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. driving

    Brayn' you have lost your mind""""""

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

    Interesting that Judas sold Jesus for 30 piece of silver in order to help "the poor" and was angry at Jesus for allowing a women to waste expensive perfume on his feet when it could have been used for "the poor". Let's hear from this group, is giving the governement money for "the poor" more like allowing Judas or Jesus to control the pursestrings.

    I think these "Progressive" evangelicals are either naive at best or Judas's at worst.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • ellid

      Your reading of the Bible shows only your profound ignorance of the subject. Go read Matthew 25 and then tell me that Jesus didn't believe in assisting the poor, you appalling excuse for a human being.

      February 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  3. fsmgroupie


    February 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  4. Al the nomad

    I remember a preist once say when I was a Cattolic, he said dept is evil. And I remember somebody said money is the root of all evil. And so I taught if dept and money is all evil then somebody who may have produced it may have come from hell.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  5. Jim

    He'd cut abortion.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • ellid

      Why? He never once mentioned it. In fact, the Bible itself never mentions abortion. The closest it comes is in a passage where compensation is to be paid if a pregnant woman is injured and miscarries...and the compensation is less than that required for the adult of an actual person instead of a fetus.


      February 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  6. Visionary

    Does it matter? This is so silly. People give the individual named "jesus" way more credit than they should. Grow up folks and think for yourselves rather than rely on a pedestalled historical (nearly mythical) character. We have very, very, very little primary sources info on the guy. If the sheep want someone to follow, we have more and accurate info on the prophet Mohammed.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Anglican

      Well, it sounds as if you are all knowing, but wrong.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  7. wain

    Perhaps congressmen and women could take benefit cuts as all other workers do in tough times. I pay more every year for health care for my family, and I don't see why we should all be so willing to squeeze the poor when they aren't willing to tighten their belts. Give up yours first!

    February 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  8. joe

    Jesus would not support a progressive income tax as he didn't approve of taking what was one mans property to give to anohter .. Thou shall not steal. Somehow the 401C chruches have it all backwords today.

    February 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • ellid

      No, Jesus only said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man (like, say, the Koch brothers) to enter the kingdom of heaven.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  9. carlyd

    While I am in total favor of this ad, I wonder how many of these Christians voted for the very people who are now trying to cut the funding to these social programs. I suspect it is quite a lot. And...will they remember that in 2012?

    February 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  10. brookln231

    What we need to do is start taxing all religious organizations.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Liza Null

      Start with The Vatican.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  11. Mikey17

    Many of the comments here are bizarre. I guess some people don't like to be called out for their hyprocracy, eh?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  12. Mr Caps

    Thou shalt not covet thy tax payer's money.
    On another note, most churches are doing fine economically because the live within their means.
    Churches for the most part are economically conservative, they don't hire unneeded staff and work within very tight budgets.
    They know how to stretch a penny.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • arduck

      and that has what to do with the price of tea in China?

      February 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • ellid

      Not only is this a total distortion of the actual words of the Bible, it's factually untrue. Megachurches and those that operate according to the heresy of the Prosperity Gospel may have money, but far more don't.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  13. sarah

    Even if you take the jesus out of this it still makes sence. I mean not everyone is religious but we all need to look out for one another and cutting funding for the needy is wrong. If we get rid of the funding it won't be long before we become a 3rd world country. The middle class and poor are the backbone of this country and we totally should be looking out for everyone not lining rich peoples pockets more. I think jesus would be shaking his head at us!!! Maybe our congressmen need to think about cuting a dollar an hour from there salerys and there goes our worries!

    February 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  14. Anthony

    Does it matter what Jesus would cut? I thought we had a separation of church and state in America. Therefore, religious views should not influence government action. It is time the American government stopped using faith, especially if it is only one, to guide it. Besides that, why only consider what Jesus would cut? There are many other religions in America. Shouldn't we consider what Moses would cut? Or even more radically, what would Mohammed cut? Isn't that the heart of democracy?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      Since we are a republic; your argument is invalid. Countries always fail when they become democratic as that is majority rules and majority as we've seen in many middle eastern countries is just mob rule

      February 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • ellid

      Tell that to all the evangelicals who follow the heretical teachings of RS Rushdoony and support making America a "Christian" nation that operates according to their perverted version of Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  15. Brian

    Jesus would close all mega churches and give the money to Wisconsin

    February 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • ellid

      He'd also have some very harsh words for Scott Walker, the Koch brothers, John Boehner, Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, and all the other so-called "Christians" whose policies favor the rich and powerful over the poor and weak.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Anglican

      ellid. Good post. I agree. They get rich at the expense of the poor.

