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. ricky

    easy jesus is the light of the world.he who ask shell recived.so jesus don't need a budget

    February 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  2. John

    He would probably walk into the white house, capital building, senate, etc... and start flipping things over saying, "Although this isn't my Father's house, you have made a mockery against the house of the people!" Then He would chase every politician out and call them white-washed tombs. Then the people would crucify him for it anyway.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  3. 4chrissakes

    I think the first thing he would cut would be the cheese.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  4. Seth Hill

    When a woman poured very expensive oil on Jesus' head, his disciples complained she should have given the money to the poor. But Jesus said, "You'll always have the poor, but you won't always have me. She did a good thing." So I guess Jesus would cut programs for the poor, but keep programs that decorate religion. As an atheist, I think that's a terrible choice. But that's what Jesus said!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  5. Michael

    It was so noce to finally read an article that said what I've been thinking for years. Some politicians use morality to advance their own agend but fail to adhere and follow all of the Bible's teachings. These people simply want to feed the wealthy and ignore tose erally in need. They are in for a big surprise on their judgement day.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  6. craniotomy

    Jesus wouldn't cut anything ... he wouldn't have spent that much in the first place !!!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  7. Captan

    The other question is, if Jesus comes back would he be a Republican or Democrat?. Democrat go to church to learn from Jesus how to help others, Republicans go to church to ask forgivness for their daily sins,and they claim to be Christians.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • W247

      And what is your logic behind that statement? Which is kind of ridiculous.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  8. Mikey

    Very funny results to this article. I agree with the church's leaders...and I never agree with anything that they do, but to say that cutting programs for the poor and helpless is morally wrong gets my vote. But when it comes to the people who thump their bibles every chance they get...and they are ALL right wing, they come out to this and say that Jesus wasn't involved in politics, etc. Try turning the other cheek and see what reality has on the other side.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  9. John Williams

    Jesus would eliminate the Defense Department and destroy the Wall Street Banks.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  10. Barry

    There is nothing wrong with the budget that a large mass execution of congressmen and women couldn't fix.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  11. FT

    I don't believe in Jesus or god, but I do believe he makes a solid point. I could state opinion after opinion, but we all have those. I will share this though; cutting the defense budget isn't exactly a good idea. As long as the US is supporting boots on the ground in other nations, the last thing those men and women want to hear is "sorry, no more financial support for your job."

    Bring those folks home first, then cut. As far as helping the folks in need: a grand idea. But make them earn it. Everything should be earned. Nothing should be handed out just for the sake of handing it out.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  12. steve

    i think he would make marijuana legal and tax it. after all his father invented the stuff

    February 28, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  13. John

    Jesus was a Socialist! Tax the rich.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • DM

      You say that like it's a bad thing...screw the rich, they can afford it.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  14. Paul NYC

    Jesus would have been vocal about the way things are now - something I'm sure that the greedy would not like to think about. The majority of his scorn would be for those who wear their "godliness" like a cloak yet care nothing for their fellow human beings.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  15. Brian

    Given Jesus' opinion of bankers perhaps we should instead be asking, "What would Jesus heavily regulate?"

    February 28, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  16. CEL1

    Jesus was not concerned with budgets, taxes or money. He simply toolk someone elses bread and fish and fed the hungry/ He threw money changers(bankers) out of the temple in Jerusalem and called them thieves. Simply put, he was no conservative which is why the High Priest and and Sanhedrin had the Romans crucify Jesus. Stop worrying about money, stop worrying about banks and business, feed the hungry, heal the sick, give them the shirt off your back, unless, of course, you are not a true believer.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  17. Ryan

    Jesus would have said he was about saving people's souls, not balancing the budget.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  18. Rich Zubaty

    Thank you for living our faith right in the face of those who proclaim to be Christian as they drop more bombs.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  19. RIck

    I don't recall Jesus being a polictian, so I don't believe he would be involved in government.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  20. Laisz

    Thankfully we have the separation of church and state...otherwise America might adhere to the ideals of Christianity in its governance. We shouldn't be asking ourselves what Jesus would do: the church should be asking that themselves. While all of the things that Christianity preaches are good and it would be a better world if we endorsed them...it just isn't economically feasible, politically feasible, and frankly not even the job of our government to do. The founding fathers set up our government with the ideas of protecting the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, not for socialistic endeavors such as ensuring equality of outcome or providing for the poor. Americans are the most generous people in the world in terms of charitable contributions – both in money and in service hours- thus it should fall to the people as a whole to pick up the loss in aid to the poor in everyone's own community instead of the government becoming a socialist.

    February 28, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Michael

      Socialism is Christianity applied to real-world problems. Don't come here trying to explain away Jesus' social message. Either you are a Christian, or you aren't. If you're not, that's fine. But if you call yourself a Christian, well, you had best heed Jesus' words on wealth and social responsibility. Read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Or the time Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Or the advice he gave the rich: "Sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me." You cannot call yourself a Christian and reject Christ's teaching.

      February 28, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • DM

      You couldn't be more wrong. Further more, if you leave people at the mercy of the goodwill of their neighbors, you will find that you have most definitely over estimated the generosity of your neighbors. You might as well say that we should do away with police and fire departments, let the people volunteer to do that stuff. Let them take care of their own but we do not live in Ideals Ville, we live in reality.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • jp

      Michael, you are assuming that Jesus did actually exist...did you ever hear the parable about assumption?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • QuestionMe

      It's amazing to me when people talk about the concept of Separation of Church and State. What people seem to miss is that the Church is in the People and the People are in the State. There is no Separation. Where do you think the dominant basis for MORALITY and The IDEA of Right and Wrong come from in our culture....The STARS? I know we are trying to change the definition of MORALITY to whatever the dominant voice in Society this is right or wrong. The dominant voice does not men the majority....this is where money and activist come it. Too bad society is fickled! So...we got a bunch of confused people with no clear direction... Just go with the flow.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • JES

      You are absolutely insane.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Michael

      @jp – Where do I make the assumption that Jesus actually did exist? I said IF you call yourself a Christian, you should act accordingly. It seems you are making the assumptions here.
      By the way, your reference to the "ass-u-me" mnemonic falls short of sly – and it isn't a parable. Stop being a troll.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:57 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.