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. Jay

    Jesus' opinion seems to change a lot, depending on who happens to be talking about him at the time. Only atheists seem to notice this, though.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Joe

      Jesus would pay everybody the same and "spread the weath" Thus making it pointless to waste your money in school to make yourself more marketable and allowing some illegal to earn the same as you eventhough that illegal has NO citizenship, no ID and hasn't even graduated from Highschool oh yea that's fair.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  2. hehehe

    I met this guy named Jesus and he says he wants to pay less taxes but he wants the govt to provide more services and amenities.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  3. Jan

    The exact way that Santa claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy would – who knows – it doesn't matter cause they are all MADE UP CHARACTERS!!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  4. jlmdad

    The republicans only believe in god and religion as far as it serves their agenda, which is to steal and hoard as much of the world's wealth and resources as possible, by duping the poor believers with the promise of a better life after this miserable one. Compassion, brotherhood of man, and working towards a society that is fair and equitable for all is the last thing they want, because it threatens their control and ownership of said wealth, which most never earned in the first place. Wake up right wing. Egypt, Tunisia, Lybia, Bahrain, Yemen...the United States of America. We're coming for you next!!!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Zur

      Bring it on!!! I am tired of you religious nut cases, the sooner we move past these myths the better.

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

      I know one thing for sure and I can speculate about the other. 1. Almost everybody on this Blog hates Republicans. 2. If they all hate republicans they must be liberal democrats because I haven't heard allot of love comming from the mouths infact the word HATE has come up quite a bit. Liberals love to HATE and call people po-po heads and spout their ideology with no actual solutions outside of WE HATE THOSE REPUBLICANS Those Stupid Republicans and tough choices... those stupid poopie heads. as if the Democrats are angles and the Unions are milking the money out of us...go hump a tree it might help you libs work off some stress.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  5. Scott

    Matt. 22:21 "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Jesus would not have any interest in our politics. He did not come to help those in power, He came to seek and save the lost. It angers me that a Reverend had anything to do with this article because he should know better. Jesus does not care what our government does, He only cares about the souls of the lost and what His followers are doing to help and love them.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  6. Adam M

    It is funny how these Christian leaders are now criticizing the House Republicans that they voted into office. Let's be honest, most of the people in office screaming about cutting every benefit for the poor were voted in by the same people that are complaining. How about this, why don't these Christian leaders have their flocks vote within their interests for a change instead of for the "ONE Social Issue" (and we know what issue that is) that they have in common with a candidate.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  7. Jim Jones

    Jesus would want tax cuts for the top 1%....he told John Boehner as they cried about it. According to Republicans, Jesus would also be against collective bargaining and worker's rights. Would he wear a 10,000 dollar suit, or stick with the flowing robes and sandals?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Zur

      I know I guy named Jesus. He works in restaurant in town. I don't think this is what he believes though.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  8. Ali

    I really, really don't think progressives should want us to start being Biblically consistent, with our budget or anything else. That said, fund the malaria nets, geez. There are many, many projects that could be cut before we do something like that.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  9. Breakdancing Fool

    What would an illegitimate and illiterate whacko do? Probably something incredibly stupid.

    Jesus was probably gay, too. So he would live in San Francisco and have lots of really sweaty man-love in between answering stupid questions from his retarded followers.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Card Board Cut Up

      I think he just did. Isn't your full name Break Wind Dancing Fool?

      March 2, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  10. Underdog

    Amen!!! If you want to know whether national health care/insurance are Biblical, check out Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) – spoiler alert: yes, it can be Biblical. And as for whether or not taxes should be higher for the rich, Jesus said of how you use money "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:35-48). For anyone who says the private sector should handle charity, I can tell you as someone who has worked in a church for over seven years that the private sector CANNOT handle the needs of the poor.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Zur

      We don't care what your little book says. I can pull out a book to and quote it as well.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Hello McFly

      Zur: Don't read the language? Can't think the thoughts through? Truth can come from anywhere if you open your mind and think. Even the well loved comic books probably have some truth in them worth considering; I would hope at least as much as they're referred to by one group. And by the way: myth was not a lie, but a story with hidden meaning to keep the fools out since they wouldn't understand. Understand?

      March 2, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  11. tvmc

    Finally, someone who sees through the contradictory rhetoric that endorses excessive military spending, encouraging exhorbitant executive salaries, cutting education, dismissing the poor and YET calling these actions "moral". At least Rome did not know much about Jesus. What is our excuse?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Zur

      I am sure Rome could care less about what some nutjob hebrew said. Maybe we should to learn from Rome.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • tvmc

      They must have cared...Rome became Christian.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  12. marshall l. garrison

    Jesus is a Democrat.He is described as a person with compassion and with concern with the poor, two traits our GOP congressmen and senators are completely without.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Zur

      Jesus is a myth

      February 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • smar

      Excuse me marshall, but I think you might be confused on the definition of a Democrat:

      Democrat: a person who has no real compassion for anybody and is more concerned with self-love, egotism, and the "level of compassion and concern for the poor" that everybody else SHOULD have around them (as defined by his pitiful and arrogant understanding of the world around him). It would seem that the childish compulsion to control people around you is as universal a characteristic as humans have. A democrat is notable for his unbending willingness to hold his neighbors at gun point in service to this childish and dangerous compulsion.

