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. nutmeat


    February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  2. John Stevens

    Of course one would expect many comments seeking to undermine this article by ignoring the message and attacking the messenger. This is typical of the personalizing of any reasonable discussion of important issues in our society. The point clearly is to raise the question of how, not only government policy, but personal priorities reflect our values. Those who profess to be followers of Christ and who frequently invoke their religion as justification for their stands on certain issues need to be called out when their actions run directly contrary to the values and teaching of Jesus. Let's not get into all of the attacks on religion, but ask ourselves what kind of "human" values these actions represent. Most reasonable people accept at least that Jesus raised serious questions about how people lives their lives, about their priorities and especially about how they treat other people. It seems that is the important message of the ad campaign. I question the real intent and values of those who seek to dodge this basic question.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • mypitts2

      Yep. It's also typical of what you get with anonymous comments on a website.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  3. steveo

    Personally I think Zeus would cut a lot more spending than Jesus. He always ruled with a stone fist.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Acaraho

      Zeus is a pseudonym for the leader of an alien race that interacted with the Greeks. Jesus was a real-life human being.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • joe

      If Jesus was alive, and the most important awesome miraculous person on the planet... how come there's not one painting, statue or sketch of him during that time? Nobody even mentioned him until more than 50 years later. Does anyone doubt Julius Caesar was alive?

      February 28, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Jim


      There is no doubt from the hsitorical record of the Romans that Jesus existed and was crucified under Pilate. As to the writings, the writings were there well before 50 years after the happenings, it is just the writings weren't coalesed until later. Jesus wasn't a empire builder or taker like Julius so it only makes sense that Julius would have more written about him during the first 50 years. The real question is "when is the earliest surviving manuscript about Julius dated to?"

      March 1, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  4. Greenspam

    Another BS article. Why didn't these conservative groups ask, "What would Jesus say to Obamacare plan where poor can now have healthcare?" I am pretty sure Jesus would be for it!

    February 28, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • D

      Uhh, that is exactly what the article is saying.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • mypitts2

      Yeah, this guy is coming from the compassionate side of the argument.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Joe

      God Jesus freekin a Christ you libs are stupid why not start bashing on Conservatives some more on a different subject? Why do you people think being Responsible is such a problem? Why is being A FISCAL Conservative such a problem for liberals...you know why, I'll tell you YOUR SPOILED.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jim

      Wallis and Sojourners are not conservatives by any stretch. No one calls this a conservative group except those who know nothing about the subject matter. Jeesh...another indicator of the need for education in the traditional sense – on how to think rationally.

      March 1, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  5. JonPeter Hartford, CT

    Thinking of the story of the loaves and fishes. One bushel of (money) would (feed) pay for 8, 12, 20... If it works fine, if not, maybe there's a message to stop looking for miracles and find practical solutions.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  6. BobH

    This is not about Jesus as God/Messiah. This is about Jesus as progressive reformer in a highly polarized, militaristic society. I think much of what he preached is both wise and relevant today.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • John Stevens

      For sure. You got it. A lot of people really don't want to hold their values up to these kind of standards. It reveals their selfishness and greed.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • mypitts2

      I agree with BobH and John Stevens.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  7. mrgmorgan56

    What an idiotic question.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  8. Bruce

    The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus this way many times, and they failed each time. Why would you ask such a question?

    February 28, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  9. Mattias

    Stop talking about Jesus Christ morons!!

    Jesus Christ is not a person to talk non-sense about... he's our saviour and God.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • joe

      He's a character taken from the Hara Krishna's. Nothing more... nothing less.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Steve the real one

      Hate to tell you but I will. Your message is confusing and was lost by one word..Morons! That is what anyone will remember! If you are going to represent Christ, please tone it down.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • KJM1968

      YOU may believe he is YOUR savior, not mine and don't speak for me thanks.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Joe

      In one breath the praise him in the next you use his name in Vain?! AHAHAH....you bible thumpers crack me up...You are sooooo....brainwashed it hurt ME..you don't think for yourselves, you hide behind Jesus God or whatever if things go wrong and if you actully succeed at something you can be proud of Jesus/God did it and not YOU...oh did Jesus/GOD go to school and do your homework did he or she or whatever pay your tuition or your bills or get you unemployed?

      February 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  10. Russ

    Are you freakin' serious? Who cares, especially since there was no Jesus in the sense that everyone refers. If he really existed, I'm sure he had no budget to deal with and therefore no experience with budgets. Maybe he would bake a few less loaves of bread or cut back on fishing expenses. Jeeeezzzz How stupid can you get.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Acaraho

      Surviving 40 days alone in the desert qualifies him to manage any budget.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • T3chsupport

      What? No it doesn't. It doesn't even qualify you for leading the party next time, because last time they spent 40 days wandering around in the desert.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • mypitts2

      There's no "if" as to whether he existed. He did. The information is out there if you care to do two minutes of research before spouting off. If you choose to doubt his divinity, knock yourself out. But there's no debate whatsoever whether he existed or not.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  11. Tom

    if every Americans give 100 dollars back to to the Fed could we have our US debt paid off? in 6 months?

