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. JonathanL

    The main problems I have are how we spend about 4 times on welfare than we do on education, and double that on the war machine. A large percentage of welfare recipients spend their money on alcohol and drugs, probably because they were not exposed to a decent education. Pay down the debt – we spend 200$ billion a year on interest on the debt (more than we spend on education). Maybe we could greatly reduce the nearly 1 trillion we spend on the war machine if we spent $25 billion on making friends and establishing peaceful relationships. No matter who says what, you have to look at doing it in a practical and reasonable way. Let's establish our priorities. I think taxpayers should be allowed to personally allocate 3 to 5% or more of their taxes on what they believe would be the highest priority(ies). I would feel much better if I had a say in how the money was spent, and I bet the rest of the counrty would too. You could also select to default to the propsed budget. I would pick healthcare and education – pay down the debt.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  2. Centaur

    Speaker Boehner, how "moral" is it to insist that millionaires and billionaires should get a tax cut (which increases the deficit btw), yet you insist we can't afford programs to help the needy?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  3. Tim

    Jesus was killed because of politics. He preached of loving god and neighbor. He threatened the establishment of the Jewish politicians. You know the ones that proclaimed how much they donated to the Synagogue while standing next to the poor woman who donated all her pennies. Who did Jesus say would get into heaven? The Roman politicians were smart enough to 'wash their hands of it'. They could find no Roman law that was broken that would sentence Jesus to death. They let the religious right wing Pharisees condemn him to death. They whipped up the crowd to release a thief and condemn Jesus. Still works.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Zur

      Heaven is a myth.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Tom

    I think Jesus would cut bombs and give the money to the poor. But that's just my opinion, and why I won't vote republican.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  5. carol fields

    I wonder why this question is even asked. Never in my recollection have I seen such involvement of Jesus in our government. What ever happened to the seperation of religion and politics?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Zur

      Totally agree.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • rker321

      It's gone!!!!!!!. We complain about the muslim fundamentalists, and we have created here the Christians fundamentalists, In my book, cannot differentiate between them.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  6. Tharms

    Once you eliminate the coveting (the welfare state AND corporate welfare), the stealing (taxation) and the killing (foreign wars of interventionism), how much more is there left for a government to do? Seems to me that if this really was a "Christian Nation" there would hardly be any need for a budget at all.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  7. james hotz

    Jesus probably would knock over the money tables a long time ago, and cast all the crooked politicians in to hell.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  8. Reid

    How we have all forgotten- Jesus got very upset at the Money Changers in front of Jerueselum. There has to be governments and leaders, the Bible says so, but this coruptness of our world will soon be dealt with. Much as it was in Noah's Day will it be before HIS return!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  9. angel

    I think involving God in governmental issues are just another way to show mankind ignorance ..first of all I do not believe in governments, its just a cover up word for mankind playing to be God.yes American was the active and cooperative, helpful country in the world till about a few decades ago were it totally turned into a socialist, ambitious, poorly Handled, unstable ,full of governmental errors country.
    This country spends more money on a mistaken never ending war,and between the Money spent in the war and army,they can cover-up the full one year budget of the country basically spending us American peoples money in a war that let's face most of us Americans were not ok with.meanwhile millions homeless, starving,and healthcare not looking as promising as it use to.not fair at all.in this country there are alot of more and bigger priorities (helping the needed one's) than investing in war and millitary .am not religious tho my famaily claim to be Catholic, don't believe in religions neither, but decently a true believer and follower of God,might not be perfect sorry if I offended anybody not my intentions just personal believes.
    Asking whatgod will do in a situation like this ,is defently WRONG, first of all God and money do no relate at all,if it was for God money wont exist 2.I don't mix the LORD with politics and government issues because lets face it the government plays the game of been God ,trying to control,manipulate,and utilize people in those counties for their own benefits, oppressing peaople and peoples lifestyle so people can only be dependible of that government .please respect this post and my personal opinions.
    Think about it,,, Gods main creation was us mankind,god made each of us unique,made this world to be full of love and peace,gave us the gift of life ,and he even said hes the creator of life and the one that can take it away....
    So...we deserve to pay the consequences of anothe person. ?do we deserve to pay the price of a war we didn't want,,do all those fallen soldiers deserve to die in a war that could have been avoided? Were those thousands of life that perished. In the twin towers attack deserve it while the president went fishing??does this Country deserve to be in economical ,health,education ,and lifestyle crisis when us American people haven't done anything to be in this position,we are all paying the consequences of a government climate change.not fair. This country has alot of good admirable things but alot of bad ones too.The word government comes since the time of Jesus christ at that time it was the Romans and what the do?crucified Jesus..
    Am a sinner like everyone in this world am aware of that and we all should be ..alot of bigger and more affective changes are coming an not only to us American but to the whole world.there's alot of. Shine the curtains changes going on world wide and most of this have to do with all governments from every country. Alot of sneaky movements between governments a whole lot of back and forth between governments and alot of political discussion's worldwide that might just put us all in the edge of self destruction or another world war God forbids,its all in the Bible. All we can do is right from wrong,look for peace between use,help each other,wish other the best, try to clean our souls and lifestyle, not pay attention to the world's negativities, care for our family and children,love life which is our most precious gift from God,love God himself for he created us, wait on his coming its gonna be soon, repent, and remember we are always been tempted by the devil,do what's right to God, do not follow any government, priest,popes,or idols.just follow the word of God (Bible) and try to live life as God asks us to till he comes.
    Once again sorry if anyone was offended by any how. Just respect my opinions. Please
    Next time God's name is brought up in topics like this..please don't be so ignorant and compare him ,or question urself about God.
    He's the Almighty one and only king, our saviour, our Creator, and to whom we owe everything,to whim we shall love and obey, and for who we shall wait, God is sacred holy, he is father son and Holy spirit so please don't bring him into ignorant conversations like this.God bless us lets pray for better days. Peace

