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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. Robert

    What would Jesus Cut?? Who cares; he is not relevant.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Look In the Mirror

      More than you'll ever be.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  2. Grumpster

    Jesus would cut the tax exempt status of religions. That would be the top thing I would be 100% behind all the way. Unfortunately, the religious right would never hear of it.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  3. Joe

    I think this is an interesting concept. We pay the taxes, but do we really have a say how it is spent? People are compaining about Bush again..... yawn........ We spend billions abroad, and this started 60 years ago with just as many democrats as republicans to blame. It started in the name of defeating communism without ever actually fighting a war, and has progressed to where we are at today. People are so short sighted. We are currently, under a democrat president continuing a war that has lasted for about oh the last 2000 years. Billions are going into this war effort but we are broke at home....

    February 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Rick

      Yes, it's Obama's fault that we're at war. Do you want to revisit your statement? Can you imagine the howls from the republicans had Obama had some balls and said 1.5 years ago that instead of adding troops to Afghanistan that he was going to begin withdrawing them (right away)? Most republicans have never met a war they didn't like. After we knocked off Iraq so quickly (so we thought), the neocons were wanting our army to march into Syria and Iran. Obama's biggest problem is he doesn't seem to be capable of showing emotion and making unpopular decisions (end the war, public option, etc.)

      February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  4. robert

    "If the Republicans are really so worried about balancing the budget, then why are they so opposed to eliminating tax breaks on mililionaires and billionaires."

    Because millionaires and billionaires already pay 90% of the taxes in this country. Do your research before spewing out bad comments.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Well, being as 10% of the population holds 90% of the wealth, that's about right then....except it's more like 5% hold 95%..

      February 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Pat

      Poor rich people. They just can't catch a break. Oh, wait a minute, they caught a BUSH TAX BREAK! Eisenhower was a Republican and thought it was just that the rich pay 70% in income tax. Nixon thought that 50% was alright. No deficits in those days and social services were paid for. No deficits until Ronnie Raygun took office and gave it all away. Why defend those that don't need defending?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Rick

      Your response was empty (worthless). How about if taxes are based on how much one has to lose if the economic system was changed? So millionaires and billionaires have the most to lose and should be paying more "insurance". You really think it's preferable to shelve aide for those that really need it while and not raise the taxes on those most able to pay more? These people should want to pay more since it's our economic system that allowed them to amass that much wealth in the first place.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Confusem With the Facts

      Is that after all the tax loop holes or just what's kept in the country instead of some corporate office in a foriegn country to avoid those taxes. If that's where they want their money, perhaps they should move there and stay. Turned on the TV set lately. Folks aren't real happy there about you either.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  5. Ali

    I think Jesus would cut social spending. (and pretty much everything else) He didn't rely on the gov't of his day to take care of the people. He commanded to the people to take care of one another.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rick

      Sooooooooo, that means we all need to be doctors?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Tax Blind

      Yes and plow the snow off of and fix the highways, pay the army and all the other things the government does for you as well – or tell them just to charge it – oops, wait they been doin that for years because no one wanted to pay for them. hmmm

      February 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  6. stainpouch

    No, I guess I'm not a Christian. I guess your right. I stand abashed in Cheezes. Let us prey: Oh Cheezes wash away my sins so that I might kill thine enemies. Oh Lard, help me kill them all, let me drop flames from the firmaments upon the unrighteous heathens. Oh Lard. Let me kill them all in your name. Amen. Better? No? Darn it. That Cheezes is a tough act to follow.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  7. Peter A.

    Here's exactly how Jesus would do it: http://i.imgur.com/6Png1.jpg

    February 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  8. FYBER

    Really CNN? you guys are pathetic.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  9. Jacob

    Jesus was smart enough to realize, even while preceeding the Enlightenment Period, that government while maybe necessary is a necessary evil. It is not acceptable to put a gun to a neighbor's head and demand money so why is it acceptable when it is done through the force of government? It violates our most basic God-given rights just as Jesus would not advocate aggressive preemptive wars killing thousands of innocent civilians as a means of attaining peace. Jesus was a libertarian plain and simple.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Floundering Fathers

      What it now. You'll confuse those patriots who only want the liberty to take your money.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  10. maglor

    "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."

