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. Robin

    Most of you speak so ignorantly. Jesus is real, and fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He owns everything, even your breath!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • rh

      So let me get this straight, Jesus is real and fear him? So you think a vengeful god is worth worshipping?

      How about insulting the name of Jesus by associating it with moneychangers/politicians/Pharisees? Is that okay somehow?

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

      LOL @ you and your 'hocus pocus' nonsense. Hope you enjoy wasting your life being devoted to a lost cause.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Perception

      Who will win the magic contest and what is a wasted life?

      February 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Tohrm

      So if I get lung cancer it's his fault? And he owns everything? Then I should be able to sue for damages, but then money would mean nothing either. So give me your worthless money and let your god provide you with all that you need. I'll make sure that bad ole money doesn't bother you any more. 🙂

      February 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  2. Zaphod2000

    By getting rid of all the rethugs in congress? Is this question a joke? My answer isn't. I hope people wake up in 2012 and vote them all out!!
    Jesus would have started with the promise of jobs!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Will Rogers

      Don't vote. it only encourages them.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  3. Curly

    I'll make sure to judge god on what he did and did not do for the needy among us too. This Jesus should be held accountable for his lack of action.
    I would like to see some real loving father get away with just leaving a book for his "children" to read and then never be heard from again. Prosecute Yahweh for the dead beat dad that he is.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Abused Child

      It's always mom and dad's fault.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  4. Mike

    Coming from a family of retail store owners with 15-20 employees each, I would like to know what people think is "fair" from an income tax perspective? While I pay tens of thousands of dollars in income tax each year, I don't think it is "fair" that half the country pays none. And when these "tax breaks for the rich" come, I get to hire more employees to expand my business. Would those funds be better spent by the government instead of by my new employees?

    February 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Derek

      If your taxes were cut to nothing then you would have tens of thousands to hire more people. The 3% difference in the tax rates means you would only have three thousand to hire more workers. How many workers can you hire for $3,000 dollars?

      February 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • One Solution

      Implementation of a straight percentage tax without loop holes implemented over time to allow people to adjust to new tax situations would seem to make the most sense. Everyone should pay their fair share to support the system, based on the amount they benefit from system. Then when we get rid of the loop holes, tax shelters etc. we all can hopefully have a more intelligent discussion about tax rates, once they're simple and we all suffer the same. I sense some may have issue with this though, because they make a living on gaming the current system rather than actually producing goods and services

      February 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  5. g tothreg

    I'm sure a lot of Middle Easterners are asking the same thing about what Allah would do. Could these idiots just choose sides, and FINALLY kill each other off for once. Then the rest of us civilized people in the modern world could finally have some phreekin peace. PLEASE!!!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Allah is Arabic for God. People are all asking the same stupid questions and killing each other for it. The world is collectively failing a 3rd grade exam and blowing themselves up because of it.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Professor All Around You

      Actually a test on comparative religion, philosophy and scientific reconcilliation on the grown up scale, is more of a high school or college test; that is if an unbiased course on such were allowed to start with. Unfortunately many from all perspectives only have first grade knowledge of the subject. So of course they fail the third grade version. Try a little harder.

      February 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  6. Connie Blankenship

    Jesus would not be at all concerned with our budget. For one thing our leaders and our people created this mess for want of money, military power over the rest of the world, and greediness in general, to name a few reasons. Jesus is concerned with his Father's kingdom and things that pertain to his Father's kingdom. Our budget, the millions of starving people around the world, the stockpile of bombs stashed here and there just don't happen to pertain to his Father's kingdom. All are manmade problems. If I had to bet, I would bet God tosses the prayers of the Repubs, Demos, TPartiers, right down the holy dumper.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  7. from MI

    HMMM... I always thought the Lord Loved a cheerful giver, not one who prys the money from our hands(gov't) and gives it to people, the church has failed we need to give more to the poor and stop looking to others to do it for us.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  8. Andrea

    No..no no no no! Jesus does not have anything to do with politics!!! However, if he were to suggest anything, I'm sure it would have more to do with giving, rather than taking away. Come to think of it, Jesus is pretty irrelevant to today's world. Can you believe it? Thousands of years later, and people still find a way to discredit science, while simultaneously thanking a dead guy for everything that's good in their life. Sigh.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Joe


      February 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  9. g tothreg


    February 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  10. Tyhouston

    How bout "What would Superman or Batman slash?"
    Darth Vader?
    Frodo Baggins?

    Religion is most dangerous when mythical beings who we make perfect in every way are brought into things like this.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Lanfear

      Seriously... I wanna know what Darth Vader would do!
      It's about as relevant as WWJD...

      February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Tyhouston

      He'd choke the hell out of anyone we owed money to over the phone. Heh.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Play Mind Forever

      Seriuosly, stick to your cartoon heroes. Stop illustrating the philosophic Peter Principle.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  11. j4sef

    This is so ridiculous. Why would CNN even post such an article? 'What would Jesus cut?' – Are 4 year olds running this country? Give me a break!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Rick


      February 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Jake

      Translation: I don't like the topic of this article, so I will lob a baseless criticism at it.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • j4sef

      Looks like I offended poor Jakey's 'God'.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • j4sef

      Ps. There's a difference between criticism and opinion.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Objective Sight

      Opinion could consider all sides where critcism might only see one.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  12. Alientech

    These religious fanatics shouldn't be pushing their views on the rest of us. Whatever happened to the separations of church and state? When Jesus is elected to run the government then we can ask him what he would cut. In the meantime, let's have the elected officials make that decision.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Elected officials are just about as bogus as Jesus.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Come on this is not about "jesuis literally making the cuts" this is about what should be considered for cutting according to the actions and words of Jesus.....it is not a literaly question at all.