    February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  10. buttdonger

    What is more important: pointless wars that do not benefit us at all, or a healthy educated populace ?

    February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  11. Byrd

    Ah, struggling with the irreconcilable republican/conservative/fundamentalist dichotomy. Well good luck with that one. You might want to start with some simple association things and sayings like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the blind leading the blind, we had to destroy the village to save it,..you know, things like that.

    The Jesus of story and myth wouldn't consort with any of these so-called Christians of today, but would get his work done in its proper time. The only things I know he would feel toward these Christians of today are revulsion and pity.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Zur

      Zombie Lord is mad!!!

      February 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  12. 2tired2care

    JC would at least make the rich pay more to help the greater good of the country.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  13. Buns Mccallister

    I am a priest. I would cut your balls off. Without balls humans are much calmer.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • rker321

      Oh I agree!!!!!! but I am a female. LOL

      February 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  14. Josh

    Jesus already answered this question:

    “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (“Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ”)

    The national debt would be Caesar's problem, not God's or Jesus's.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  15. Scientist from IL

    I could care less what Jesus would cut!!!!! Are you kidding me??? I only care what our ELECTED officials are cutting!!! Like 18% of the Offices of Science budget. And what does that budget cover: Renewable energies, Experimental fuels, and solar and wind power research!!!! People may think that new technology grows out of the ground or in someone's garage, but the reality is that it does not!!! I may not believe in man made climate change, but I do believe that we are going to run out of oil in the next century and while some would enjoy profiting off this, I would like to create something to replace it!!! Unfort., this COST MONEY!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Randy

      It's an attempt to shame those claiming a Christian perspective with the actual words of the teachings they claim to revere.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Zur

      I agree, let's leave religion out of this.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  16. Tad Wesley

    I think Jesus believed in individual charity and generosity, but he's notably mum on having government do it.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • TheMovieFan

      But give to Caesar what is Caesar's.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • rker321

      Your response qualifies as a rotund AMAZING !!!!!

      February 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  17. Mojoblack

    no offence, god has no place in polotics..... never has never will, and anyone telling you different is selling something.........

    February 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Andréa

      But there are political implications to the Gospel....

      February 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  18. Bob in Pa

    There was a fire in a Hotel nearby the other day. I went by to check it out as all gacwkers do.
    I was surprised to see not one official government official there other than the Police. There were volunteer Firefighters, a private ambulance service, and low and behold, the Salvation Army. The government nevers gives temporary shelter and clothing to those in need, but private charity does.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Randy

      Nice to know your one anecdotal point can be applied universally.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  19. Antonio Velasquez Jr.

    JESUS cuts everything righteously.where there is no real problem,HE cuts nothing at all.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  20. Haz

    Jesus would not be involved. He would wonder why people need the government to do these things instead of the church and others doing it freely.
    I am a conservative republican.. often conservative republicans are viewed as greedy, selfish and rich.
    I give freely through my church and charities. but somehow the people that want to forcibly take my money and give it to others are considered to be more loving, caring, compasionate and giving.
    While i agree there should be a safety net, but tax payers should be the LAST place one goes for assistance. Not the first. Family, community, charities, church, etc. should be first and then and only then, the taxpayers.

    February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Randy

      People DO go to those sources first. The problem is those sources lack anything resembling the resources needed to confront the problems involved.

      And Jesus WAS involved: render unto Caesar what is Caesar's...i.e., PAY YOUR TAXES.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • rker321

      What would Jesus cut, it really gives you pause, How come all of those Congressmen and elected politicians, don't think about cutting their salaries across the board by about 15% ? Is that a draconian cut? But it's so easy for them to cut programs for the most vulnerable.
      Of course we have heard it before, these people are the laziest, the ones that don't even look for work, the ones that think that they have to be handed everything. Why should we care about them?
      In my book, this way of thinking is just an excuse. Yes, there are many that abuse the system, but instead of cutting they should close the loopholes, and really help the needy.
      We call ourselves Christians, but we have started a war based on the haves vs the have nots.
      Unfortunately the private charities in any country in the world never receive enough funds to help the most vulnerable in their
      We should start thinking about that, before we make our country look like all of those around the world, in which hunger, and poverty seem to the the law of the land.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Nice idea but government programs were set up because those organizations have never, ever been enough to help people.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:00 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.