    I wish more people would heed the above message.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Big Karma bout to happen

      Agreed

      February 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  11. James

    Maybe he'd remove the tax exemption for churches. Wait, no – probably not that.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Money Changers and Temple Salesmen

      He threw us out of the temple. Angered the priests quite a bit.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • John

      The problem with boicmeng better is that you could be so dazzling that you can no longer have any contact with reality and to live in a world of your own. The risk of a crazy diamond is to not be able to accomplish simple things and to forget about feelings. I have seen brilliant people that have forgotten to smile, to eat, they had no practical skill.The only thing they knew was to study. Shine, but do not forget that you still live on Earth! Everybody has a special shine because we are unique.

      March 2, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  12. Blue in a sea of Red

    Hmmm....a Religious Right supporter finally disagreeing with cuts to serve the most vunerable in our society...

    I bet this message doesn't go far. Sounds too much like a Democrat and the supports will bet bullied into backing down.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  13. EGM

    Um, wouldn't Jesus get rid of all health care spending and open up a massive free clinic where he'd just heal everyone of their illnesses? And seriously, if the dude could turn water into wine, couldn't he just do his little magic trick something else and turn it into oil so the Christian Republicans could save America with more oil money? It would be a lot easier than fighting wars for it.

    Oh, Christian mythology cracks me up sometimes...

    February 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • redragon

      LMAO... you made my day

      February 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Awesome Awesomeness

      Funniest. Reply. Ever.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Butt Seriously

      EGM: The level of understanding is quite funny

      February 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  14. Samuel Scrumpwell

    As far as conservative "values" voters go, this is blasphemy. More typical would be "who would Jesus bomb?"

    February 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  15. DylanSt

    He'd first throw out the moneylenders: the Federal Reserve and Wall Street bankers would be toast.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • utahsang

      Liberal Logic is absurd small business creates most of the jobs in this country not government although Obama has been working hard to expand government and small business is classified as 50 employees and under by the federal government increasing taxes on these small business owners only takes money they would use for hiring more people and expanding there businesses.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  16. Jim West

    If the Republicans are really so worried about balancing the budget, then why are they so opposed to eliminating tax breaks on mililionaires and billionaires. Given that reality, the Republican's deep concern about budget deficits does not appear be either sincere or honest.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • utahsang

      Jim I am just a little confused about Obama On the one hand he says small businesses should get tax breaks from the government on the other hand he says that people who make over 250,000 dollars a year are rich and there taxes should be raised seems like double talk to me since people making over 250,000 dollars a year and small business owners are many times the same people.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Rick

      Your logic escapes me. Most "small" business owners don't make $250k/year in income. For those that do, they're doing pretty well, better than what, 95% or more of the country. I think Obama is talking about small business owners that are making less money. A person can have a small business and be a millionaire. I don't think Obama is referring to them.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • utahsang

      By the way how did Obama come up with the formula that someone making 250,000 ayear is rich and someone under 250,000 dollars ayear isn't . Why is Obama instigating class warfare?

      February 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  17. lou

    Republicans want to cut out social services so poor people will be forced to turn to churches for hand outs. It's the religious right's way of 'spreading christianity' through forced need. They do it through religious 'help' groups overseas all the time. Give a poor person a bag of rice and a bible.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  18. Carmliv

    It's about time that religious leaders throughout the country have the courage to protest the greed being reinforced in Washington with the upcoming budget. The current strategy of strangling the poor and the needy to enhance the tax breaks for the rich is obnoxious. The sermons need to come out of the churches and onto the streets!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Satan

      If there is anyone that knows anything about greed, it's the Catholic Church.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Jessie Marker

