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. JoJo

    Nothing, echoing what Jefferson said about the "wall of separation" between church and state: "Mr. Jefferson—build up that wall!"

    February 28, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Hopefully that wall will fall, and crush religion!

      February 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  2. Jane Doe

    As a Christian, this is a pathetic question to ask in my mind. Jesus did not come to earth to cut things out of a government's budget or even to be a political figure, he came here to redeem man from His sin. And...for those of you who like to compare Jesus to a unicorn, Santa Clause, etc., well, go right ahead and start slinging the immature comments with regards to my statement. It has become par for the course on these forums.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • JohnQuest

      You have a right to your opinions and beliefs, I have the right not to agree with them, please disregard the not-so-bright individuals that may ridicule about your beliefs.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Jesus was a political figure rebelling against the Roman establishment and the ways that the Jewish patriarch was in league with it for financial gains; hence his turning of the money making tables at the temple. The Romans crucified him because they were afraid he would try to incite a rebellion, not because they gave a damn about his religious views. He was disrupting the money flow and Rome was in the Middle East to do business, a bit like America today.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  3. MsAlt

    I agree with all this. Christians don't own this though – it's a human issue imo. Besides – aren't the Christian Right people the ones who are saying don't touch military spending?

    February 28, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Yes, because Jesus wants us to kill.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  4. S N

    Oh, this is really, really good! Especially since all Republicans are such devout Christians!

    What would Jesus say about taking money from the Poor to give Tax Breaks to the Wealthiest 1% in this country ???

    If Jesus preached in America today, the Republicans would be calling him a Socialist!

    February 28, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Dvmarie

      Amen to that

      February 28, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Levi

      Agreed, amen.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Scott

      WHAT MONEY is being "Taken" from the Poor? That's the same a the President saying that extending the Bush tax breaks is lost revenue. At least the rich are WORKING for their money.
      The Poor is GIVEN unearned money. The poor don't even pay ANY taxes.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • DE Steve

      The teachings of Jesus were to function in the world (render unto Caesar) without being a part of the world (unto God what is God's). His admonition to a particular rich man was to sell his possesions and give the proceeds to the poor,... afterwhich he would be a candidate for decipleship. Jesus didnt actually promote taxation but instructed an obedient tolerence of it and other forms of lawful living. His teachings indicate that he wanted his followers to be obedient to GOD above all and that when no conflict between the two exists, the the former obedience (Caesar or the LAW of the land or government as it were ) was in essence obedience to God. He has never requested defence spending. He did indeed command us to GIVE to the poor. of our own free will. He would not take part in telling a government how much to tax or how much to spend on the poor. The Government is not one of his Desciples. His Kingdom trandsends governments, lands, ethnic and economic groups.

      So Jesus wouldn't partake in this debate at all,...He teaches us to Love God, Love our fellow man, and spread his word by FAITH. and by FAITH and works All other things will fall into place.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      I want a poster of Jesus and Karl Marx drinking tea together.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  5. E Phillips

    I'd love to change Genesis 1.28 to any Humanoid be damned if more than two children spring from their loins and if you were in any way wise or intelligent you would learn to look after the eco-systems on which we depend instead of trying to dominate them.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  6. mr claymore

    If someone with the views of jesus had somehow ran the country from the beginning we would be in a completely different world! Presently if someone claiming the views of jesus took over he would quickly be labeled an extremist and disposed of.......maybe a little less cruel since the public has more of a conscious now.....

    February 28, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • dave

      I believe Jesus was already labeled an extremist and crucified for it 2000 years ago, much less what would have happened today.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  7. Qularkono

    He would tell us to look to His Word (like Romans and I Corinthians) ... and tell government to limit itself to the functions that He has commanded ... rather than usurp the Church's functions ...

    February 28, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Qularkono, what functions might they be, please clarify?

      February 28, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • T3chsupport

      Jesus was not a supporter of churches.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Steve the real one

      I disagree! The government did not ursurp. They stepped in because we stepped out! I know that is a blanket statement and does not apply to all but some are too busy building multi million dollar facilities when some congregants are living in boxes!

      February 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  8. sagebrush shorty

    Jesus disliked money lenders. Therefore he would tell the government to live within it's means and not to borrow money.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  9. Along The Way


    February 28, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  10. Dennis

    How would Santa cut the budget?

    February 28, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  11. Myrddin

    The religious right wants to cut funding for abortions AND Headstart, WIC, support for heating the poor, medicaid, elder care, and education...???logic...
    At least some real religious leaders called them out on that, but I doubt that it matters to "True believers" and right wing GOPers.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Qularkono

      that is because those aren't government functions assigned by God ... those are individual and church functions.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  12. Twisted fate this is!