      February 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Look In the Mirror

      Only the non-religious should have any rights or voice? Hmmm

      February 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      To Look IN the Mirror: YES

      February 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Grim Reaper

      @The JackDaw: Didn't they try something like that in the USSR, Red China etc.? What makes your idea better? How would you realistically implement it and if you can't, aren't you just as delussional as those you accuse? Perhaps even if you only think you can, your still just as dellusional.

      February 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  13. Rev Dave

    Remember that the worst part of objectivist ideology came from Anyn Rand's Atheism. She made it very clear in her books that altruism was self-indulgent and harmful. Now the so-called moral leaders of the right seem to be adopting the unseemly parts of objectivism and forgetting their altruism which is constantly supported in the Gospels. Someone needs to go to Sunday school!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Alientech

      Government enforced altruism is no altruism.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      @alientech – I suppose you think that the churches, leaders of business and such will just automatically all head towards altruism on their own then? History would show you that lthese areas are just as likely to promote war and predjudice. Governments on the other hand have actually had some reasonably longer lasting societies where the poor are taken care of pretty well. Honestly, both violence and compassioin are as common to mans behavior pattern as eating and breeding. With good leadership mankind can rise above the greed and violence that leads our world right now but it will take all of us together to end war, hunger, bigotry, etc...

      February 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  14. The Jackdaw

    Jesus was poor so I wouldn't ask him for financial advice.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      How many poor people require the services of a treasurer? Jesus had a treasurer his name..Judas (the betrayer).

      February 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      America has a treasurer too. His hame is China.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Same Same

      Isn't treasurer and betrayeroften the same today? How could Judas betray, if he did what Jesus required?

      February 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      The Jackdaw
      America has a treasurer too. His hame is China.
      BINGO! Yet he/she is stil getting $65 million per year in foreign aid! Go figure!

      February 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  15. Cheryl Wright

    Susan it is Joel Osteen not Josh. Pretty sad you can't crum on someone when you have no clue who your refering to.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  16. Lanfear

    I would bet that Jesus would know nothing about running an economy. I wouldn't wanna know.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  17. Chris

    Yes, render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. But the point of that passage is that everything belongs to God in the first place.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      INCLUDING US of course. And since we are not owners but merely caretakers of this world and its people – its Wealth is neither ours to Keep OR to Give – as the hands and eyes of God in the world we simply care for the Creation of which we are a part.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  18. oneSTARman

    What purpose do the Hundreds of Thousands of Men and Women serve that wait in bases in Korea and Europe and elsewhere for a ground war for based on 19th Century tactics. There will never be a war like that again. Its like having a fleet of Battle ships which only exist to fire shells at each other. The NUCLEAR 'stick' is the Big Deterrence and thousand of 'mini drones' can be used to 'secure and hold' an area while our people stay home and run the show for about 1% of what we spend on a useless 'Military Presence'. The Primary Purpose of this presence is intimidation which the aforementioned two pronged deterrence would provide. The REAL reason The Pentagon DEMAND this ridiculous waste is because of the tremendous POWERof being at the helm of Trillions of Defense Dollars.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Have you read the Hunger Games?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Surely

      And don't call me Shirley !

      February 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  19. Scott

    Why waste money on the poor? Public policies on the poor have never done anything but make people better at being poor. This is why churches are given privileges under non-profit laws and we are not allowed to scrutinize their books and tax them. So let the churches take over and cut that part of the budgets. If poor people want help let them go to church and beg.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • JC

      You better pray your never poor!

      February 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Loren

      The church SHOULD be the ones taking care of the poor. That's what the Bible says

      February 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Get a Grip

      hey fascist... how letting the Wall St. bankers beg?

      What cesspool of inhumanity do you wallow in?

      Oh, that's right, you have to be a human first...

      February 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      I can't IMAGINE why the word 'Scrooge' is awaiting moderation from the CNN Robo-Censor.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • LeeVT

      Are there no workhouses?

      Are there no prisons?

      February 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  20. Javier

    @Richard Cheese. "Jesus couldn't cut the budget, because HE'S NOT REAL". You need to learn some history, there's no doubt over the existance of Jesus.

    February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Lanfear

      Yes, there is doubt. Where's his remains? And say 'Jesus' did exist. There's no proof he was the son of God, or that God even exists.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Stephen

      Actually there is no proof of Jesus at all. If you believe in Jesus it is entirely on faith.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Greg s

      This is truly a stupid question, Jesus presence on earth would negate the whole need for this Govt, and a Military.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Vincent

      Are you stupid? The Romans kept cutting edge records of all there actions including information on there prisoners. It was never a question of whether jesus was real or not, the question was whether he was a profit and for that matter the son of god.

      February 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Religilous

      Educate yourself – jesus is a myth based on the egyptian god named horus. Only closed minded stupid people cant understand this. Too funny

      February 28, 2011 at 12:45 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.