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New budget campaign asks 'What would Jesus cut?'
Progressive evangelical Rev. Jim Wallis is spearheading the "What would Jesus cut?" campaign.
February 28th, 2011
10:11 AM ET

New budget campaign asks 'What would Jesus cut?'

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

A coalition of progressive Christian leaders has taken out a full-page ad that asks “What would Jesus cut?” in Monday’s edition of Politico, the opening salvo in what the leaders say will be a broader campaign to prevent cuts for the poor and international aid programs amid the budget battle raging in Washington.

“They’re talking about cutting bed nets for malaria and leaving every piece of military spending untouched,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, who leads the Christian group Sojourners, referring to Republican spending proposals for the rest of this year.

“Are we saying that every piece of military equipment is more important than bed nets, children’s health and nutrition for low-income families?” said Wallis, whose group paid for Monday’s ad. “If so they should be ashamed of themselves.”

The ad and the broader campaign are aimed mostly at a spending measure passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives that cuts $61 billion from current spending levels, including cuts to Head Start, the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program and international aid programs.

Senate Democrats consider those cuts draconian and won't pass them.

The faith leaders behind the "What would Jesus cut" campaign are also lobbying the Obama administration to forego proposed cuts to programs like college grants and heating assistance to low-income Americans in the 2012 federal budget.

House and Senate negotiators are trying to find consensus on a temporary spending measure to avert a government shutdown. Republican House Speaker John Boehner is pushing a short-term spending plan that would cut $4 billion.

Monday’s “What would Jesus cut?” ad is signed by dozens of Christian leaders, including evangelicals like David Beckman, president of the charity Bread for the World, and author Brian McLaren.

"Cutting programs that help those who need them most is morally wrong," Beckmann said in a statement. "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."

Sojourners recently ordered 1,000 “What would Jesus cut?” bracelets for its supporters to send to their representatives in Congress, then ordered 2,000 more when the initial batch ran out. The group says its backers have sent 10,000 "What would Jesus cut?" emails to Capitol Hill.

Wallis said that he and other Christian leaders are meeting in Washington this week to strategize on ways to prevent lawmakers from cutting programs it supports. They are urging cuts in defense spending instead.

“The most corrupt government spending is military spending,” Wallis said. “Its cost overruns, outdated weapons systems, welfare checks to military contractors.”

“This is a biblical choice of swords into plowshares directly and the House Republicans want to beat our ploughshares into more swords," he said. "These priorities that they’re offering are not just wrong or unfair, they’re unbiblical.”

On Sunday, Boenher gave a speech that framed the government’s mounting debt as a moral issue.

"We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face. That means working together to cut spending and rein in government - not shutting it down," Boehner said. "This is very simple: Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money. We don't need to shut down the government to accomplish that."

Boehner's remarks were included in a speech he delivered to the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention in Nashville.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (1,281 Responses)
  1. teepee

    don't know...ask Him...

    March 1, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  2. Craig Shearer

    My jesus would cut the tubes of every welfare mother so that they quit committing welfare fraud.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • teepee

      yeah, your jesus with a small J...

      March 1, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  3. mike kerns

    conservatives dwell on all the negatives greed(more tax cuts for the most fortunate) anger(anybody who dissents from there views) hate (glenn buck) war( need more money) fear(keep everybody in line) jealousy (c character assassination) vindictive(remember valerie plame) lies ( the deficit is obamas fault) why even listen to these people?

    March 1, 2011 at 5:37 am |
  4. Bill Miller

    Defense and war are offensive when we ignore our problems I'n America

    March 1, 2011 at 4:32 am |
  5. Curtis

    Christ would say give unto Caesar which is his and unto Yah that is His. He stated this when the Pharacies had the question on taxes.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:50 am |
  6. Be Very Afraid

    We live in a democratic republic, not a democracy. The power of either party to say, "We cannot be a party to allowing this to happen. The pendulum has swung too far. If it does not settle toward the center soon, the clock will break!" That is the reason that a quorum must be met. Do you really think this has not happened before?!? ONE LOVE!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:03 am |
  7. Mike H.

    Today's Republicans couldn't care less about God, American workers, the poor, or the sick. Nor do they care much about the welfare of our nation. They live to serve those of immense means and influence and employ unsubstantiated scare tactics to keep the proud, but ignorant, sheep on their side. They are as dangerous to our future as any terrorist organization.