    Reading articles with these kinds of headlines should be entered as a fate on TwoTwistedFates.com – Maybe with a pic of bleeding eyeballs and dried-up brain. Would probably win, too.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  13. alexklimchuk

    Its interesting how people who scream the loudest about helping the poor are usually the greediest people.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Lastbastion

      So anyone that stands up for the poor is greedy? That's some twisted logic you have running there.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  14. Barry

    It was already obvious that the so-called Christians in Congress are convenience Christians. Their priorities for the cuts proved that.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  15. Dennis

    That commie would do it on the backs of the money changers.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  16. JDonaldson

    Important stuff! I would also like to see an article on how Santa Clause would deal with international relations, and perhaps a piece on how unicorn farts effect global warming.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  17. Joe

    Silly question. Jesus wouldn't have to cut the budget. Ever hear about the loaves and fishes?

    February 28, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • dameon5

      Isn't that what the Fed is trying to do by printing money?

      February 28, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Frank

      So true. I

      February 28, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Scott

      No, the gov't is just "Watering down" the coolaid. The loaves and fishes didn't change in quality or taste.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  18. Reality

    Follow the money trail when it comes to likes of Jim Wallis, Billy Graham, Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham, Eboo Patel et al.


    "In July 2010, Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD magazine, wrote that Sojourners accepted money from George Soros, who has financed groups supporting abortion and atheism.[6] Jim Wallis responded as follows: "It's not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I'm sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don't receive money from Soros." Wallis later admitted that Sojourners had, in fact, accepted funds from Soros' Open Society Inst-itute. Wallis stated that the funds made up "the tiniest fraction of Sojourner's funding during that decade–so small that I hadn't remembered them."[6] The grants from the Open Society Insti-tute totaled $275,000 from 2004 to 2007.[7] Wallis apologized to Olasky for his comments about him. Jay Richards wrote that Sojourners had received $2.2 million from various foundation grants from 2003 to 2009, including the Tides Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Wallace Global Fund, and the Streisand Foundation."

    Maybe the Sojourners aka Jim Wallis will sponsor AIDs research with some of their funding? No donations to AIDs support listed on their IRS Form 990. But what do we find on the Sojourners aka Jim Wallis' IRS Form 990 (guidestar.org)?

    Jim Wallis is paid $351,140/yr which includes benefits and speaking honoraria for doing things like giving BO grief about AIDs funding. They/he also have/has ~$1 million invested in the stock and bond market. (A million dollars for AIDS support in Africa would be great.) Again Mr. Wallis/Sojourners pays no taxes on the dividends, interest or capital gains on these investments.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • D

      Yo, every non profit organization has money in the market, it's how you stay alive. Welcome to Earth.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • W247

      I would not trust Jim Wallis farther then I could throw him.
      "Wallis's affinity for Marxism and socialism is evident in many things he himself has said. For example, in 2005 Wallis stated that private charity to help the poor was insufficient, and that true social justice could be achieved only by an omnipotent central government empowered to redistribute wealth: "We have to be very clear about this. Voluntary, faith-based initiatives with no resources, no resources to make any serious difference in poverty reduction, is not adequate. That's a charity that falls far short of Biblical justice."

      February 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Andréa

      I'm with "D" – this is how you stay in the game... and Sojourners doens't sell very much, now do they?

      February 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
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      March 4, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  19. JohnQuest

    CW, are you saying that we should burn witches, stone to death adulterers and anyone that works on Saturday\Sabbath, systematically kill all ga-ys, and enslave anyone we want (except Hebrews\Je-ws). Kill everyone we find wearing mixed fabrics, everyone that does not believe in the Judea\Christian God. And too many other capital offenses punishable by death to mention in a short blog?

    Is this really what you are calling for?

    February 28, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Derek

      No, because the New Testament explains that Christians are not under the yoke of the Old Testament law. You don't have to be Christian to be able to understand that, and you should probably read up on it. Otherwise, you make yourself look stupid in your attempt to make someone else look stupid. Just saying. It's a good thing to actually KNOW about all the religions you want to speak against.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Jane Doe

      Ahhh, you pulled out the mixed fabrics hat, huh? Well, let me explain a few things, which one would know if they read the Bible in its entirety instead of relying on the few scriptures of doom that the atheists and unbelievers love to use for their cause. Those laws were written for a specific people, the Israelites. They were not written for you or I. Secondly, the ceremonial, sacrificial, and dietary laws of the Old Testament are no longer binding as laid out in the New Testament. For example, Christ became the ultimate sacrifice thus it is no longer necessary for people to go into the temple and sacrifice their best lamb. In fact, to do so would say that Christ's death was not sufficient. The moral law, on the other hand, is a different story, but I won't get into that here. Anyway, it gets tiring, hearing those scriptures used by people who think that they are somehow bringing to "light" the truth of God's word. In reality, iIt just shows that you really don't know what you are talking about with regards to who God is.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Please review the following before you start down the dark spiral of name calling"

      Slavery :
      1 Timothy 6:1-3
      Ephesians 6:5-9
      Matthew 18:25

      Death penalty:
      Matthew 5:18-19
      Mat. 15:3-4
      Acts 5:1 to 11
      Acts 6:8 – 7:60

      February 28, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • T3chsupport

      Jesus supported the OT laws. He said as much when the Pharisees had the audacity to ask him why he didn't wash his hands before he ate, and he asked them why they didn't follow his father's old laws and kill their unruly children.

