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. LessGovernment

    Jesus faced taxes, war and big government "aka roman empire". He asked, not forced, people to love one another. He told those with wealth that they should help the poor. I don't recall reading him lobbying Pilot to tax the people more for bigger social programs. Jesus had infinate power and still let us make our own choices. Why can't our Government?

    February 28, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  2. Brownstain

    Jeebus was a moron.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  3. Bender

    Who cares how he would cut it. Religion has no business in politics. Politics are corrupt enough as it is.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  4. Ed

    Who in the hell cares. What a god damn strupid story. Screw this religious crap. Keep it to yourself. I don't want to see stuff written about a looser and fairy tale crap.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  5. juicelee

    Jesus believed in helping a man up, but did not believe in giving people more than they earned (parable of the talents) or in letting people make money in his name...he threw them out of the temple. Only someone who doesn't understand that we are all given opportunities to work and become self reliable and make our own way would use this false hypothesis. Jesus was not a liberal in the sense that liberals believe in big government. He believedin a person working hard to be self sufficient and taking caring of others when needed, not supporting them for life when they could work themselves. Democrats (and liberals in particular) love to enforce economic slavery to push forward their agenda and thus make people reliant on government programs to support them. Wouldn't it be great if we each took care of ourselves and our families....but then the government couldn't own you and have your vote in their pockets.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  6. SolarFarmer


    As a business owner in renewable energy, I'd wager to say that most business-minded environmentalist think ethanol subsidies are a giant waste of money and damage the environment to boot. Before a discussion is launched about the cost of solar, I'd state that most local subsidy programs actually drive up project cost and waste millions. Better (and profitable) distributed power policy is unfortunately neglected by utilities, whose policies are always (and perhaps rightly) behind the market. As is, solar power is immediately cost effective when included in a home mortgage in all residential markets where electricity is over 12 cents per kwh, without local incentives or Cap-and-Trade. Yet until home appraisers align themselves with financial sector, this potential will remain untapped.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  7. RV1982

    I question Mr. Wallis' interpretation of the bible...Jesus made it clear that his words were directed at individuals and not government. You could argue he was the first to come up with the philosophy of separation of "church" and state.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Tom R

      Jeus wasnt crusified because he challenged people. He challenged the government.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  8. Nick

    How anyone can scream bloody murder about their 2nd amendment rights, cutting social welfare programs, and supporting the right wing war machine campaign while claiming to be a Christian is beyond me. Jesus was the poster child for pacifism and helping the poor. There are plenty of hypocrites in the Democratic party but they never seem to be quite as blatant as the Christian right in the GOP.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Rod C. Venger

      What does being a Christian have to do with 2nd Amendment rights? Enlighten me, Nick.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • utahsang

      Another liberal wanting government to do what they should be doing . That way they can feel good about themselves without actually doing anything.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  9. Rod C. Venger

    As far as I know, there's not a lot of call for bed nets in the US. I'd think by now that we'd have produced and given away enough to supply them to anyone that wants them. If the greens would let us k i l l the mosquitos, malaria wouldn't be an issue, but they've hamstrung the US. The "What would Jesus cut" group purchased and gave away 3,000 bracelets for people to give to politicians. I wonder how many bed nets could have been made instead?

    Fact is, every charitable group on the planet has it's thing. Bed nets in jungles. Plumbing for fresh water in many countries. Plumbing for sewage in same. Feed the poor. Free dental. Free medical. Vaccinations. Learn English. Literacy in their own language. The list is endless.

    Charities should not rely on the taxpayers to fund their activities, rather they should keep soliciting private citizens for money. Yes, they are one and the same, but, taxpayers have no choices. Private citizens do.

    This will not be the first, nor the last, campaign we'll see where some group doesn't want to have it's funding cut. Everyone needs to realize that the free ride is over. We have to live within our means.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  10. utahsang

    What the liberals do not understand is that Jesus wanted people to voluntarily help poor people and donate voluntarily not delegate to government but the answer is in the individual. Surprisingly these so called progressive christians are strangely silent on abortion (Otherwhise known as killing babies) what would Jesus say about abortion?

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

      Jesus never mentioned abortion but he did mention taking care of the old, poor, ill, and not being a glutinous while others suffer. I think Jesus would be deeply offended that a nation that could provide healthcare for the sick would not because of economic greed.

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

      Big D nobody is stopping you from getting involved and donating to your favorite charities the problem with liberals is they do not want to use there money to help the poor they want to use other peoples money.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  11. Reality

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


    "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. Time to change this loop-hole in the tax regulations.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  12. Caleb

    He would cut welfare for those who are able to work but choose not to. He would require all those who live in natural disaster areas to have homeowners insurance so that when disaster comes, the whole nation doesn't have to bail them out. He would not allow those who have no business carrying around a credit card to have one. He would have big business' closely monitored so that come tax season, they are not cheating on there taxes. Had they actually paid what they actually owe, we wouldn't be in such bad shape. He would inspire us all to show compassion on those who are less fortunate and provide for their needs. At the same time, he would inspire those who are in need to take more responsibility for themselves by holding a job and living a responsable way of life. These are all tough choices to make but so is the path that Christ admonished us to take.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  13. Big_D

    Be careful or GOP Jesus will come hunt you down with an M-16! Jesus wants rich people to have 3% more so the rest of the world can suffer while they roll in the cash. Isn't GOP Jesus a wonderful invention? This is sad that our system is beset by Republicans that think the best way out of a recession is to eliminate more jobs and take away workers and social protections so they can further the system that caused the economic collapse in the first place. We didn't have a deficit problem before Reagan.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • utahsang

      Are you aware that congress controlls spending and that democrats had the majority in the house when Reagan was president?

