, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Science

      Until they enter politics.


      February 26, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  19. Jaketinback

    You,re as full of c r a p as a Christmas turkey. You know nothing of 99% of the church's and obviously don't go to any. The majority of the church's are the only reason a great many charities remain functional. Sure there are phony church's and phony preachers but they are in the minority but get the most publicity.

    February 26, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • End Religion

      Your churches are closing down, your religion dying, but the giving.... that will go one because people don't need imaginary sky buddies to give. Good people go on being good people, whether there is a fraudulent church to sit within or not.

      February 26, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Dippy

      Jaketinback, it's "churches," not "church's." Please try harder.

      February 26, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "The majority of the church's are the only reason a great many charities remain functional."

      Without the church charitable organizations would do just fine and propaganda promoting the church would not be shoved down the throat in already potentially vulnerable times.
      Secular charities are numerous and do not try to sell a fake resolution.
      The following is a list of Secular Charities:
      Accion micro-lending
      Action Aid
      Afghan Children's Fund National Geographic fund to educate Afghan children
      Alternative Gifts International
      American Civil Liberties Union
      American Humanists
      American Lung Association
      American Red Cross
      American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
      Americares Delivering medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in crisis around the world.
      Amnesty International
      Atheist Centre of India runs 2 charities: disaster relief, women's empowerment,
      Atheist Volunteers
      Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation working to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. It is ironically satisfying that this goal is very close to that of "healing amputees", yet Christopher Reeve was an atheist. 🙂
      Coalition to stop the use of child soldiers
      Direct Relief International
      Doctors Without Borders <== Haiti Earthquake Relief
      Feeding America formerly known as America's Second Harvest
      FINCA International
      Freedom From Religion Foundation
      The Halo Trust Princess Diana supported this land mine charity.
      Fred Hollows Foundation preventing blindness
      Heifer Project International
      Humane Society US
      Humanist Charities same as American Humanists
      International Committee of the Red Cross <== Haiti Earthquake Relief
      Kiva person-to-person micro-lending
      Lions Club International
      Meals On Wheels some local affiliates may be run by churches
      Mercy Corps
      Orbis saving eyesight worldwide
      Oxfam America
      Pathfinder International
      Partners In Health
      Peace Corps U.S. government org
      Planned Parenthood
      Rotary International
      Ryan's Well Foundation Digs wells in Africa
      Secular Coalition for America
      Secular Student Alliance supports freethinking kids on college campuses
      The Smile Train funds surgeries to correct children's cleft palate
      SOS Children's Villages

      February 26, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • wt sherman

      the only good atheist is a dead stheist

      February 26, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      wt sherman: How very christian of you...might I suggest you step away from your Atheist invented computer and your Atheist invented phone and your Atheist invented internet-without an Atheist you'd never have the chance to spew so much hate so widely.

      February 26, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • sam stone

      "the only good atheist is a dead stheist"

      come and get us

      February 26, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      careful there Sam, he might go all Alex Jones on you.

      February 26, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Mirosal

      nah .. he'll just pray to his "god" to smite us all ... typical thu'mper just like in the Old Testament ... letting "god" kill the enemy because he's too much of a pus'sy-wimp to do it himself.

      February 26, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • fintastic

      "the only good atheist is a dead stheist"

      What's a "stheist"??.............. is that short for "supertheist"?

      February 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  20. rogue351

    Bull, how about taxing religion and putting the taxes toward helping the poor. Some of the Mega chruches bring in billions each year and that money ends up buying private jets, Cars, Million dollar homes all on the promise god will save you. Well just in case lets hedge our bets and tax religion since it is powerfully obvious they do not have it in there heart to help the poor on there own.

    February 25, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.