      It's about time people like you suck it up and realize the amount of debt our country is in. Now, I am not saying we should just cut social programs, I am saying we need to cut both social programs and military 'essentials'. We need to get out of war, we need to stop giving money to jobless people, we need to stop spending money, period. The amount of debt this country is in as of this moment is nothing compared to the future obligations of social welfare and health costs. Our future obligations in health alone is over 60 trillion dollars. It's better to cut now while we can manage a food crisis then to wait until government shuts down and stops handing out checks... because by then, we won't be able to handle the influx of needy people, and for the first time in over 75 years, American's will truly starve. Isn't that what people like you want? To prevent starvation?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Look In the Mirror

      But while almost everyone else is suffering Jesus would insist that the extremely wealthy must keep making 500 times or more than the average citizen. It's only right because there wealth makes them so close to god, just like Ceaser? Render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser's, could just as well have meant Ceaser only thinks he owns it.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Joe

      The Pope is in Rome because if was here he would be taxed out of Existence. The Pope would wear Jeans and tee-shirts just like the rest of us and NO golden paper..you can sell those holy robes on Ebay to pay your taxes!

      February 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  19. Richard Cheese

    Jesus couldn't cut the budget, because HE'S NOT REAL.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • BN

      He's not real? Even if you are not religiious, have you never read any history books on the topic?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • phil

      What would Jesus cut?

      Himself. "He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him; and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5, 6

      This is because he saw the debt we needed to pay: "The debt of sin is death!" (Romans 6:23) and "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

      So...here's what he did: God put Jesus to death. In doing this, the debt for sin was paid. Mankind no longer owes any debt at all! And this was done freely, not with anything we did: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (1 Peter 1:17-18).

      February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Johnny Burk

      To be religious... Amen.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • BN

      Phil, I agree completely. Of course, Jesus did say "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's". He never said don't pay taxes.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Joe

      Jesus would cut anything because he's not Real!! Finally somebody talking sense...4,000 stupid posts and only a few that show reason. The Catholic church has really done a number on people.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Rajesh

      Oare nu se poate spune potrivire in noxtect , in loc de apartenenta la o echipa ? Si ca sa reusesti, trebuie sa fii potrivit, in armonie/rezonanta cu mediul/contextul Eu cred totusi in forta individuala; desi intr-un mediu ostil cred ca inseamna risipa de energie.

      March 2, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  20. peterb

    Jesus would condemn social programs funded by THEFT. Forcibly taking one's money via tax to give to another is just that, and in no way resembles charity. Christ denounced idleness and receipt of confiscated monies is as reprehensible as the theft.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • RW Kerr

      What ever happened to "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's??"

      February 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • D

      Nah, he'd condemn all the crazy tax giveaways we give to the rich. It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, after all ...

      February 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Tony

      Ceasar would spend a lot more on defense and not a dime on the poor. Jesus would tax Ceasar and his cronies to starvation in order to set things right.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Of course, at the time, the government WAS Caesar – not elected. His comment about "doing for the least" certainly suggests that, given a choice of how one's tax dollars were spent, he would want to help suport the poor and needy.

      PeterB: Let's see some Biblical evidence to back up your statement.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Look In the Mirror

      @oeterb: And what about business and political programs funded by theft, or reallocation of monies by TRICKLE DOWN (p'd ON)? There okay right?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Rick

      Some people feel as you do until a situation effects them. For instance – a couple that I know are staunch right wing republicans. Their daughter was born with a serious problem. I don't recall what it was but she had to be instutionalized. These right wingers were crying the loudest about where were the social programs to help them?

      Don't you understand that the social programs for those truly in need are like insurance for everyone else who may or may not ever need the help. But if you do, you'll appreciate these programs. It's absolutely ridiculous to think that it's every person for themselves in a society of over 300 million people. You really think you're so self sufficent? Then refuse social security and medicare when the time comes. Refuse the firemen coming to your home if there's an emergency. You want to be self sufficient? Great. I challenge you to the hermit you'd have to be in order to fulfill your vision of what you believe should be how things are.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      PeterB: And before you suggest it – "God helps those who helps themselves" is not Biblical, it's Ben Franklin.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • utahsang

      liberals no one is stopping you from donating to any charity of your choosing . Somehow instead of doing this liberals want government to be more involved in helping the poor that way they can feel good about themselves without doing anything.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
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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.