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. mike kerns

    conservatives have never been truely concerned about the meek or less fortunate. Unless there is profit in doing so. And war is where money can be made.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Lucy

      Sorry Mike, but you're dead wrong. Conservatives are among the most generous. We don't depend on the government but give ourselves. We care plenty about the less fortunate. Why do you think most charity groups are Christian? There is just another (better!) way!

      February 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • poolin

      Lucy, you are a blatant liar. The most UNgenerous people I have ever met are all "Conservatives". They view giving money to ANYONE as "giving liberally" and so they are flat-out against it.
      Conservatives hate people who do not give them money and hate giving money to anyone else. That's why they are called "conservatives". They are stingy beyond belief. You can't count on them for anything. They are the most narrow-minded people in politics and are known for refusing EVERYTHING that might help other people.
      Selfish unto death – that's what conservatives are. Selfish ass-holes.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  2. JiminNM

    I believe he would cut all charity from the budget because everyone is individually responsible for helping themselves and others and is not suppose to steal from others in the name of charity when it's really just for votes. The heart is wicked and deceptive.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  3. Gerry Cabalo

    First of all, Jesus would not have to cut anything because He would not get in debt. The wisdom of the inspired Word has this to say:
    "The borrower is the slave of the lender." He came to set men free from slavery. Again, "owe no one anything exept to love each other."

    February 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • HFM

      So does your posting imply that you don't have a mortgage nor car loan? If you do, well, your posting seems a bit.....hypocritical..

      February 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  4. redisgreat

    Who cares? He is dead. Why are we not asking what would Congress do? Oh wait, I get it, Jesus would still have a better chance. Ok, ok.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  5. Dredd

    Strange that Bible thumpers think that the government should take care of the poor when the Bible says ditectly that it is the resposability of christians to do it. Coulda swore that is exactly what Jesus said when he was asked "what must I do to be saved" His reply was love the lord god with all your heart sould and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds concrete to me, he did not say make sure the government supports the poor he said you do it.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Lucy

      Agree. These particular Christians of this article are part of the apostasy and social gospel ilk. They are goats in sheep's clothing, and although it sounds all pious and generous, it is not biblical.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  6. Lucy

    Jesus would have families take care of each other, then the church, then the community, NOT THE GOVERNMENT!

    February 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  7. Chuck

    Jesus Is arguable one of the greatest Liberals is history. If he were alive today. He would be crucified by the right wing for his liberal views. If he was given a voice. He would tax the richat a much higher rate, cut the defense budget, Cut Israel’s welfare check. He would require congress to share the same health package as the poorest American. Congress cost of living wage increase would be tied to the minimum wage. So they could not raise one without raising the other.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • waterman

      Well said, Chuck. Every Republican policy is aimed at helping the top 1%, and hurting the poor and middle class. Exactly opposite of Jesus.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • W247

      Jesus would not force charity. Forced and coerced charity is no charity at all.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  8. Sammy Z

    Jesus would cut the War Budget.

    When you're spending almost a full third of everything you spend on maintaining our Global Empire, you know your "Defense Spending" is completely out of control.

    As a Combat Vet I plus many of my "Battles" are willing to take a pay cut because we know the true value of sacrifice and love our country.

    People need to stop the lie. Defense Spending, Social Security and Medicare should be the first places we should be looking to cut; not the last. In my opinion, Education should be the last place we cut.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  9. deepchills

    Religion isn't a leap of faith, it's high functioning autism.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  10. AardvarkEatsAnts

    What would RUSH do?

    February 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  11. waterman

    Kudos to the group. One of the few times you will see religious leaders do something good.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  12. HFM

    Reciting dogma won't balance the budget nor reduce the unemployment rate nor end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...nor will reciting dogma end world hunger and disease....courageous thoughts and actions might have a much better chance. It always amazes me to read the arrogant blather of those who allegedly 'know' what some deity is thinking or what opinions said deity holds.....how did these pompous clowns acquire this 'insider knowledge?" On HDTV? Or by being brainwashed by some charlatan evangelist who, in exchange for the last molecules of that person's feeble brain, as well as $29.95 for some silly book or 'blessed prayer cloth' (plus $5.95 S & H – sorry, but JC does not accept American Express), somehow convinced the aforementioned fool to believe some nonsense as espoused by some self appointed religious figure....pretty pathetic.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  13. Jesus

    What happened to separation between church and state?

