Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

What Would Jesus Do to Stimulate the Economy?

by Sarah Thorngate 

Tags: Spirituality, Church and State, Mindful Living, American Issues Project, stimulus package, Jesus,

A Stimulus Package for Jesus“Suppose you spent 1 million dollars every single day starting from the day Jesus was born, and kept spending through today…You would still have spent less money than Congress just spent.” This comparison opens an anti-stimulus package television ad launched today by the conservative American Issues Project.

By invoking Jesus’ name, the ad suggests that he too would have been opposed to the stimulus plan. It is jarring to think of Jesus—who wasn’t a huge proponent of storing up treasures on earth—spending one million dollars every single day. (Are we to assume that Jesus would have spent nearly all of one day’s million-dollar allowance on this ad?)

What’s odd is that the ad says nothing substantive about Jesus’ views on money. Instead, it manipulates people by referencing Jesus in an ad that’s really about objections to economic policy; it’s a classic example of the unlikely marriage between fiscal conservatives and conservative Christians.

It’s hard to know whether or not the stimulus package will work, let alone what Jesus would have thought of it.

Maybe he would have said something like, “Sell all you possess and distribute it to the poor,” or “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Or he could have looked to Jerusalem’s history for past leaders’ responses to crises. Like when King Jehoash hired carpenters and masons to repair the temple after a period of civil turmoil, or when Nehemiah ended exploitative lending practices and returned peoples’ mortgaged land to them during a famine.


2/28/2009 10:49:14 AM

What would Jesus Do ? After pondering that question , a picture comes to mind of "Ants" . He taught the people many times with pictures . In the book of Proverbs , the wisdom of ants are revealed , like diligence , resourcefulness ,and teamwork . If the adults of this country can employ these ideas , the future will appear bright.

2/23/2009 7:41:01 PM

Easy- he would simply render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's!

sarah thorngate
2/23/2009 2:36:53 PM

Hi Dad. You’re right, the gospels have a lot of money quotes. The point of my post wasn’t to say that we should be basing economic policy decisions on what the Bible says, but that it’s kind of sneaky to use “Jesus” as a buzzword. So no, I don’t think conservative economics is inherently selfish, and the ad raises some good points. But the way the commercial is framed implies that Jesus would have endorsed the message, which I think is a.) patronizing and b.) not true. By “unlikely marriage” I mean that the values and interests of fiscal conservatives and conservative Christians don’t always align, but for political reasons the two groups often have to cater to one another. To me, this ad was an amusing example of that.

marti martin
2/23/2009 12:29:27 PM

I appreciate this snippet immensely, including the links to Biblegateway. Too bad the writers of the ad didn't think to do similar research, but then, that wouldn't have gone along with their agenda very well, would it?

steve thorngate_21
2/23/2009 10:03:49 AM

Ooh, a family fight in e-public! Fun. I'm going to stay out of it, or maybe come back under a false name. For now I'll just say that I agree w/ Bennett: while I'm disappointed that the stimulus bill didn't include more transit funding, I'm DEVASTATED by the complete omission of frankincense.

stephen thorngate
2/21/2009 12:27:39 AM

Or would He have said, "The poor you will always have with you." Or "Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you." I think maybe jesus would say, "You feed them." At any rate, jumping from Jesus birth used to mark time to "What Would Jesus Spend?" seems a rather large leap to me. I'm not sure why you consider fiscal conservatives and conservative Christians "an unlikely marriage." Could it be you're confusing conservative economics with selfishness? And how much of the stimulus package is about feeding the poor? I've heard it said there's a lot of pork in it, but I understand Jesus didn't eat pork.

bennett gordon
2/20/2009 1:12:14 PM

Good point! And really, what were the three wise men bringing but an ancient stimulus package?