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. Southern Christian

    There is no country in the history of mankind that has done 1/10 of what America has done for the needy and helpless in both treasure and blood. Jesus was focused on the heart, not a budget.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  2. Jeff

    They’re talking about cutting bed nets for malaria and leaving every piece of military spending untouched,” Ok unless I am unfamiliar with an outbreak of Malaria in this country or a large portion of children in the US sleeping outdoors I believe his statement does not really apply here.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  3. M-kell

    Since in his time if you could not make enough to feed your family they starved to death! In his time it was OK to put people into slavery! In his time the killing of protesters was the norm. The Tea Party and the Right fringe would have loved it there!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  4. Luciano

    as a Roman Catholic Christian, I do not appreciate the way our Saviour's name is used in the headline . To a few hundered million of us our Bleassed Saviours' name is to be revered, using it in this trivial manner is an affront to our belief in who He is, namely God Incarnate

    February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Curious?

      Why is St. Peter's square round and why is the foundation of the cross that sits in the middle of it have a huge Egyptian obelisk as its foundation? Is their some kind of symbolism in that?

      March 1, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  5. Mike

    Let me remind the holy rollers ... God/Jesus has no place in Government. Therefore, it does not matter one ounce how Jesus would cut the budget. What a stupid article.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  6. jlo

    I disagree with this completely. Before all of these government programs were created, the church took care of these people. Shouldn't the churches take some responsibility back so that we can stabilize our economy?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Dude

    I say let the churches take care of the social programs and let the government provide our defense.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Mystified Mystic

      Can someone please explain how religions would be anymore effective at productively using the cash than the government? I just don't see it. Would you then have to pass a religious test to get the help you need from the pittance that would be left over after the rest was spent on fancy buildings, other kinds of foreign aid shell games etc.?

      March 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  8. T. Lee

    How would Jesus cut the budget??

    He would start by ending the tax-exempt status of religion and their so-called "houses of worship" (along with their ministers – more than one of which drive high-end luxury vehicles).

    February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Marthalynne Webb

      Thank you very much T Lee.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  9. Donna

    Response to Dick - your attempt at humor "Jesus who" is sadly pathetic. However, you are named appropriately.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  10. TP

    Anyone with common sense would first cut all the Political Pork, benefits to illegal aliens, 'birthers' and any non-citizens, cut the trillions in Foreign Aid. And any clown in the WH, Congress, or House who puts cutting earned benefits like Social Security or any other programs of real Americans shoudl be indited for "Treason against the American People."

    February 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  11. lol

    First, he would cut off his foreskin....

    February 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • lol

      seriously. But since he doesn't exist or is dead, he would be unable to do anything at all, much less manage a budget.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  12. conradshull

    I understand he thought it a good idea to keep "his kingdom" separate from Cesar's. Of course after the wedding at Cana, he might have been in favor of cutting taxes on wine.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  13. Mesa Mick

    Well it's about time at that least a handful of the "compassionate christian conservatives" have taken a position that progressives, liberals and dems of all religious persuasions – and none at all like the Humanists and atheists – have been championing since who knows when...

    February 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • What We Wish For

      Let's just hope it's not Neil's "kinder gentler machine gun hand"

      March 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  14. W247

    Is Wallis a Marxis?: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1833

    This man is so anti-American, Wallis has an agenda that is definitely NOT Christian, and very unAmerican, How much influence does he have over our President?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Southern Christian

      Beware false prophets.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Matt

      Oh give it a rest.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • W247

      Matt, that's how this country got into this problem in the first place. While we were "giving it a rest" people like Wallis and his associates were tearing apart America from within.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • W247

      another website to stay informed about how Wallis and associates are tearing apart America, be informed folks!


      February 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  15. Tom

    Whatever happened to the omnipotence thing? Why would the big guy have to cut anything?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Karma

      Its working. we're getting exactly what we collectively deserve,

      March 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  16. JustPlainJoe

    Were the magic of wishful thinking to carry the day, then "Jesus" would say, "Get your congressional butts back to work and do what the people sent you here to do..govern!"

    February 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  17. Concerned Tax Payer

    I agree, I have family memebers that are working full time and are still below the poverty line. They are in School and seeking better paying jobs, but times a tough! So why is it our goverment always wants the poorest of people to give the most?

    It is time to trim the fat in congress!! No more free rides!! Cut there wadges, When they retire Social Security nothing more! Just these I have mentioned would save this country Billions. they should have the same health care the rest of us do, no special treatment. If we don't stand up and fight back we will be under communiest rule before you know it! WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  18. oldzoom

    There are way to many lazy bums getting free everything from all levels of government and charities...this is bleeding the tax payers dry. I've seen exconvicts (bums) living with free everything from section8 and living in a nicer place than hard working people do and no one is putting a stop to this so far...we as tax payers can't continue to pay for all the losers out there that have ruined their own lives through bad personal choices.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Mike Johnson

      Welfare amounts to 3% of our budget. Sure there are people that game the system. This is not a moral justification to cut off those really in need. Conservatives, not only look heartless, they look stupid. We are in a recession. To you conservatives, this means there aren't enough jobs for Americans.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Yank the rug out

      And what about the ones who worked overtime for years and years without OT pay, went that extra mile for their companies thinking that would give job security, did their best to make their coworkers jobs easier and more productive, provided food shelter and healthcare for their families some of which had severe disabilities, but in the end lost their jobs to cheap foreign labor so execs could buy another mansion. We just got what we deserved cause we're just losers. Right?

      March 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  19. Two Witnesses

    Jesus would tip over the table of the money changers and chase you all out of the temple. Jesus doesn't do budgets.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  20. frkelsey

    A Christian with good sense about Jesus teachings? WOW I am impressed.....

    February 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
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