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 Frontpagemag.com, 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.