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. Wallace

    Another pack of lefties trying to subordinate the Lord to their political program. Phonies, the lot.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  2. OSweet

    And by Jesus, he means Karl Marx.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  3. NH Spartacus 69

    Personally, I think Jesus would cut it all. For all my Bible reading, I haven't yet found any passage where Christ enjoins his followers to use the force of government to take from those who "have" and give to those who "need." There are many places where we are called as individuals to share whatever abundance we've enjoyed with those less fortunate. There are even more passages where His followers are called to personal responsibility (i.e. if you don't work, you don't deserve to eat). Those who use government to satisfy their personal obligations to help their fellow man are lazy, authoritarian, and just plain lazy and irresponsible. If they think something is worth supporting, let them find private funding instead of mandating, under whatever guise, via the government that their will be done. There is no passage in the Bible that condems the wealthy to eternal damnation simply for possessing wealth; after all we are called to live lives of abundance. The passages that warn the wealthy of their fate in the afterlife do so if they, in greed and selfishness, fail to share their abundance with those who are truly needy. Yes, Jesus would cut it all, I think. Those who disagree have a responsibility to show where it is written that using the government as Robin Hood is a Christian obligation.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  4. baloney

    What I'd really like to know is how many of these idiots were complaing when the dems were in power and chose to vote them out. You knew what you were going to get no bend over and get what you deserve for putting the repugs back in power. Here's on for you bible thumpers "you've reaped what you've sown". Idiots!

    March 1, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • NH Spartacus 69

      These "progressive" Christians were the ones who voted for Obama and the Democrats; they were the ones who said Obamacare is holy and they are the ones who can't seem to find any moral absolutes because people can't be expected to fend for themselves in this big evil, mean world. These are the people who LOST in 2010. Anybody who believes that government must be depended on to care for the needy doesn't vote Republican. Abe Lincoln said "it is better to remain silent and appear foolish than to speak and remove all doubt." You might want to keep that in mind before you spout off next time.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  5. The Woof

    From the comments that I've read I see that we all need to read the Bible more to try a get a better knowledge and wisdom of what the Bible teaches. Jesus's main reason in being born was to reconcile man to God as well as to sacrifice himself for our sins so that mankind would have the opportunity to arrive at the life that God intended for us in the first place. He showed us that a perfcet sinful life could be led and he also told us just who was in charge of this world and that this would change. Yes he cared for the poor, the down trodden, the sick. Yes he hated greed, lies, anything that was going against His Father's teachings. With these politicians, whether Democrat or Republicans, all I see is failure and this failure of man to govern himself has been proven over the centuries. For the agnostics and atheists, when the time comes don't let there be an "oops" in your life.

    March 1, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  6. Noel

    Politics and religion do not mix. When I go to mass and hear the priest start spewing out political rhetoric, it upsets me. I agree the church should be taxed to a point, after their charitable contributions have been analyzed. I know the Catholic church in Colorado Springs runs a soup kitchen, so they should be praised for feeding over 500 people daily. I just don't like it when they get involved in politics. They should let their congregation do the talking when it comes to voting.

    March 1, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  7. William Demuth

    Jesus dosen’t approve of Abortion.

    He prefers to use wild bears to kill the little children.

    March 1, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  8. Alex

    Not only are Republicans non-Christian, they are also non-American. The most vulnerable in this country also happen to be the majority right now. Repubs are too busy taking care of the minority elite.

    March 1, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  9. William Demuth


    Your missing the point. Jesus is a fable. He never actually walked any where other than in the imaginations of some gullible humans.

    March 1, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  10. William Demuth


    Your missing the point. Jesus is a fable. He never actually walked any where other than in the imaginations of some gullible humans.

    Can you offer evidence that is NOT tainted by the believers. He is no different than Mickey Mouse or Iron Man, a COMPLETE fabrication.

    March 1, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  11. William Demuth

    A coalition of progressive Christian leaders is an oxymoron.

    How could a cabal of thieves and pedophiles be considered progressive?

