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. JWH

    How dare they invoke the anme of the Lord. Who they do not know. It is an oxy moran to be a progressive Christian.
    Acting like they really care, they should 1. Stop killing babies and 2. stop supporting sin....gaes.
    They should consider hell and how they can avoid it....namely the cross.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Hmmm....there are lots of Christian ministers and Biblical scholars who don't agree with you. For you to suggest that you know you are right and they are wrong is arrogant and judgmental. Neither of those characteristics are Christian.

      February 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  2. CharlieSeattle

    Lol, Clasic liberal esoteric religious tear jerk response.

    Jesus would cut NOTHING because he can create ALL out of thin air.........lol.............lol

    Seeing how all religions are fake and GOD does NOT exist, your comment is meaninless.

    Sigh, so the load falls on the people, as always.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • JWH

      Your mind is so small, yet you are so sure of nothing. There is a creator. The cross is foolishness for them that perish.

      February 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  3. FemmeFreethinker

    It's a miracle! A christian that actually makes sense!!!! I applaud this guys efforts for his humanitarian goals. Maybe there is hope in that there are some sane and intelligent religious people in the world that seek goodness for people.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  4. StewartIII

    NewsBusters: CNN 'Belief Blog' Hypes Ad by Liberal Christian Group Asking 'What Would Jesus Cut?'

    February 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  5. Raji the Green Witch

    Finally! An Evangelical minister who has his head screwed on straight! It's about time Christians realized that taking care of the poor, the elderly, and the disabled is far more important and more morally correct than spending on weapons programs and professional sports stadiums.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  6. annieLD

    What American Christians need to do now is create a Christian economy. We need dignified work for all so that no able-bodied person need ever be unemployed and rendered dependent on welfare or charity. How would such an economy look? My first ideas are land-based. If all the Christian churches united, bought land and started farms where people who are now poor and hopeless could work, share the products of their work, educate their children and raise them in safety and health, what a wonderful contribution that would be! The capitalistic economy uses and discards people as profit dictates. I think Christians can do better than that.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  7. Warner

    "Render under Caesar what is due to Caesar." I think he'd not care enough to jump in to the running of the state. His focus was preparing people for living in his father's mansions in heaven. The budget crisis of the US would be so much noise that wouldn't interest him much...

    February 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  8. annieLD

    Finally! The "other" Christians are taking a stand! Most Christians want their government to reflect their value and it is clear what Jesus' values were on the poor, the sick and non-violence. The majority of mainstream Christians have allowed a vocal minority to take over our government and interpret scripture and Christian values for all Christians. Sadly, thanks to them, the unsaved who need Jesus think God is a hateful bully who beats up on scared, pregnant teenagers and gays and sends them to eternal hell and will have nothing to do with the church. It is also clear that Jesus was not political and actively resisted being put on the throne in his day. He repeatedly stated, "My kingdom is not of this world." But fundamentalists have ignored his apolitical stance and his true calling as teacher of truth and salvation and corrupted his message to serve their own political, social and economic purposes. So, yes, these Christians are right to enter the budget debate to speak for TRUE Christian values. Help the poor, heal the sick and love our enemies.

    February 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  9. Native American

    It has always seemed strange to me that the GOP paints itself as so Christian, and yet if you really look carefully at the beliefs of Jesus of Nazereth, he was by their standards a flaming liberal. I wonder what would happen to the GOP if their religious supporters actually started to pay attention to important details like that?

    February 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  10. Kelsey

    So where were these folks over the last ten years?

    February 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  11. El Gordo

    We can afford everything but billionaires. Those people are harming the country.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  12. Clark

    There is far too much religion in politics. Secular nations such as those in Western Europe have higher standards of living, less crime, greater access to health care and generally a better quality of life. Religous states such as Iran and other mid east countries that are nuts over religion have the lowest standards of living and are the worst places on earth to live. The United States as it gets more religous will see the people dumbed down and easily exploited as the quality of life continues to decline. And when the u.s. dollar is removed as the reserve currency for world oil purchases you had better hope that the poor will inherit the earth because all most people will have left is hope.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Clark, the secular nations of Europe are bankrupt and the quality of living is falling. Haven't you been reading the news lately. Austerity programs in Ireland, England, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and even Holland (which must be your favorite). The only one with positive growth is Germany. Religion is increasing in Germany by the way....check it out.

      February 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  13. Daniel

    Jesus Christ a political position I agree with the Christian right on?!?!! I guess you can get to the same destination by taking totally different paths. Must be a sign of impending doom.

    Anyway as I said different paths. To sum things up I see it as insanity to devote more money towards the defense of something than we do towards that something itself. 700 billion on DOD vs 400 billion on the rest of our government? INSANE!

    February 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  14. modes

    all my brothers and sisters! pray and thank god for everyday we enjoy \
    with our loved ones... and regardless of the criticism or hate that another
    brother shows us... continue to love and keep your faith, because god
    will give you your reward in heaven. GOD BLESS US ALL IN THESE DARK TIMES

    February 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • @modes

      GFY Mental Midget

      February 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  15. Thomas Jones

    Brandons a pothead! lol

    February 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  16. Brandon

    The War on Drugs. Alcohol and the War on Drugs have killed more people in the last 60 seconds than marijuana ever has in the last 5000+ years (0). There has GOT to be something wrong. Especially when 75% of domestic home violence involves..ALCOHOL. What about marijuana? It's a Schedule 1 "narcotic", but what does it harm? Well...it makes you sit. If we logically arrest pot smokers for BEING PEACEFUL then we should logically give life sentences to drunk drivers.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  17. espirit2

    Using Jesus's name to further a political agenda. Wonder what he'd say about that? I haven't read anything in the bible about him wanting more money from the federal government of Rome for state employees.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  18. Thomas Jones

    Im going to burn in hell.... see ya all alatter

    February 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  19. someguy

    He would cut himself off of that cross. That most have hurt like a Mother.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  20. Thomas Jones

    Since all we know about Jesus is almost entirely fiction who knows. No scientific fact regard his life except he gave a Sermon on the Mount and died as a normal human being not a superstar superhero.

    February 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • El Gordo

      The sermon on the mount was pretty dubious. More likely that sermon is a list of proverbs that came to be associated with Jesus. Probably some of them he actually said, though we have no ideas which one.

      February 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • @TJ

      He would cut himself in a dark corner while listening to, "My Chemical Romance" backwards.

      Jesus is soooo Emo.

      February 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Yabba

      Agreed. Stupid question, too. Sounds like something a child would ask. What would santa want me to do?

      February 28, 2011 at 8:42 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.