Acton Institute Powerblog

Jeff Jacoby: Jesus won’t tell them what to cut

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Writing in the Boston Globe, columnist Jeff Jacoby says that a “more fundamental problem with the “What Would Jesus Cut?’’ campaign is its planted axiom that Jesus would want Congress to do anything at all.”

As a believing Jew and a conservative, I don’t share the religious outlook or political priorities of Wallis and his co-signers. But you don’t have to be Christian or liberal to believe that in God’s eyes, a society is judged above all by its concern for the unfortunate. Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25 — “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me . . . Whatever you did for one of these least . . . you did for me’’ — echoes what Isaiah and other Hebrew prophets preached centuries earlier: “Learn to do well: seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.’’

But does it really follow from these timeless injunctions that God expects legislators never to eliminate any poverty program or social-welfare line item, or even to roll such spending back to where it stood a few years ago?

Read Jacoby’s “Separation of Jesus and Congress” in the Boston Globe.

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Roger McKinney

    Good editorial by Jeff!

    Wallis really doesn’t want to get into the morality debate. Is it moral to take the possessions of others so that you can give them to someone you think is more deserving and proclaim yourself a defender of the poor?

    The Late Scholastics defined taxation beyond the legitimate role of the state as theft. And they defined the legit role of the state as merely protecting life, liberty and property. Is it morally good to turn the state into a thief?

    And Wallis is just plain ignorant of the Bible. Yes, God commands his followers to give to the poor. But is there absolutely nothing else in the Bible but commands to help the poor? Wallis may not believe it but there is.

    There are injunctions against theft and covetousness. Warning about an oppressive state and the evil it can commit.

    In the Bible God judges individuals by how well they treat the poor, but he judges governments by how well they promote justice, defined as protecting the rights to life, liberty and property.

  • Ragle1221

    I do tend to agree with Wallis, but in this world of darkness today nothing is as simply as black and white. However, taxes are things which belong to the State. Whether we like it or not. We are to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God which belongs to God.