      People should read the Bible closer... there'd be less Christians!

      February 28, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Jane Doe

      Name calling? Who is name calling? Besides, I love how people Google "death penalty and the Bible" and then they use those scriptures to advance their disdain for scripture, without having read the Bible in its entirety.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Jane Doe, if what you believe is true, then what did Jesus mean Matthew 5:18?

      Are you saying that all people are Not created equal (or some are just more equal than others)?

      February 28, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Jane Doe, I was referring to Derek in regards to name calling. For the sake of convenience and accuracy I did look the verses up, however, they did come from your bible, in your opinion are they a true representation of your belief system? I have read the Bible, that's why I am not a Christian.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Jane Doe

      JohnQuest, out of curiosity, what scriptures swayed you to not be a believer? I don't want to persuade you differently, I just like to hear unbelievers views on why they don't believe.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Jane Doe, no singular scripture, I read the Bible as a young man and it just did not make any sense to me. I read it again as I got older and was able to think critically and it made even less sense. I thought I was missing something so I talked to Pastors, Bishops and anyone that would talk about their beliefs, I concluded that I hadn't missed anything, please generally believe because that's what they were taught as children and was never told otherwise. I did not grow up in a believing home, I had to search out religion and God, the more I found out the less I believed.

      Why do you believe, have you always been a part of a religious tradition?

      February 28, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Jane Doe

      JohnQuest: I am glad that you sought out the answers to questions you had. Some people will believe whatever is thrown at them. Unfortunately, that goes for the religious and non-religious people out there. For example, within the Christian community I am really disturbed by the health and wealth gospel that is preached today. Yet, people still take it for truth without considering scripture. That kind of gospel message has hurt a lot of people. A lot of people in that faith system will say, "You are not well because you did not have enough faith" or they will say, "You do not have financial blessing because you did not give enough." It is very sad. On the flip side, there are the non-religious people who don't take the time to investigate religion, but just go with whatever Christopher Hitchens says or some other well-known atheist. I think it is important, regardless of what you believe, to know why you believe. Yes, I grew up in a Christian home, but I struggled in my teens with the idea of Jesus being the only way. It was through a lot of research, prayer, talking to pastors, etc., that I came to a genuine belief in Christ. I sought out the answers to my questions for years. I am fully convinced that Jesus was the Son of God, made man, who has redeemed me from sin and death. Funny how people come to different conclusions regarding faith, isn't it? Thanks for sharing.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  20. CW

    If we would run this country and let the Lord lead our every step then we wouldn't be in the shape we're in today. Its a pity that we have stopped letting the words of the Bible lead our actions.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Ha

      You have got to be kidding. "Let the Lord lead our every step"? Who's "Lord" are you talking about? Jesus? That dead guy who doesn't lead anything? Where is he? How can he lead anyone if he doesn't exist? Are you retarded?

      And the words of your Bible have never stopped any so-called "Christians" from being sleazy and corrupt. Just look at the "Christian Right" who are nothing but sleazy corrupt politicians who hide behind a facade of "religiousness" as they seek wealth and power.

      Why don't you fight against greed instead of whining about your religion? Why don't you do something that makes sense and hits evil where it lives instead of building more places for evil to hide?
      Why don't you stop spouting nonsense and get off your ass and hold these people accountable? Oh, I see, you let them commit every crime in the books just because they say they are "Christian" and can spout biblical verses at you to blind you to what they are really doing.
      Way to go, CW. You are part of the problem.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Doug

      Really ? I think your twisted beliefs are what got us here.. Now steep aside and let the heathens fix this debacle !

      February 28, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Jim KIng

      Okay, live a life of poverty and turning the other cheek and having few material items. When someone goes to kill you simply say "forgive them Lord". You start living that lifestyle. See how foolish it is? Like all Christians you will pick and choose what parts to follow that are convenient for you.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • joe

      When the "Lord" ran this country we had Witch burnings, Slave hangings and Women controlling.

      btw, there was no Jesus. He was a character in a story.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Jane Doe

      Okay, Joe. So with your logic, Christians are to blame for all of the evils in the world? Can we not step back, put aside our beliefs and realize that people from all religions, as well as people with no religion, can really make a debacle of things? To blame Christians for every ill under the sun is, well...uninformed. After all, Kim Jong-Il is not a Christian and he is a corrupt, vile man who has committed a myriad of atrocities against his people. Who do we blame when it comes to people like him? We can't blame his god.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • bailoutsos

      Jesus would tax church income.

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

      And the US under Jesus would make Iran look like paradise.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Chuck

      Jesus is arguable one of the greatest Liberals in history. IF he were alive today he would be crucified by the Right wing.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:31 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.