    February 28, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Howard

      Let's see ... 300 million Americans times $100 apiece ... comes to $30 billion. And our national debt is in the trillions. This is a clear case for pushing more money into education ... with an emphasis on simple arithmetic.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Joe

      Give money back to the Fed...what are you stupid..

      February 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • MBB

      I wish, Tom. If every man woman and child in this country sent the governement a check for $33,000 than the debt would be paid off.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  12. Susan

    What would Jesus say? Ha! Give it all to Josh Osteen and his wife, the rich money loving spread the work preacher. He and his wife would love more money. It certainly won't go to solve a budget. They say money doesn't matter but they sure are living well on (What would Jesus do?)

    February 28, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Joe

      This whole hate the rich comes right from YOUR Jesus...nobody is allowed to be rich in this country without you freekin libs chiming in.

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

      Give your heart to Jesus and your money to me.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  13. Frank

    If Jesus was truly in charge, then there would be no budgets and for the people that always seem to ask which God, the answer is easy, it is the God of Abraham and Jesus.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • chris

      what about my god?

      February 28, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Frank

      @Chris - Your God does not count. There is only one God.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Joe

      I can't believe this drivel.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  14. God

    Maybe it's just me...but I think the whole spending LOTS of money to each other thing should be put on the back burner.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  15. Marty in MA

    Change that from Jesus to any rational American

    February 28, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  16. Sayres

    I know Jim Wallis, and I dare say most of you who are lobbing critiques at him have neither met him, or read any of his books or articles. I know his history in the civil rights movement. I know his work in WDC to fight for justice and decency for the poor and marginalized. I have prayed with him and heard the cry of his heart. Is he perfect, or without fault? of course not, neither are any of us. If you want to throw pot shots at someone, find any number of talking heads who sit around and complain about a myriad of problems, but who actually do nothing to try and find a solution. Jim Wallis is not in that camp.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Cuso

      I think Jesus would cut defense spending.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  17. Arsio

    Jesus wouldn't cut the budget but he would change this whole evil system that we live in where money has more value than human life.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • mypitts2

      I think so.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Jim


      Although Jesus might cut the budget in the end, He would be concentrating on the hearts and minds of the people long before working with any numbers... Amen!

      March 1, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  18. COLady

    Jesus would cut the budget by going after Wall Street for the money they stole from us, as well as the money we "loaned" them that we'll never see returned. Did not Jesus drive the money-changers from the temple?? Perhaps we should follow his lead!! We are going after the poor and middle class, while allowing the rich to get richer. Time to make things right!

    February 28, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Robert

      I agree with your comment.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Christian

      Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple because they were doing business IN the temple, not because they were doing business however wrong. The government has also made money off the Citi bailout. Jesus also said render to caesar what is caesars.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • mypitts2

      Agree with you on most points. They did return the money from the bailout loan, almost all of it. What will never return is the multiple billions in American wealth they lost in legalized gambling.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  19. joe

    I wonder what the Flying Spaghetti Monster would do with the budget?

    February 28, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Derek

      You're so edgy... and it's not even 2006 even more.... somehow you keep it fresh.

      February 28, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • hellotiki

      The FSM would first CUT THE CHEESE!. That's what FSM would do!

      February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • joe

      FSM is always fresh.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • mypitts2

      Naw, dissin religion is trite. The new way is to let believers and non-believers go their own way and do their own thing.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Jim

      always good to see little children trying to be "like" adults and throw around stupuidity in order to offend. too bad you only demonstrated that you are emotionally, spiritually and morally deficient.

      March 1, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • Sadie

      Maverick: o fi :DAlina: a fi cu ceilalti se deetdvsoe, in anumite momente ale vietii tale, a nu fi chiar un privilegiu si este foarte posibil sa nu ai ce darui sau ce impartasi

      March 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  20. Leonid Brezhnev

    Jesus was a mythical figure.

    February 28, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • John Wright

      Even Jesus would say he was for ObamaCare before he was against it! No ObamaCare! Wait until the fees and taxes and regulations kick in. We're doomed!

      February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Acaraho

      No, he is a historical figure. Do your research.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • mypitts2

      Yeah, to echo the point Jesus existed, he was no myth. You're free to doubt his divinity, but he was a person.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Thomas Jones

      Joseph Campbell was the expert. He said that the Christian religion was fiction. Myth. The Bible is literature not fact. Joseph Campbell felt bad about his conclusion even if it was correct since living in a fantasy world like he had done when growing up as a choirboy looking at such church beauty was magnificent.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Rumi

      Posted on I bileeve I heard the President say all people would be on Medicare. Oh, dear, Medicare is not free. Thats why on page 59 of the bill they want your bank account # so they can automatically charge your account every month. Our insurance companies, utilities companies, etc. have our account number. Our bills get paid automatically and directly from the bank to the companies every month. The only bills we get are the credit card bills. I have no problem with these companies having our account #, but I dont trust the Federal Government with it. Too many bureaucrats. The only Fed agency that has our # is Social Security so we can have direct deposit. So far, weve had no problems.

      March 2, 2012 at 12:48 am |
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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.