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. bailoutsos

    He would tax church income.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  2. pjd

    I'm solidly behind separation of church and state. However, I think it's valid to ask "What kind of society do we want?" and "What values (secular or otherwise) found our society?"

    February 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  3. mike

    that's exactly what republicans are saying and wil continue to say because of military spending in their districts and kick backs from foreign governments who don't have to cover thecost of their own security needs. You need to accept the fact that these folks are fake Christians – their in it for the votes. What Jesus would do is irrelevant to them so you'd better start a conversation about what it really means to follow Christ. do it today!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  4. Starman

    Wait a second. Their religious leaders of the world who completely back the republican party that is responsible for the 850 billion a year military since Reagan days (trillions and trillions since) are now blaming Obama for it? Ridiculous! I will say though that if what they ask for is true, I can support them 100% although I ask them to take responsibility for the mess. Lets reduce the military spending of 850 bil in half which will still be many times more than the closest country and that will get $1000+ year back to tax payers. Lets do it!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  5. phil

    What would Jesus cut?

    Himself. "He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him; and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5, 6

    This is because he saw the debt we needed to pay: "The debt of sin is death!" (Romans 6:23) and "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

    So...here's what he did: God put Jesus to death. In doing this, the debt for sin was paid. Mankind no longer owes any debt at all! And this was done freely, not with anything we did: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (1 Peter 1:17-18).

    February 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • David Johnson


      What does that have to do with Republican spending cuts?

      February 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  6. Anglican

    Greetings. Christ would cut benifits to the rich. He would give everyone health and dental. Everyone would have a nice house and food to eat. There would be no industral-military complex. Everyone would have their share. My Lord always favored the maginalized. I do too. Peace.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  7. James

    That is like asking...What would Santa Clause cut? Keep religion out of everything that isn't confined within church walls.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  8. oregonian101

    I think Jesus would say, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's". I think he would also tell us to raise our children with good morals and a sense of right and wrong. That being said, our children as they grow up get to make their own minds. That being said, I think it unlikely our Lord would participate in a debate about a government's budget. My question to my Christian bretheren is: Do you want our government to run solely on what is written in the Bible? If so, do you use the Old or New Testament? If you are going to bits and pieces of the Old Testament then you need to use all of it correct? I continue to do the best I can to live the right kind of life as I was taught it to be. WWJD? Jesus would love everyone despite their side of the political spectrum. After all, isn't denying the existence of god the only unforgivable sin? We are all sinners and come short of the glory of god and we can only enter the kingdom of heaven through the grace of our Lord. We don't behave our way in. We behave godly so our lives are good, peaceful and so we become candles in the dark for those gone astray to have a beacon back to the path.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  9. Rabel Fibal

    Yeshua(Jesus), would have followed the weekly commandment of following Sabbath. A day of rest...

    This one is easy, and yet hard to follow. Take one day out of the week, and do no work, buying selling, creating, traveling, consuming, blogging, facebooking. That one day of rest collectively would turn this country around, that is profound...savings!
    But everyone is on the cell phones, ebay, movies and entertaining themselves to care...let the government take care of me. Why would we want people to write laws that they cannot follow themselves????

    February 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  10. Mary

    Thank you for writing this article!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  11. goddess

    WWJD hmmm...I would say everyone that is employed should work at $10/hr with benefits of medical and dental – there's no need for 7 figure salaries – if anyone should be making that much it should be to the ones who bust their @** day in and day out I make less than $10/hr but we get by on what is needed and have a couple $$ left over to put into savings

    February 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • David Johnson


      If you are working for a corporation, that earns billions...

      If the CEO of the corporation you work for, makes millions...

      Why is it right that you only make $10.00 per hour?

      That's where unions come in. They enable the working person to share in the profits of the company.

      God Save The Unions! Jesus would be a union worker! He was a carpenter!


      February 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  12. RF

    One cannot declare a moral majority and reject morality as socialism! This was a great article and should be declared mandatory reading for all in government.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  13. Dan

    Historically, we are reluctant to cut military budget dollars beause we say it will hurt our "freedom". I've got news for us all, NOT cutting our military budget is going to hurt our "economic freedom". In the very near future, our homes will be worth half as much, a loaf of bread will cost $5.00, and we all will feel the pain. We MUST cut our budgets, close some overseas bases, bring some troops home. We CANNOT afford to be the policeman of the world any longer.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  14. jeff

    I was under the impression the Republicans thought they were Jesus...