      And, in a perfect world, if we were lucky, these would be traits that our "GOP congressmen and senators are completely without"

      February 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  13. Vann

    I'm an Atheist, an I support this.

    Get us out of Iraq. Cut the grossly inflated military budget in half. Put money back into our country and halt the deficit.

    What's the big mystery?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  14. Concerned Tax Payer

    On the other hand....No worries, Jesus is going to return and handle it for all of us! That's what he will do! and in the not to distant future I assure you.... 🙂 Beam Me Up Jesus!!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  15. aizen

    jesus would have beat up the politicians with a whip and kick them out, he didnt get himself involved with politics and left it to the politicians...i dont know why americans are so stuck on jesus and go and christianity while in fact they dont even live close to being christians..the hypocrisy is so funny..why ask what Jesus would cut when we know he wasnt political and didnt care for the money? and since when religion gets involved in politics?? the US needs to cut this BS, you are just as radical as the islamists, i dont see no difference...in north america, christianity is boderline racism, and cause too many toruble just like in the rest of the world..please stop force feeding us verse from the bible if you dont follow it yourselves and please stop requiring your president to be christians or believers..thats an outdated view of the world.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  16. Molly

    Jesus was executed for being a dumb-ass. Who cares what he would do with a modern-day government budget?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Mary

      Wow. Jesus was a dumb-a** you are kidding right? He died for your sins. Yes he died so that you could use that foul language and be forgiven. If someone had a devil slogan I guess that is who you would side with. God bless you and lead you down a path that will heal all the wounds you have inside leading away for him and his son who died to erase all your sins away.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  17. Joe

    Yes, throw Religion into anything and you get a bazillion morons.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • More than a bazillion

      We're already here. Religion usually makes less if properly applied, but as you can see...

      March 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  18. Mark B.

    What a foolish topic this is. Jesus would have NOTHING to do with the government and recognize them for the hypocrites they are. He would also quckly point to false preachers who know nothing of Jesus yet would have you believe they know what He woud do. Do you really think Jesus would care about a budget? His kingdom is NOT of this world.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  19. Sirena

    Jesus would cut all social welfare spending... according to Jesus and the bible it is the church and family that is supposed to take care of the sick/old/unable to work....

    February 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • smar


      Does nobody understand that it is immoral to use the backing of the government to enslave your fellow citizens in service of your beliefs. The military was created to protect our freedom. The welfare state was created to enslave us, no matter how good-intentioned. If people care about poverty, nutrition, foreign aid,... then they care about poverty,nutrition, foreign aid. If they don't care, then they won't reach out. If they do, they will. You don't have a right to pick and choose which things we should all care about. There are infinite things to care about, and the things you happen to notice in your puny life, are no more valid than the things I notice in my puny life.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Underdog

      I'd like to see some Bible references for that opinion. And the problem with help from family, church, etc., is that they either can't or won't. I've worked at a church for over seven years and see the needy come in for help every day. We absolutely cannot help them all.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • A. Goodwin

      Sirena – Do the world a favor and discontinue speaking for Jeasus.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • tvmc

      Thanks Underdog.

      People seem to think that they have what they have because of their hard work and without any handouts. The fact is that every one of us received a handout at one point or another. Most don't realize it and are quick to stomp the hand of the people who fought for their rights/benefits (medicare, education, voting rights, and so on).

      February 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • smar

      TVMC. Aare you saying that anything that DOES exist SHOULD exist? That's a terrible philosophy of governance.

      I say our lives would have all been better without any systematicly usurped and mishandled "handouts". What are my options as a free person in your welfare state of lies? What are the options for our grandkids' grandkids' grandkids'?

