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. Rabel Fibal

    So basically the liberals are saying, don't work and let the rich pay, for me to be a coveting slacker?
    "I want what he has"! Gee, you mean people work for that big house and car, and stuff?

    So if I don't work, I am entilted to healthcare and free money...wow, I think I will become a dope smoking, blame america first, god hating slacker...!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • JustHuman51

      You are an idiot! No one says give it all away. I make a lot and I DON'T give it all away, and yeah I work my butt off too. But YOU open YOUR eyes! Look what's happening across the Arab world. You think it can't happen here? A two-class society will absolutely prove you wrong. Think the French Revolution. Oh and by the way, when taking life's final breaths, no amount of wealth will save you, me or Bernie Madoff. What will you do between now and then to make a difference in the world? One last thought....in life you will get what you give away...

      February 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  2. UH60L

    Well, jesus would do exactly what every other fictional man made character would do, nothing.

    It's 2011 people, snap out of it!

    February 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • JustHuman51

      So was Buddha real, or Mohammed, what about Moses? Maybe you believe in L. Ron Hubbard? Seriously, I'm not dissing you. But even if J.C. is not the Son of God, many (not all) of the writings in the New Testament provide instructions for a life that's not a bad way to live with each other (anything negative about gays, which I'm not, don't sit well with me at all). Me, I'm a confirmed Christian who's exploring Judaism and Buddhism too. Like you, I don't think there is one universal truth...I think that The Source is something that defies the limitations imposed by each of the religious dogmas.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  3. Bill

    If you ever read the Bible you would realize Jesus wouldn't have anything to do with money or the budget. Duh!

    February 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  4. Matthew Avila

    Jesus would CUT all government funding for Planned Parenthood and he would overturn Roe V. Wade.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  5. saganhill

    How would who do what? Give me a break here. Why even ask such a rhetorical question? He's been dead 2000 years. A better question with some better insight might ask, how would Elvis balance the budget.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  6. Matthew Avila

    Jesus would call all government funding for Planned Parenthood and he would overturn Roe v. Wade.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • saganhill

      Based on what? There is nothing in the bible that mentions abortion or a system for educating people in *(se(x. I glad the guy is dead and its just to bad people worship him like a god. No such things as gods or demons or supernatural. Get over it.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Rabel Fibal

      Yeah Matthew, good one. Jesus wasn't into baby killing like the liberals want. No funding the slaughter houses.

      Rather, "Snip and Tie Let the Gene Pool Die" clause. Any man found to be the other parent gets snipped or tied, whatever...No more baby making for da players!

      February 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      How ironic!

      Of COURSE Jesus was into killing children.

      In his manifestation in the old testament he was responsible for THOUSANDS or children’s deaths.

      If the Holy Trinity is accurate, Jesus is guilty of war crimes all throughout the old testament.

      SO, it’s clear, either the Trinity is bubkus, or Jesus kills children

      March 1, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • Aarrgghh

      Thats right Rabel... nowhere in any of "his" books did he or his father call for the murder of all the male babies, or anything like that.... Hypocrite

      March 1, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  7. Michael

    As a real Christian, I know the answer from the Bible: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's; Give to God what is God's". Caesar was a great military leader and thus Jesus was saying that Government spending for defense was moral whereas any charity should be done individually and not from the government. The answer is clear; its in the Bible. These people should read it someday.

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

      My uncle who has read the Bible in several languages (most of which haven't been spoken or read in centuries) disagrees with your interpretation.

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

      Wow. You totally got the message wrong. Jesus was asked whether it was moral to pay taxes to Rome, Romans being conquerors of Jeureselem at the time. They wanted Jesus to say it was immoral so they could get him in trouble and imprison him. Instead, he said give to Ceaser what is Ceaser. It had nothing to do with defense spending. I bet your Jesus also praises wealth, calls poor people lazy, and is all for killing people.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • saganhill

      Aside from jesus being dead, isnt Ceaser dead also? Taking a book thats 2000 years old literaly is the most absurd idea ever to be put upon the world.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Jim


      Jesus' response had nothing to do with defense spending, the contexts make your interpretation way off base and shows your bias, not what His response really spoke to.

      March 1, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Aarrgghh

      The book says that because it was written in ROME by ROMANS, not in Iraq, by Jesus. where he supposedly lived, a full 200 years before the first book about him was written to keep ROMANS in moral check and paying taxes.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  8. Scott

    Fairness and not owing to anyone. It wasn't the tax collector he fould offensive, it was his taking MORE than what was due. It was the churches responsibility to watch out for widows and orphans. Not for the government to extort from the people and do it themselves – with THEIR CUT.
    He didn't expect from anyone, but to contribute to society. You need to work for your labors. Too many "able" bodies are not contributing as they can and should.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Yes, I'm quite sure Jesus would hew close to the Glenn Beck and Tea Bagger talking points. Wait – maybe Glenn Beck IS Jesus!!! Has anyone ever seen both of them in the same place at the same time???

