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. Roland

    notice he said children health and nutrition. most hospitals are owned by churches in one way or another cutting healthcare affordability hits church bottom lines. they should be more open on their conflict of interest,

    February 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  2. Thanh B.

    Morally wrong are the right words for this country. The rich did not realize that they have people who work for them.
    Their family members do not. What happened to the family members who have no job? They will check into the rich people where they live and they may ambush them one by one. It's not safe if you run the poor down and theyntry realized about that?
    There is no place safer than the U.S. If they do not take care of the poor they will go down with them also.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • architect

      The wise man built his house upon the rock, the foolish man built his house upon the sand, and the rains came tumbling down.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  3. joe

    Jesus said, "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." So let's make sure we do the Christian thing and tax as many of these poor rich people as we can back into heaven.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  4. buke56

    How would Jesus fix the budget? By making the rich render unto Ceasar thus giving a break to the middle class

    February 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  5. Joe

    Who cares what Jesus thinks he's make believe.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  6. Cam

    Jesus, being the Prince of Peace, and the one who advocated turning the other cheek, would no doubt cut or eliminate military spending. Think of what good things we could afford in this country if we weren't embroiled in two incredibly foolish wars and spread our troops and weapons all over the world. We are indeed a warrior nation. Our violent expenditures cost us dearly.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  7. vic

    The Republicans are so religious..LOL.They only worship money and call on the Christians and the undeducated when election rolls around. Anyone can see right rhru them..hippocrites.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • jlmdad


      February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • AlGaN

      Statistics show that Rep. give far more to charities than the Dems. So who are the hippocrates?

      February 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • JThomas

      Talk about uneducated. "hippocrites?" Are you seriously bashing the uneducated when it is clearly apparent that you have none yourself?

      Judge yourself, lest ye be judged. Or, if you prefer, he who lives in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. The rest of your comment continues to show your naivety and ignorance. Likely you only listen to one media outlet.

      All the non-believers and atheists and naysayers share one thing in common. Contempt. Contempt for their fellow man, for anyone who doesn't share their ideals. Sad, really, because Jesus taught about love and compassion. True Christians understand this and don't try to judge or belittle or criticize others. Unfortunately, it's only the manipulating so-called 'Christians' that ever make the news headlines. Why? Because it feed the non-believers and atheists and naysayers who have no faith in much of anything. Oh wait, they do have faith. In money, in scientific theory, in one-sided media outlets. The problem is that faith is faith, no matter how you prefer to twist it to fit your moral compass.

      Anyway, it's too bad that people don't actually WANT to believe in the teachings of Jesus. Why? Because living by them is hard. Loving others as you love yourself, even loving your enemy is very hard. It's easier to live with your head under a rock and your hand in someone else's wallet.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Tohrm

      Sounds like someone hit a little too close to home there, JThomas. "You howl when you're hit" they say...

      February 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Room Full of Mirrors

      @AIGaN only the people who took all the money have any to give, so that shouldn't be to hard to figure out, and the rest of the story is they only contributed to charity for the tax break, leaving the rest of us to pay their share. Double Whammy. What a sweet deal.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  8. j4sef

    It actually gives me a glimmer of hope seeing the amount of non-believers on here.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  9. Paul



    "House of Representatives Republicans will propose new cuts in defense and security spending this week, signaling they are prepared to address politically sensitive areas to tame the ballooning federal deficit, a leading congressman said on Thursday.

    Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also said the Republican leadership has invited House members to find ways to exceed the $32 billion in spending cuts announced by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday."

    February 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  10. sam


    February 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Bible said

      No one would know the time of his return. He would come back like a theif in the night. Must be a politician.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  11. mrSniffy

    WWJD – about the economy? Start more Jesus based bidnesses. And not just trucking companies.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  12. Jim

    What would Jesus cut? Probably his wrists.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Charles

      Good one.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Hangin Round

      Nah. He already did that once before. This time he probably just shake his head, think "what the heck was I thinking" and fade back into the clouds.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  13. dick

    jesus who????

    February 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Head

      You know. That guy that played shortstop for the San Diego Padres.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  14. Baruch

    OK I'll bite. The hypothetical question is of value because many people relate to some idealized Jesus in their minds.

    Based on my readings and my understanding of Christianity (the kind that follows Jesus, not the kind that follows Moses or Paul) if Jesus existed today he would most likely say cut all military spending, cut all assistance to corporations, eliminate tax cuts for the wealthy and tax them more heavily, and spend heavily on social safety net, education, and environmental protection in the many ways this are possible.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  15. Hawkeye1012

    All Jesus would have to do is eliminate all disease using his ultra-Jesus-powers, which would spare us trillions in health care costs. Together we can!

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

      Then then nobody would die and you would find out what REAL misery is.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • AI

      You'd have to keep death, but eliminate disease. The main problem then would become food.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  16. GnatB

    He'd split the money in two... Then split it in two again...
    *and then a miracle occurs*
    and then have enough to fill all the budgets.

    Jesus cheats that way.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Bob

      So does the Fed.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • AI

      Surely you are not saying that Ben Bernanke is the second coming of Jesus? That's exactly what he's been doing! Too bad every time you double the money, it halves in value! 🙂

      February 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  17. DUTCH


    February 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • stevens cat

      what does "got us in doubt" mean. typical.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Duh What'd They Say?

      It was those that claimed to preach his teachings that did that.

      March 1, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  18. Tree

    Do Christians really care what Christ would do or do they only care about what they want to do as individuals? Would Christ spend more money on the military than all the other countries together as a whole? Christianity has gone from being a persecuted religion as it was in its beginning to being the persectuor of others. It isn't the only faith which has become the persecutor, but has been one for quite a while.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • AI

      We only spend more money on military than everyone else because we pay our people so much money in this country. Our standard of living, and consequent labor costs, are much, much higher than they are for others. A better example of prioritization would be any of several: how much of each nation's GDP is dedicated to military spending, how large are different nation's armies, reasonable, apples to apples comparisons. China's army is nearly twice the size of our own. The latest numbers show the US in 24th place in the world in military spending as a percentage of GDP, at about 5%.

      Military spending should be cut, but so should a lot of other things. We can't allow people to cry whenever a cut will impact them, throw a big protest, and take that cut off the table. That will just continue the madness until far worse cuts are forced on us because we can't borrow any more.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  19. jdubbs

    How about we start taxing church income?

    February 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Micajah88

      One of the founders' principles is separation of church and state. Take away the tax exemption if they are politically active.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  20. connor

    He would start by throwing the money lenders out of the temple.....

    February 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • JoeM

      Good one

      February 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • funnyfingers

      I think it's funny how republicans always care about life before it arrives in this world(that is they're against abortion),yet, once life gets here, they don't give a damn about it and have no trouble making cuts to programs that benefit the people that would need it the most.
      As for the question what would Jesus cut, Jesus has nothing to do with it, we're the ones dealing with it and obviously jesus nor God don't care because we're the ones that have put ourselves in this place and we're the only ones that can get ourselves out. Start by cutting back on our population!

      February 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Fokus

      They only want you to focus on controlling "life" before birth so you'll leave controlling it afterwards all up to them. No need to worry about the population control, war or the balancing effects of the earth (Gaia) will take care of that if we don't, whether they believe it will or not. In fact it may have already started.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:44 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.