What Would Jesus Do to Stimulate the Economy?

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“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.

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