      February 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Rabel Fibal

      You nailed it man...
      Sowing and reaping. Liberals are coveters who use their sanctimony on God fearing people...I still think a day of rest would save money without cutting everything.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Aarrgghh

      Actually, my illustrious whackjob, "Liberals" do not use god for much of anything. Not getting between a doctor and a pregnancy, or forcing science and history books to be erased, or whole groups of people murdered across the globe. Nope that is not Liberals at all..

      March 1, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  9. Mike

    Who cares what Jesus would cut?

    He was a bum who never worked. He lived on the charity of others, constantly mooching of his followers, and constantly criticizing the rich. Can you say CLASS WARFARE. He was also a hippie wuzz. "Turn the other cheek". BS

    February 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Joe

      Jesus was the Original Liberal democrat bum.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Scott

      Maybe if you spent more time reading the bible instead of assuming you'd know better. He was a carpenter by trade and worked. He didn't "expect" any man to take care of him. A good philosophy to live by.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Jim

      wow mike, your ignorance is astounding...

      March 1, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Aarrgghh

      No more astounding than the ignorance of centuries of people who believe this nonsense.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  10. Joe

    Dude this is some good stuff-chokes and coughs smoke-Wohhooo is that Jesus...were not worthy, were not worthy! Nawh dude that's you dad..

    February 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  11. Scott

    That is without question the stupidest news article I have read the month.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  12. Alientech

    Hmm...since Jesus said “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” in response to the question of whether taxes to Rome should be paid, we should be paying whatever the government wants us to pay and not complain. Or at least Christians should.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  13. Demand truth and verify what u get

    Jesus was a scuzzball who did no work, had no job, and lied his way through the bible.
    We should nail him to another damn tree for what his followers have done over the centuries.
    Or maybe we should just nail all the damn so-called christians to the nearest telephone pole and put up signs that say "traitor to the USA".
    They would probably enjoy it. Let's invite them onward. Forcibly. Oh, wait, we can't do that. Nevermind.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Jim

      demand truth? what a great example of doublspeak....

      March 1, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  14. Rabel Fibal

    The answer to these political dramas and bickering is shut all shopping down one day, yeah, that means no working too...

    No Walmart, liquor stores, no car sales, no traveling, no flights, no ebay or craiglisteing, no movies, no ball games, no texting, no hair and nails, botoxing, breast implants, tattoos, no gas, no eating out...for one day collectively.
    180million working people resting one day= savings and good health!!
    How can we save? by resting one day.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Nonimus

      How does this solve anything?
      If everyone worked on Sunday, a 6 day work week, the GDP would increase proportionally.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  15. RowJimmy

    Now Liberals/Progressives are supposed to know what Jesus would do. That's a good one coming from a bunch of cross dressing atheist sodomites!

    February 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Joe

      Nooo...tell us how you really feel.

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

      The Christian ministers in my family would try very hard not be offended by your implication. They are Christians who believe that Jesus' words about "do unto others" and "the least of my brothers" are among the most important lessons the Bible has to offer. In spite of what the religious right tries to claim, there are plenty of liberal Christians who don't agree with them.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Jesus was a liberal progressive. I'm sorry you feel Jesus was a cross dressing liberal sodomite.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Jon

      You're right Jimmy, but they don't get it. We shall see what happens to these feckless, crooked politicans when it's all been said and done. My money says they'll regret it through eternity.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Yeah – heathen cross dressing sodo.mites like J. Edgar Hoover have no place in government.
      And I don't know about other atheists, but I only wear women's clothing on weekends. And of course, the day that I rejected Christianity, my se.xual orientation changed. It might have been becuase my neighbour was gay. I hear it's an airborne virus!

      February 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Jerry Fall Well

      How did you know I was a cross-dressing sodomite?...Oh Wait! I saw you in the dressing room! Nice shoes, BTW.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  16. Julie