    February 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  15. David Johnson

    I have been asking CatholicMom and others, why the Christians were not taking a stand on the Republican cuts, that are aimed at the poor and middle class.

    Finally, my prayers have been answered. There truly might be religious people, that try to imitate Christ, in this country.

    The Republicans serve two masters: The Rich and the Religious Right. They have taken care of the rich, with tax cuts and union busting. They are taking care of the Religious Right by attacking women's rights. Gay Rights will be next.

    The Republicans will take away programs for the poor, but will not allow a progressive tax. Is that what Jesus would do?

    The choice comes down to guns or butter. I think Jesus would choose butter. The Republicans have chosen guns.

    Have you read a "Tale of Two Cities" ? The Republicans are telling those that are not rich, to eat cake!


    February 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      David! You Pray? To whom? I am very serious about this question! Or is this just sarcasm! You actually believe some are really trying to imitate Christ? I really hope you do or is this more sarcasm!?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • sassypants

      The cuts that Republicans are making will help the middle class in the long run. Without these cuts we kick the can down the road but the pain will eventually come.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "The cuts that Republicans are making will help the middle class in the long run. Without these cuts we kick the can down the road but the pain will eventually come."

      We need to reduce spending.

      It is not moral to cut programs for the poor and not cut military spending, first.

      It is not moral to cut programs for the poor, to give tax cuts to the rich.


      February 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  16. oregonian101

    I think Jesus would say, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's". I think he would also tell us to raise our children with good morals and a sense of right and wrong. That being said, our children as they grow up get to make their own minds.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Darryl Phillips

      Render unto Caesar what -IS- Caesar's". That is the point of the statement, to separate what IS Caesar'sfrom what Caesar might want.

      Taken that way, many of the coments take on a whole new meaning.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  17. Martin P.

    He wouldn't cut the budget. He would, with the wave of his hand, ensure that the world never ever moves away from the American greenback being the world's reserve currency so that the U.S. can simply print more money as required with nary a care.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  18. Linton Dawson

    Oh Tim – really, please stop with the whole "It is immoral to spend moeny that the unborn will have to pay back" tripe.
    your rrepublicans have started TWO wars that the unborn will pay for, for decades and decades. your republicans have given the tax breaks to the rich – who spend it on yachts – and the unborn will pay for those tax cuts as well. Yes, timmy – they are tax cuts. Before King George took over, they paid their fair share. The drunken cowboy gave them tax cuts, period,

    Now, run along, timmy – I'm sure there are some tea bags you need to deal with.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  19. deuce

    I can tell you one thing, Jesus wouldn't have been sitting here preaching a man's right to generate wealth by any means necessary with the only limits being those imposed by the oft-cited though never seen "free market" that the right continues to hold up as the savior to all of our world problems.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  20. gkingii

    The answer is in the phrase "Render unto Caeser the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things which are God's." The care of indigent, sick, poor, troubled and genuinely needy folks belongs to God and his believers. Government needs to stay out of that arena and take care of making functioning society work and remain safe.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • ken

      sherrrrr... I guess you never really heard Jesus words when he admonished his followers to sell their clothing and give the money to the poor. Or telling them that a hank of rope could go through the eye of a needle easier than the rich could go to Heaven. So the "least of us" should have no help from those who represent us? Go soak your head.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • sassypants

      True. Charity starts at home and it is not the Government's responsibility. If he truly believes what he is saying about how God will judge the nations then we have no business taking care of the people of other nations. God has also given them resources to take care of themselves. The fact that they are corrupt is not America's problem. Having said, you better not cut that military spending too much because other nations seem to have a problem with our blessing.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • sassypants

      Ken, money is a tool that God uses for His kingdom. Money is not bad but the love of money is. God blesses us and we are to be good stewards of what He gives us. Jesus said to seek first his kingdom and all of these things will be given to you. He wants us to prosper just as our soul prospers. This man is just a progressive working for the progressive movement. He looks real nice in that suit... wonder why he hasn't sold all of this possessions yet. Maybe he shouldn't be taking things out of context and trying deceive people.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • jjheinis

      I am appalled at the selfishness of American conservative Christians. This is one example at how selfish they are. Government is how all of us act collectively to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. We deserve as a nation the consequences of our actions. We are a warlike nation who has no desire to help our own citizens ever. This is a sad reflection upon America as a nation.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:23 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.