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. Ezra

    This is the time where we see real Christians come together to pray for our nation and for those in need. We should all ask Jesus to put his Holly word in our mouths to help those in need, because Jesus said that his truth and his word is the only thing we need. "No! For the Scriptures tell us that that bread won't feed men's souls: obedience to every word of God is what we need" Matthew 4:4. Instead of worrying so much about the government, let’s just concentrate in keeping our eyes in God and we will see the Glory of His name.

    With Love a Servant of the Lord

    February 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  2. mike kerns

    who pushed for the torture and murder jesus.(the money changers. Bibical banks)! Who carried out this crime?(the roman governer)! Why did they do this? There love. And greed of money. Flash forward to the present. Who do the banks support? So how can conservetives claim the mantle of jesus when in fact you are against him?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  3. Reality

    Follow the money trail when it comes to likes of Jim Wallis, Billy Graham, Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham, Eboo Patel et al.

    e.g. –

    "In July 2010, Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD magazine, wrote that Sojourners accepted money from George Soros, who has financed groups supporting abortion and atheism.[6] Jim Wallis responded as follows: "It's not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I'm sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don't receive money from Soros." Wallis later admitted that Sojourners had, in fact, accepted funds from Soros' Open Society Inst-itute. Wallis stated that the funds made up "the tiniest fraction of Sojourner's funding during that decade–so small that I hadn't remembered them."[6] The grants from the Open Society Insti-tute totaled $275,000 from 2004 to 2007.[7] Wallis apologized to Olasky for his comments about him. Jay Richards wrote that Sojourners had received $2.2 million from various foundation grants from 2003 to 2009, including the Tides Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Wallace Global Fund, and the Streisand Foundation."

    Maybe the Sojourners aka Jim Wallis will sponsor AIDs research with some of their funding? No donations to AIDs support listed on their IRS Form 990. But what do we find on the Sojourners aka Jim Wallis' IRS Form 990 (guidestar.org)?

    Jim Wallis is paid $351,140/yr which includes benefits and speaking honoraria for doing things like giving BO grief about AIDs funding. They/he also have/has ~$1 million invested in the stock and bond market. (A million dollars for AIDS support in Africa would be great.) Again Mr. Wallis/Sojourners pays no taxes on the dividends, interest or capital gains on these investments


    February 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  4. Stefan Stackhouse

    Jesus would almost certainly not answer the question directly. Instead, he would have probably told a parable, or maybe several. The point of each of these parables would probably be something along the lines of those trying to gain unjustly at other's expense eventually coming to a bad end. This would be a two-edged sword, cutting against both the rich and powerful gaming the system to their unjust profit, and also against the masses trying to use the system to soak the rich and obtain easy, unearned money for themselves. The unspoken conclusion would be that government should do what is necessary and proper and just for the well-being of the nation and everyone in it, without favoritism, and should be done without resort to a level of taxation that is unfair or excessively burdensome on any particular category of people.

    That, at least as I see it, is most in harmony with what we are told about Jesus in the Gospels.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  5. Greg

    This Jesus fellow sounds like a real loser. Why don't we follow someone who knows how to write? I'm sick of these second-hand accounts that don't match up.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  6. MandoZink

    Hey! Good Question. Now,
    What would Thor cut?
    What would Superman cut?
    What would Tinkerbell cut?
    What would my invisible friend cut?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  7. Steve the real one

    Who is using my name? Hey CNN, is there something we can do about this? My gay lover is complaining that I seem to be posting stuff that sounds wrong. I don't know how this could have happened.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Now weak and lame! What are you 12?

      February 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Steve the real one

    Jesus is going to burn in HELL EVERLASTING so don't ask him for anything! And don't ask for anything in his name, either. Nobody listens to that stuff anymore. Go ahead and ask a "Christian" for something in "Jesus' Name" and see just how far you get. Nowhere man.
    I don't feel well. Not like myself, anyway. Maybe I'm not the real one anymore. Damn.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Steve the real one


      February 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  9. c


    February 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  10. MikeB

    Which Jesus are we talking about – Jesus of Nazareth or Supply-Side Jesus?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  11. Weak Sauce

    "What would Jesus cut?"


    February 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • KC

      Jesus would cut war.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  12. John Calif

    I thought liberals were all over the separation of church and state. Asking this question is irrelevent. Get back to work FleeBaggers.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Minkakross

      I don't think you know what the word liberal means, this article addresses a group traditionally conservative trying to evoke the conscience of those proclaiming to be Christian conservatives.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • mike kerns

      Liberals our just calling you conservetives as the hypocrits you are

      February 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • john/kc

      If we had separation of church and state, churches would be paying taxes on their property like the rest of us. Why are they cut a special tax abatement when the homes we live in are not? There is really no separation. Churches pay the same property tax that the government pays, NOTHING!

      February 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  13. CW

    Jesus would destroy the church! Don't let him return! We don't want to die!

    February 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  14. Mike, not me

    I think Jesus is going to show us that he doesn't exist. When he does that, I will tear off all my clothes and run nekked to the nearest gay bar.
    It's okay, they know me there. 😉

    February 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Templar1

      Finally. something I can believe is true. Run!!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  15. Jon

    The cheek turning budget would definitely cut in order to give tax breaks to the stone throwers.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  16. Jorge

    He would cut nothing, promote nothing. he would probably repeat, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." He would also probably go postal again and beat politicians who pander to religious groups in His name, same way he beat the peddlers in the Holy Temple at Jerusalem.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  17. John Tipton

    I find it appalling that religion is even part of this. Religion has NO RIGHT to be a part of reality or politics. Leave it in the home where it belongs. Look at the problems and how to fix them without 'belief' altering the outcome. That way leads to madness.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • louise jackson

      leave religion out... are you nuts. That's the reason american is in this mess. If we'd address the "sin issue" in our country, that would eliminate most of our financial/moral woes.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  18. Rob

    Now there is a difference between actually speaking for God and having an opinion and claiming that God agrees with your opinion. I see here that the Christian left is just as outrageous as the Christian right in using God as a form of political cover for their opinions. Now methinks this is all presumption, but what do I know.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Ralph Abernathy

      So Rob, based on what Jesus says about the wealthy and the poor in the New Testament, I don't see how you can disagree with them. Jesus was a communist, socialist, and a radical. I'd say these guys are pretty moderate in comparison to what the Jesus of the bible would actually do in this situation. Maybe you don't know this, or do you have a different interpretation of his teachings on wealth and politics? I'd say it would take a lot of cherry picking to say these men are just blindly asserting they speak for Jesus, even if they are. Their message happens to be pretty similar however.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  19. Rob

    There is a difference between speaking for God and having an opinion and claiming that God agrees with your opinion.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      God ALWAYS agrees with me.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Greg Gilbert

    Jesus wouldn't demand money from the barrel of a gun to fund any charities. Even during Jesus times the corrupt leaders took money from the people with false promises of it helping the population. The question of how much it helps is always a more complicated question that would elude many people that put too much seriousness into this question.

    February 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Minkakross

      I'm guessing you have no idea what ancient taxes were spent on if you think they had social programs for the poor in Jesus times.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Greg Gilbert

      Minka: I never fell for the right when they used Jesus for political gain, so I certainly am not going to jump onboard when liberals do it. I believe the money was mostly used for the Army which help support the empire which kept commerce going, people fed, & of course leaders in power. I don't recall Jesus getting involved in government and telling people what to do.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
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