      February 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Joel

      @underdog – read Mark 14:7 and context. That's one I can think of offhand. If you believe Jesus and the Bible, the poor will always exist, if for no other reason than people often make bad decisions that lead to minimal finances. People are needy for many reasons, but I think Jesus wanted us to help the poor primarily to to grow our character and as an expression of love, moreso than to help the poor achieve some sort of lasting socioeconomic status. Remember, if we have food and clothing we are to be thankful. There is no mention of even shelter, so I think Jesus' poor and ours in America have little in common. 1 Timothy 6:6-10

      February 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • tvmc

      SMAR – I'm not endorsing a welfare state nor a completely capitalist state. We live in a pluralistic economy – this means that there are socialist and capitalist practices. It allows the government to step in if it needs to. This has happened several times. It's not a bad thing. Capitalism can easily get carried away if unchecked. Without government intervention (i.e., our democracy), we would be living in a monarchy or some form of fascism. Blacks would still be slaves, women would not be able to vote, poor people would starve and so on. I think we could have a rational discussion if you didn't jump to the conclusion that I'm endorsing a welfare state.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  20. Joel

    This should be an easy answer for those who try to consider what Jesus would do in their daily lives. We look to his example of life lived under Roman rule in a non-free society. Jesus spoke very little about government, period. His priority was higher, considering only an individuals' salvation and their responsibilty to love God by, as INDIVIDUALS, loving their neighbor as theirselves. There was no government middleman. This is the hijacking progressives attempt. Make the government a god by appealing to our morals, which should be grounded in God, and asking us to pay taxes in order to achieve collective salvation and their vision of government. An amazing, twisted, but effective perversion.
    Based on His example, Jesus would cut nothing, he would tell you now what He already did. Take care of your family first, and the needy you come in contact with. Matthew 19:16-26 and Mark 14:7 and context.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • chris

      exactly, amen

      February 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • smar

      dead on.
      however, showing a progressive the truth is like trying to swat a fruit fly. No matter how true your aim, the fly will buzz right by your hand on it's torturous path toward a big pile of garbage.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • zman501

      Besides...we all know progressive christians are not the 'right kind' of christians. Luckily,if you stay away from poor neighborhoods, you can prevent ever coming in contact with them and not have to deal with them. Praise the lord, hallelujah!

      February 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • A. Goodwin

      Joel – That sounds all fine and dandy, but guess what – these programs were created because people really dont give a rats-@ss about other people. Even Christians! We're letting people starve in our country this vey moment and nobody is doing a darn thing about it. Mostly because you figure 95% of us are not the top income earners and only have enough to support our own family's. The only time anyone gives a cr@p about anyone else is during the Holiday's when pictures of Jeasus fill our world and we're reminded that we should be less petty. Otherwise, how well do you think soup kitchens (who saw a 90% increase in servcies in all states last years) fare during the other 11 months of the year? Fact is, we need our government to step in because nobody will. If there was a major effort for everyone to help thy neighbor – that would be fantastic. But there isn't. The GOP went for the juggler with these cuts – targeting education, health programs, and programs that keep America safe. What wasn't on the chopping block: tax breaks for corporations, tax breaks for big oil and money for national defense. Actually, defense is getting an INCREASE in funding. So glad we'll have all those abrams tanks, but it wont mean much when we have a society too dumb and unhealthy to become soldiers.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • tvmc

      Joel, in the kindest way possible let me suggest that government (or call it any other name) is a necessary function in a civil society. You may be suggesting "less" government intervention or "more efficient" government, but NO government is not realistic. Jesus did not tell the tax collectors to stop collecting taxes or that it was a sin, just to be fair. The Egyptians called their tax collectors scribes. Without government we would not have roads, military, public libraries, etc. that take care of the common folk.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Joel

      @TVMC – I agree that government is necessary in all societies, and taxes are a fundamental part of government being able to function. In the case of the US, to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit. In answering the question put forth, I was merely saying as important as government is, and the God-given freedom it has the power to take away when enamored with itself and corrupt men, it is not what Jesus was primarily concerned with in any way. He acknowledged it's existence rightfull and even went so far as to say that they are put in place and operate at the allowance of God. However, Jesus' exhortations were all aimed at persons, people, and individuals. The only organization other exhorted to provide for the needy was the church, period. He didn't say that if that is not enough, or people need more, or if the church fails according to some peoples expectations (which they often do), then a government should step in. He simply didn't address that, and charity he often did address was always in individuals inherent responsibility to choose, not be forced into. He could obviously force us all, but he gave us a choice. Why should our government expect more?

      February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Joel

      @ A. Goodwin – You're absolutely right. If those who professed to follow Christ gave as He did we would have little need for government to provide welfare. While I give generously as a personal choice, others do not and should not be forced to do so. I believe that as government has slowly taken over the charity business over the decades, people are less inclined to "give" because they can easily say it's already being forcibly taken from them, so "isn't there a program for that ?" Where will that end?
      Also, welfare spending has been growing exponentially for decades, and yet the poor seem to still be with us. Do you think the government can ever "help" them into a permanent middle class state, while still allowing them the freedom to make their own decision, regardless of the detriment to their finances? I can dictate personal choices to anyone that will improve their financial well-being, as I'm sure you could too, but we both can agree that's preposterous. Unfortunately, for some this is the only solution, and it is no solution at all.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
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.