    Today's Republicans believe in giving the most to those who have the most, and everyone else is irrelevant and disposable. What good have Republicans done for our nation in the last 10 years? Seriously. What?

    March 1, 2011 at 2:01 am |
  8. iveeno

    Jesus wouldn't become involved in this political mess. He got involved with the politicians once – ran 'em right out of the shopping center with a whip.

    March 1, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Brendan.Russell

      You mean the Temple, they were selling animals and other things in the holiest of building of the time wouldn't you be shocked if you walked into the Vatican and were selling sheep goats chicken and cows, they were also not picking up any of the *mess* so of course it was bad, but nothing to do with politics. A better example would be Pilot letting him die???

      March 1, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  9. Ron

    Who knows. Besides, conservative Christians have made Jesus into a Republican. They "always" know what god thinks.

    March 1, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  10. Kim

    I think this article is right on target. It is incredibly sick, twisted and backwards regarding how the Republicans want to give tax breaks to billionaires all the while taking food and help away from poor people . America is the only industrialized nation where so many people 'live poor and vote rich.' So many average Republicans clamor for policies that will further destroy the middle class and push everyone into complete poverty. What will they do when they need help? This is sadly not surprising though since, statistically, most Republicans are not very educated and do not, on the whole, have advanced degrees, hence, critical thinking skills.

    March 1, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  11. Mari

    I think Jesus would cut all the social programs from the federal budget. People should be moved to help their fellow man, not make them dependent on government. People should donate their own money to worthy causes to aid the poor, sick and marginalized. Instead, we have no choice who gives how much – the government takes money under the guise of being compassionate, but lawmakers can not show compassion by being generous with other people's money.

    March 1, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Brendan.Russell

      Jesus and God are about freedom of choice but if you choose to say you are a follower of Christ then you should live up to that claim. I am Mormon, I try to help my community whenever possible and would gladly live the law of consecration if Christ told me to (the law of consecration is giving all your positions to the lord). but you must realize that this world is imperfect. we must do ALL we can for our fellow man period no matter what Jesus said it is the right thing to do. If you want scripture for everything then just listen to the answer that Jesus gave to the Pharisees when asked which commandments were the most important, FIRST love God thy father. SECOND love thy neighbor as thou loves thyself. PS if you truly love God you would follow ALL of his commandments. thats my opinion and i hope i don't see anti-Mormon stuff plz i love you and hope you continue to chose what is best for you. 😥

      March 1, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • lawton52

      I thought the government was "we the people" Read that somewhere. So shouldn't the tools of we the people help those that struggle?

      March 1, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  12. Tohrm

    This whole thing is a joke when you realize that: not only is everyone unable to agree on what Jesus meant, but they are unable to agree on what they see about ANYTHING.
    Everyone has a different interpretation of all these different translations of second- and third-hand accounts of what Jesus may or may not have said.
    And then there's the individual interpretations of what they think Jesus would DO as if we knew every motivation of a man that may or may not have lived over 2000 years ago of whom we only have these va-gue and ambiguous accounts from other people that were written DECADES after this Jesus guy died.
    What a complete and utterly stupid premise for any article.

    You people need to acknowledge that you really don't know what you're talking about when you talk about Jesus.
    A billion different opinions that all disagree must give you a hint that no one is talking with any real knowledge....right?
    What a pathetic mess your religions are! ALL of them have these problems! ALL OF THEM!

    But do we see anyone really thinking about it? Hardly ever. Most of you have no idea how ridiculous the whole situation looks from the outside. Your "Emperor" has no clothes. He has no budget. He does not exist.

    March 1, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  13. technoabc

    Bottom line if Jesus was living today, he would make Bernie Sanders look like a right wing tea bagger!

    February 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  14. Templar1

    OK, so give a us a list of all the things YOU donate to as the last, great, altruist.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  15. Nick Naranja

    We don't need a massive military, we do need a strong social safety net. Most churches don't have the cojones to harp on a Christian's duty to the poor and instead focus on gays or abortion. Jesus didn't talk about either of those issues, but he harped on taking care of the poor and sick. Evangelicals should have never gotten in bed with politicians but instead they should have acted as strong advocates for policies that serve the greater Christian mission.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • sharon

      Nick, I'm quite certain that Jesus would cut Planned Parenthood as he would never agree with killing innocent unborn children as liberals seem very eager to do. He would also cut the military spending as war in his eyes was never good. Lastly, it would be the Government as he was everything Government is not. Jesus Never forced anyone to do anything. Government does this all the time. Government is Pontius Pilate to Jesus.

