Acton Institute Powerblog

What Would Jesus Cut…from the Constitution?

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Shane Claiborne and Jim Wallis are  posing the question, “What Would Jesus Cut?” in an effort to skew the federal budget debates toward the usual big government solutions favored by the religious left.

Recently, Claiborne wrote an article for the Huffington Post, exploring the idea of withholding a portion of his taxes to demonstrate his disapproval of military spending. He announced that he is going to withhold 30 percent of his taxes to protest all U.S. defense spending. Mark Tooley, at the, has given thoughtful push-back questioning how Claiborne got the 30 percent figure along with articulating logical flaws in Claiborne’s ideology:

It’s not clear where Claiborne got the 30 percent figure.  U.S. military spending in 2011, including Iraq and Afghanistan operations, is supposed to be about $671 billion out of an over $3.8 trillion budget.  So the military will consume under 18 percent of federal spending.  Maybe Claiborne is playing the usual game of excluding “entitlement” spending from the total…

Claiborne, like much of the Evangelical and Religious Left, wants to reinterpret Christianity primarily into a resistance movement against the “empire,” which is chiefly America.  By doubling the actual amount of U.S. defense spending as a percentage of the federal budget, and deducting 30 percent from his IRS bill, Claiborne is striking his own blow against the empire.   No doubt America will survive without Claiborne paying all his taxes.  But what would happen if all American Christians ignored the teachings of their own faith and didn’t pay their taxes in protest against all military defenses?  What evils would then prevail?  How many would die?  What chaos and suffering would then ensue?

Here at the Acton Institute we have developed the Principles for Budget Reform resource page where we not only explore the problems with the federal budget, but provide solutions that are fiscally and morally responsible. Furthermore, we have questioned Wallis, Claiborne, and the “What Would Jesus Cut?” campaign by providing reasoned critiques which can also be found on the resource page.

In light of today being Tax Day,  we asked whether the “What Would Jesus Cut?” campaign might not be counter-posed with the question, “What Would Jesus Cut…from the Constitution?” Our new ad can be found on the Principles for Budget Reform resource page. We’re making the ad freely available for use as a poster or as an advertisement in your local paper, church publication or bulletin, or school newspaper.

Louie Glinzak


  • Chuck Serio

    If I followed Shane Claiborne’s lead and I decided to withhold my taxes that are used to fund all of the functions that are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution, I would cut my tax payments by at least fifty percent. What is good for the goose is good for the gander — right?

  • Thank you all again for all the great work you’re doing!

  • Clay Walden

    I believe Jesus would respond give to America what is America’s, and God what is God’s.

    I do not know where he got the figues but I am guessing shane used deffense budget (homeland security, interest occurred from previous wars, DOD, ect.)

    Before I get roasted for my comment on cutting deffense spending let me explain my context.
    I live in south Texas and there is plenty of Drug Cartel, Gang killing, and not much federal help if any. There is literally a War going on in this area of Texas. I KNOW it not safe for me(white boy) to travel south of Kingsville anymore. I guess all those nukes they stored up, and all the wars is making to tough help us out down here.

    I pay my taxes cause I live in America. But I am also a member of a new nation, a new kingdom, and I am convicted to say that to bring Love to the world we must kill and be capable of killing entire countries with weapons. If you honestly feel that God has blessed that in your life then I will not fight about it.

    For me Loving others as myself is not about killing. I think if we live by the sword we die by the sword, or live by guns and bombs, we will die by guns and bombs.

    I fear not the one who can kill my flesh but the one who can kill my spirit, (Mathew 10:28) and I do believe we should wage war in the spirit but not the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3)

  • Chuck Serio

    “I guess all those nukes they stored up, and all the wars is making to tough help us out down here.”

    I have to disagree with Clay Walden on his point about there being insufficient resources to defend the border. To the contrary, I believe that it is obvious that the current administration, as was the previous one, is opposed to securing the border as a matter of policy. The motivations for this policy are a matter of speculation.