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

      We didn't have a deficit problem before Reagan. It is just a fact that trickledown economics is a FAILURE! We have huge deficits and our middle class is going down while a few rich folks are becoming obscene. It doesn’t take a good look at Charlie Sheen to know that some folks are making too much for nothing.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • utahsang

      The total absurdity of the left is laughable . The reason leftists are always crying about what other people have and what they don't have is because of there insatiable greed. They want government to help the poor so they will not have to do anything.

      February 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  14. Jane Doe

    So, let me get this straight. A majority of those who post on this forum seem to have the solution to our problems. Essentially, if we were all atheist Democrats, we would be a perfect society? Interesting.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • bam

      of course not, Christian Taliban are the SUPREME beings no other human being is ALLOWED to even think they are a Christian Taliban equal in the United States.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Jane Doe

      What!? I am sorry, you are not making sense to me.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Nonimus

      Not sure about the majority, but if more people made rational decisions then we would have a better shot at making this country better for more people, yes. No guarantees though. And, I'm not saying that being atheist Democrats is necessary either, but basing your decisions on a 2000 year old book is not rational.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Jane Doe

      So, the biblical concepts of giving to the poor,taking care of widows and orphans, not stealing, not cheating your neighbor, loving your neighbor, treating others with gentleness, kindness, being slow to anger and quick to love are antiquated ideas that promote more harm than good? Okay...

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

      @Jane Doe,
      First I don't think those are "biblical" concepts, since many actually predate the bible: not stealing or cheating was in the Code of Hammurabi(sp?), taking care of the unfortunate and treating others well are covered by the so-called Golden Rule which apparently showed up as early as ancient Greece with Thales, Epicurius, and Plato's Socrates and maybe as early as ancient Eygypt 1650 BCE in the Eloquent Peasant.

      Second, those concepts are still valid today based on human nature, whereas the basing your decisions soley on, or in compliance with, a 2000 year old book does not allow for new concepts and information. Or, do you think that slavery is still okay?

      March 1, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  15. Chris

    Jesus would have made the point that you wouldn't realy need a govt. if you followed his advice.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  16. stainpouch

    Strange to read Boehner's name in the same article with Jesus. What would Jesus do, indeed. I don't know what all the fuss is about; after all, before we elected a Muslim as president, we had one who had "a personal relatonshiip with Cheezes," (be warned, that phrase always introduces lunacy) and Cheezes told the Prezdent he should start wars of aggression, give all the contracts to his VP, and then what money is left over should be stolen by his oil and banking buddies. That accomplished, we can ignore everything else. Now, Cheezes didn't give it all up; no, Cheezes also told the Prezdent to 'privatize Social Security"; that meant take your Social Security account and give it to Wall Street execs. They are interchangeable with Cheezes, apparently. The poor? This is a Christian nation, we don't care about the poor. Brothers keeper? Hey, that's 'commonizm.' The Right likes to pose the question in question but somehow the answers are always the same: Cheezes wants them to have all the money and the rest of us should shut up and die. Children? Nah–bullets. Health care? More bullets. What about–nope–bullets. Cheezes sure does like bullets–doesn't he?

    February 28, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Tom R

      Check your zipper. Your intelligence is showing

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

      Nobody is stopping you from donating your money and time from any organization you would like to support quit asking the government to do the job citizens should be doing on there own when government gets involved in charities, charities become corrupted.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • BrianL

      your post shows how not only ignorant you and those who "think" like you, are. You still think that all you have to do is keep saying lies and somehow, it will become truth.
      You have no business posting on an article about Jesus or Christianity for that matter. A Christian you are not – by your own words.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  17. Erik

    He'd pray it away. 😉

    February 28, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  18. Tom

    This is good. All the right wing conservative "Christians" know Jesus was a liberal.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  19. rene

    WOW! this is super irrelevant! .............(sigh)

    February 28, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  20. Brian

    Rumsfeld said congress was throwing billions at the pentagon that they didn't want or need. Let's cut those billions and see how quickly they scream that it is undermining our defense.

    I am happy to see a group from the christian right stand up for some christian principles in regards to helping the needy and poor.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • bam

      How about STOP these tax exemptions for these religious things in the United States. There is no reason for them and we cant afford them. If the CHURCH does not want to pay HUGE taxes for all their LAND and HUGE buildings then dont use their zombie followers money to buy/build them. I do not know WHY my money is taken from me for these fallacies.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • UnfortunateColor

      The alternative engine for the joint strike fighter is something the military does not want, but it's a lucrative deal for G.E. Aircraft Engines and is supported by the local (Republican) politicians. Luckily it looks like that unnecessary program will finally die.

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

      Jesus wanted individuals to freely give on there own. Liberals want government to support charities they pick so they don't have to get involved by spending there own money . Nobody is stopping you from donating to your favorite charity.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:00 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.