    I could just scream everytime I see a sentence beginning with the words "What would Jese...?"
    Based on the NT – Jesus would tell everyone to give all their money to whoever wants it and to worry about our souls instead of our pocketbbooks. He would have no interest in national budgets.
    Having said that, there are certainly very important issues of secular morality – which reflects the condition of our souls involved in budget cutting . There are also harsh realities.
    Military budgets? Yes. They need to be cut and distribution patterns rethought. If people lose jobs making war matierials, tough. It's stupid to bild stuff we don't need just to keep people employed. Let 'em build something we DO need. Like solar panels, recycling plants or mass transit systems.
    Mosquito netting? A drop in the bucket surely – but why can't we teach those in malarial nations to weave their own?
    WIC? It's a good program, worth funding. But do we really need to interminably prop up those who enter into parenthood with the idea that WIC will take care of them? Perhaps carte blacnshe reproductive rights need to be rethought as well. One kid on welfare – the second one comes with vasectomies and tubal ligation. Both reversible.
    School programs? Yes, very important – they need expansion. People who send their kids to private schools are perhaps not the best ones to touch this issue.
    Health care? Abuse and inequalities are rampant. It'll come to rationing. Has to. I know people who get blood work done over and over and over – not for any blood issues mind you – just – well really for the heck of it. While others who are middle-aged and feeling sick have to fight like dogs to get one test for just a baseline. How about the millions of $$ spent keeping comatose and vegetative people alive while others have trouble getting basic care?
    How many millions are on governement disability who can see, hear, talk, think normally, DRIVE, shop, go on vacation, hunting trips – everything in short except work? I can tick a half dozen off without even tring. Did you know that people on methadone programs are all eligible for SSI and that the programs are more motivated to keep people for years than to get them off the drugs?
    What about all those earmarks for teapot museums and cranberry blight research? Maybe the teapot lovers and cranberry farmers and product makers should pay for that stuff. What about all the subsidies that go to farmers and ranchers – who then have some of the biggest mouths about cutting OTHER people off.

    This is an infuriating topic and one that demands we all use our heads and that everyone scale back some. I suppose if we're so feeble-minded that we must preface the discussion with "What would Jesus...?" in order to do anything right then we must. But it doesn't bode well for alot of injustive and abuse of our national financial resources to go on as per usual.
    I think Jesus would slap us all upside our heads.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Eumir

      Please kill yourself.

      March 1, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  17. John 3:16

    Jesus would recoil from a system where wealth was transferred at gunpoint. The end doesn't justify the means. Jesus would not rob his brother in order to purchase a mosquito net, nor would he steal a mosquito net and give it to the needy.
    Using stolen property will send the thief to hell no matter who benefits from it.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Mike

      It's not stolen. I don't support all the billions spent on military spending. I wouldn't call it stealing. We live in a republic. The people vote for their representatives and for the most part, majority rules. Those are the rules. Funny how conservatives don't believe gov't should enforce Jesus's message of charity, but SHOULD enforce their religious beliefs on abortion and gays.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Chris R

      I guess you missed the part of rendering unto caesar that which is caesars. You have actually read the bible, right?

      February 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Aarrgghh

      Hey john, that is what the people we are asking to contribute something have been doing for my entire life.... no one is stealing anything from them. If you would like to see stealing, have your rich friends continue the class warfare they have been waging for over 3 1/2, decades and counting. Even Henry Ford knew that you pay your employees enough to buy your crap, or both of you go down. And btw, 2/3 of all corporations paid less tax last year than you did on the last cup of coffee you bought.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  18. Separation

    I thought our government was set up to be separate from the church?

    February 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Rico Rossi

      I think the correct term is separation "of" not "from." Many of the founding fathers had strong Christian beliefs but did not want a situation like England with the "Church of England having governmental power.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Aarrgghh

      It is, and our media was set up with "free speech" which allows them to pontificate questions like this one

      March 1, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Aarrgghh

      Our Founding Fathers Themselves disagree with that statement...
      Thomas Jefferson~
      "Christianity...(has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on
      man...Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the
      teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and imposters led by Paul, the
      first great corruptor of the teachings of Jesus."
      There is more here: http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/founding-fathers-xtianity.html

      March 1, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  19. Mike

    Jesus could care less about what governments do. He was about personal responsibility and sacrifice. Politicians donating other people's money doesn't win favor for either the pol or the taxpayer. People should reach out and take care of people, not governments.

    February 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Rico Rossi

      Mike – exactly what the Gospels say.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Rico Rossi

      Mike – I think you replied to my earlier post. My intent was that Jesus said to "us" to feed the poor, take care of children and widows. He did not want us abdicate responsibility to others. Thanks.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Aarrgghh

      Jesus NEVER said anything to us (or anyone else for that matter) the first account of him was written around 200 ad, in another country. Do you think you could write about a person who lived far away, 200 years previous to you, without any written data about said person, and get the story accurate. Let alone claim the words within your story were "his". Do you not see the nonsense of this?

      March 1, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  20. Chris

    Didnt he get mad at the money handlers and start throwing tables

    February 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Wasn't that in the Temple? What's your point?

      February 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Steve Jobs

      He would do well as CEO of Microsoft then.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
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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.