      February 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  16. Saint Clotilde

    If I recall the Bible correctly, Jesus would feed everybody with a couple of loaves and fishes and the Mississippi would run with Merlot. Fig trees that didn't bear fruit out of season would pretty much be toast and as far as arms control goes... "Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36 No government subsidy required.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  17. vel

    JC would cut EVERYTHING. One is supposed to ignore all the things of this world, and depend on God to supply them. All of one's possessions, one's family, everything. One should not need a government, or an army or any defense or a food and drug adminitration to keep you safe or insurance or anything if one is a Christian. But we all know that Christians who actually follow this are vanishingly few. JC does say to take care of the poor but he also says they'll be around always so he's the first and foremost thing. So, if you really are a Christian, you are stuck. Do you want modern civilization or not?

    February 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  18. Steve

    It does not matter how you "read" the bible. What matters is what is written. The church is doing these things. You are missing the point, which is our responsibility to fellow man. Deuteronomy 15:11 reads"The poor shall not cease from the land; therefore I command you to open wide your hand to your brother (fellow man), the poor, and to the needy in your land." God says this to bless those who follow this command. Psalm 41 reads that blessed is the man who considers the poor. God is neither Republican nor Democrat. He is God.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • upbeatred1

      Thank you, Steve. It is human will that has created these problem. Blessed are the poor in spirit, in pocketbook... for they shall see God. And wouldn't it be nice if God was in the form of another human being who was helping that poor person? It is not hard to do! And goodness given returns multiplied.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Liza Null

      Aw, that's nice. What a nice thought. And even nicer, would be to load up Nancy Pelosi's PRIVATE JET, which costs taxpayers MILLIONS OF DOLLARS every time it's fired up, and load it up with the poorest of the poor, and ride 'em around for awhile, and let 'em sit in nice soft cushy seats and be served fine hors d'oevres, and listen to muzak and watch a little TV. Put on The Jeffersons or something for 'em, and let 'em have a nice li'l afternoon with Pelosi. Wouldn't that be so nice? I think that would be so nice.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • ellid

      And as usual, the Bible is twisted to avoid the plain fact that Jesus did not support military action, hardware, or soldiers, but directly commanded his followers to aid the poor and defend the weak. Boehner should be ashamed of himself.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Matt

      @Liza Null

      Replace "Nancy Pelosi" with "Sarah Palin" and it all works just the same. Actually no, not just the private jet for Ms. Palin, she also could through in the thousands upon thousands she demands for every speech she makes. That feed many, many impoverished people

      February 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • teufelhund

      Thankyou Steve for the rational thought . As a nation our most important product are our people and the general welfare of same . Our government cannot be a haven for the lobby culture, defense industries , outsourced job merchants and corporate greed in general forever. Yes Steve, the people of the United States need and deserve a representative government, which at this present time in our history we are not getting . The times hopefully are a'changing .

      February 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Joe from Boston

      My recollection of the Bible is that your gifts should be derived from love or charity in your heart if it is not then it doesn't account for anything in God's sight. Therefore the Churches should be persuading people to generously give to support the poor rather than asking the government to take from one to give to another. I don't see the churches giving from their endowments or mortgaging the buildings to satisfy this condition.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  19. Jimbo

    "Render unto the government that which is the government's, and unto God that which is God's"

    February 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • CM

      I'm sure you apply the same reason when you push for gay marriage bans...

      February 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  20. leonard

    what would jesus cut? Nothing, since he is a fictional character living in the first century. I always laugh whan i hear pagans saying that!

    February 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Jeff

      Even Josephus the Jewish historian acknowledges Jesus. As for what he would do? He would not be involved in politics. He would lead by example and not rely on the government. He would preach that we as individuals need to look in the mirror and act out of love to others in every way we can.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • TheJessieSimone

      You won't be laughing when your skin is falling off your bones after being burned off by the endless fire created to punish/torment the damned, like yourself, throughout eternity.

      Anyway, where can it be proven that Jesus was even a capitalist? That has to be addressed first.

      February 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • driving

      Tell it like it is Jeff' some people just don't get and never Will"""""""""""

      February 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
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