      March 1, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Phyvyn Last

      Going to force your will on another? Are there any other choices:
      a) Help to provide a clear salvation.
      b) Force people to use coat hangers and suicide.
      c) Kill Doctors that get fed up with the nasty back street profiteers.
      d) Spend gobs of time and money making it worse.
      The correct answer is to provide a better choice from the start.
      If you advocate harm on pro-choice aren't you are choosing another kind of abortion ?
      Just put out your hand and help then everyone is happy? What do you do about the tragedy in their eyes?
      Better to find a solution before it is a problem.
      Next Best to provide better options for anyone uncomfortable enough to think having a child is too much to continue to exist.
      Stopping pro-choice
      will be killing more babies and mothers
      who can't face their problems because they think no one will help them.
      just help them. The real stuff. The rest is just some one else using you for their agenda.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  16. Terry

    Dear Liberal Evangelical "Leaders": First of all, I'd not be too proud of leading liberal Christians. Please don't presume you know what Jesus would do. He is God and you're not. How would you know what the God think? Remember Isaiah 55:8, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD."

    February 28, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Templar1

      Invalid. Are the words of Jesus good enough for you? If so then read the Lord's prayer:specifically, "thy kingdom come".

      It seems that is the FIRST thing He would do- put God in charge, or do you have another "idea"?

      February 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • lawton52

      "what you do for the least of these you do for me." Let Christ speak for himself.

      March 1, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • unretired05

      Well His thoughts are definitely not your thoughts.

      March 1, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Phyvyn Last

      Or maybe the son and the father would say you sure are loud and now that it's all done and said and you can't go back and fix what you broke but the good news is you can have all the beer and hot dogs you want and in heaven you don't ever need to leave the bleachers even when the show is over. Hot dogs? Beer? Wine? anyone?

      March 1, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Phyvyn Last

      So then you make it to the afterlife – How many relatives will be glad to see you? What if your neighbors are there too? They know where that cross came from...

      March 1, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • Phyvyn Last

      You can start better now too late or wait until way, way, way, way too late.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  17. Bob Brown

    Now wait just a dang minute! Those mosquito nets don't protect me nor anyone on this continent from malaria. On the other hand, the Army *might* protect me from a bunch of crazy people who call us infidels and try to kill us. I know where I want *my* money to go.

    And besides, if we hadn't been imperialistic jerks about DDT, people in Africa wouldn't need mosquito nets any more than I do.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • anonymous

      obviously people in africa do need mosquito nets! helloooo!? have you seen the recent report on malaria on Discovery news?! im positive that if you lived in africa that you would be waiting for those mosquito nets to arrive at your little shelter-home!!

      February 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • unretired05

      If we had sprayed a little more DDT you probably wouldn't have been here to make that ridiculous comment.

      March 1, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  18. truth2power

    "I like your Jesus, I don't like your Christians, they are so unlike your Jesus."
    -Ghandi

    February 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  19. kelly monroe kullberg

    Dear Jim, perhaps you, and your colleagues, Barack Obama and George Soros, could lead by paying back even a small portion of America's debt for which your administration is responsible. You've not cared for the poor. You've merely escalated poverty. Please stop the empty "non-partisan evangelical minister" rhetoric. Not one of those terms is accurate, for you.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • kar

      You might want to do more research. Bush Jr. is responsible for the debt after inheriting an enormous surplus and unprecedented economic growth from Clinton.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • unretired05

      And you and George and the koch boys are more than welcome to pay up for two wars and the millionaire tax cuts!

      March 1, 2011 at 1:47 am |
  20. ArtInChicago

    Naw, Jesus would multiply fishes, loaves, and dollars. His dollars would have value though.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Templar1

      Absolutely, because the FIRST thing He would cut is government.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • ChiCity007

      Jesus would say there is a time to give & a time to keep... His clear vision could easily multiply our dollars like loaves of bread by simply showing us HOW WE CAN MAKE MORE MONEY!! Not just increasing national park pass fees, tax scams, & robot camera police traffic tickets either... I mean items like Charging for the 28,000 US Troops we have stationed in South Korea.... Wake up Obama, Sheppard us to better green money pastures this year.

      March 1, 2011 at 1:47 am |
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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.