    February 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • c

      It's separation of church and state. Not elimination of church from state.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Zur

      Apparently that principle has been abandoned by both the Left and the Right.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Alientech

      Separation of church and state only applies when the Right want to mix the two. When the Left does it, it's progressive.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  14. c

    This question is pointless. God gave you free will, use it for petes sake. You do not know what Jesus would do. Some days he had a temper and tore apart temples and some days he invited the worst of the worst out of trees to have a meal. This type of article brings out the ugliest of uglies and this site is starting to disappoint the tar out of me

    February 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  15. Rabel Fibal

    Lets take a vote...Do you think one day a week of no buying or selling and resting from work would save people money and health? Yes or No?

    I say shut it down once a week, and force people to save and not force people to spend taxes on healthcare and big goverment.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  16. Jackie

    Jesus would absolutely not cut anything from the poor especially Healthcare. He would be appalled at what these Republicans are trying to do. They are a party 'by the rich, for the rich', and should be ashamed of themselves.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Alientech

      Then the Republicans must be your party since you, living in this country are by the world standards very rich.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • c

      "If a man can work and chooses not to, he should not eat"

      February 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Panda1895


      There are more people than there are jobs. What about the people that can work, and choose to, but can't find a job to feed themselves and their families? Should we let them starve?

      February 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • c

      Panda, you totally missed my point

      March 1, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  17. ray

    I guess I missed the part about Jesus being a "Merican." Makes it obvious what the right wing agenda really is...let's go back to when the world was good, like under the Roman Empire. Stupid way to frame up a very serious issue. Just polarizing, not practical. Better to ask what is our contract with the people who are citizens have been promised, not just by just this year's crop of newly elected opportunists, but by politicians since Eisenhower. People have built their lives on those promises and many have emigrated here based on that dream and that promise. We may have to rejigger our priorities, like not being policeman to the world or by stopping subsidizing certain industries, but this is no time to turn our back to heritage, just because we are feeling our political might. I was taught the best way to insure my rights was to fight for yours. This is a lesson that Jesus would approve and one that the right has never learned, especially the new right. For them, the phrase "it is all about me" could not be truer. And, the me they are speaking of is white, male, and middle aged. I would suggest they look at their ranks and decide if they really represent the values of Jesus, or just some twisted jingoism of our day.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  18. Dan

    Jesus would take all of the profits made by greedy politicians, corporations, and rich people, and give it all to the poor.
    He would ask them, why do you worship money? you should worship God.

    Seems as though Republicans are masquerading as Christians, and using them as sheep by hijacking their religion, when it is the Democrats who are trying to reintroduce true social justice.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Zur

      Which god are we supposed to worship. I am guessing the Zombie god is the one you want us to worship. What would Vesta do?

      February 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  19. widget

    Might as well call it "What would Mickey Mouse cut?". Probably what ever the people who made it up wanted. If this headline was in the comments section, people would be calling it a troll.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Rakesh

      I haven't whtaced Supernatural for so long that I have forgotten what happened in Season 2. I may have to watch that season again. Psych and Supernatural are the only two TV shows that I must have on dvd. Oh, and the Simpsons.

      March 2, 2012 at 3:15 am |
  20. darkstar

    Jesus wouldn't do anything to cut the budget because invisible magical zombies simply do not exist in the world of reality. Please grow up.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • g

      pee-pee on U

      February 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • c

      Dear Darkstar, how did the first particle get here that made the big bang?

      February 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Giant1

      C: Hmmm. I don't know. So it must have been Jesus!

      February 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • no se

      c – you seek scientific knowledge in a blog? Did someone cut your education dollars or what?

      Particles were formed AFTER the big bang from quarks condensing out of the superhot plasma stuff. Particles are made from quarks.
      Too bad your god, bible, and jesus are complete bullshlt. It would be nice to have someone like that you could count on.

      Now try and pray away my words! Pray to your fake god! Tell him of everything because he's too stupid to know these things without your prayers! Tell him to do things and see nothing happen!
      Gullible fool. Did you think everything handed to you is honest truth? Your bible is a lie. You worship your bible and think it means you are saved from some nonsensical guilt trip.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • ASSASSINews

      Dead C, that's not an argument. Lack of knowledge does not require a default. "Unknown" is a perfectly legitimate answer to any complex question. No one has the right to answer complex questions with non-evidential simplicity.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • c

      Okay, I am not a scientist. But, no one can fully explain the existence of humankind that I can find. That being said, the deeper my faith the more at peace I become. So, I am fine with believing, even if it turns out not to be true. I just see such anger and hatred toward believers on here. I mean more so than any religious nut, maybe with the exception of that guy praying to off certain people.
      It's sad and disturbing.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:01 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.