    They have been running their scam for millenia, and the credibility bubble has burst.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  12. syzito

    The answer to this question isn't complicated to comprehend once you understand how the future plays out in eternity.God does know our future which seems to deny free will;because if God knows and God can not have false knowledge then free will is out of the question completely.However if many,even infinite futures exist and each is determined by which choice we make [ quantum physics] at each turning point then we do possess free will.God will know all the potential futures of our lives,but God will not know which path we choose until we choose it.Each choice we make [ each second of our lives] determines another path for life and this choice is completely unknown until its made. God knows what leads down the paths we choose, but God does not know our choices in advance because they are undefinable as they are infinite in essence.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  13. David

    This agnostic is fully in support of this article. It's funny how few of Jesus's teachings are espoused by so-called christian leaders. It's nice to see religion being used for good rather than for repression.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  14. olbabee

    He wouldn't cut anything. He's teaching us a lesson right now.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  15. Mike

    Seems like a good ad to me. It always seems those on the right that proclaim their Christianity the loudest (Newt are you reading this?) are those promoting the meanest least caring policies while defending the rich getting richer tactics. Their day of judgement should be fun to watch! (I'm not religious but am fascinated by this hypocrisy).

    March 1, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  16. Jon

    I think George Carlin said it best when he said, "I don't know how you feel, but I'm pretty sick of church people. You know what they ought to do with churches? Tax them. If holy people are so interested in politics, government, and public policy, let them pay the price of admission like everybody else. The Catholic Church alone could wipe out the national debt if all you did was tax their real estate." I don't care what Jesus would cut. Jesus should have no say in what goes on in the government.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • Mike

      Agreed .... and I suspect so would JC. 🙂

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

      Many very important people, in our history, agree with you (and George). http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/founding-fathers-xtianity.html

      March 1, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • bobcatstate

      Whether you believe more in human values or heartfelt spiritual values, your comment does nothing that goes to the heart of the debate– that helping one another goes a lot farther than neglecting or paying for things that bring pain and suffering to one another....

      March 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  17. watash

    No welfare to single teens who have babies

    March 1, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • jboh

      "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", Jesus. We know what Jesus said. Do you?

      March 1, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Aarrgghh

      Yeah, that's definitely the first thing an "all kind" prophet would do, is wipe his feet on the poor and downtrodden of society... Ricki Retardo

      March 1, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • William Demuth

      Did the Virgin Mary get welfare?

      March 1, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • mark lee schnitzer

      @ Watash....Why stop at teenage mom's...let's cut off food stamps, and WIC, and medicaid, and housing support, and job training. Then let's make abortion illegal, get rid of social service agencies including CPS and just take the kids from the "welfare" moms and house them in work dormatories and as soon as they can walk and understand we can put them to work. This way we have free labor and corporations can make more money for the CEO's and stockholders. This way everyone "wins!"
      Clearly I mean this post as sarcasm (although I am sure some in political power may see this as a viable alternative).

      March 1, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  18. Jeff

    What would Jesus cut....he'd cut my tax to 10%

    March 1, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Fr33d0mhawk

      No he wouldn't. Jesus did not cut taxes, and if you ever cracked open a bible in your life you would know he defended the tax collectors O, if you had a shred of honesty, more likely, you could admit that Jesus purpose on earth was not to cut taxes, but your perpetual state of hypocrisy forbids that. Did you mean the real Jesus or the Neocon Jesus, Koresh?

      March 1, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • Aarrgghh

      Trick question fr33dom, as David Koresh actually existed. The same can not be said for your "jesus" Oh and what would Jesus cut? obviously the foreskin

      March 1, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  19. Jason B.

    A long time ago I heard something that fits this to a "t": "All will be right in the world the day schools are fully funded and the military has to hold a bake sale to buy a tank."

    Although I do find it very interesting that the GOP, which tends to thump it's collective Bible pretty hard, always takes the first budget shots at charities, the arts, and education.

    March 1, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  20. Bruce

    I don't think Jesus would need a budget...He'd just do it all in his head.

    March 1, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • Disclosure?

      I'm pretty disappointed with CNN's journalistic ethics on this one. Two of these guys are pretty close to President Obama (both have served him in some advisory capacity or another). You'd think at least there would be at least some mention of that relationship somewhere.

      The other guy, the 'Bread for the World' guy is the head of the worst kind of 'Charity' The kind that doesn't actually help anyone, but simply calls for action on the part of the government. Jesus' call for charity was individual first. This is ballot box charity at its worst. If your first reaction to Jesus' minstry to the poor is to demand that others (or the government) help them, it definitely profits you nothing. Then again, the idea that Jesus would want his mission outsourced to a government that isn't even allowed to work in his name... maybe even more egregious. To God be the Glory. To do 'service' under the banner of those who can't even acknowledge that is definitely not a service to Christ.

      March 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
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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.