The Common Good

On the Issues

Abortion
Captial Punishment
Family Values
Gays and Lesbians
War and Peace
Immigration
Economy
Social Security and Health Care
Education
Partisan Politics
The Role of Government
Israel and Palestine

Abortion: What is your position on abortion?

Bible

“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you.” —Isaiah 42:5-6

“The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” —Job 33:4

Value

All life is a sacred gift from God, and public policies should reflect a consistent ethic of life.

Policy

Dramatically reduce abortion. Our society should support common ground policies that dramatically reduce the abortion rate by preventing unwanted pregnancies, providing meaningful alternatives and necessary supports for women and children, and reforming adoption laws.

Further Reading from Sojourners

From Symbol to Substance by Jim Wallis
Women and Children First by Julie Polter
No Place to Stand by Heidi Schlumpf
Pro-Life Democrats? by Jim Wallis
Open Letter to Dennis Kucinich by Danny Duncan Collum
A Civil Discourse by Julie Polter
Finding Common Ground by Naomi Wolf and Frederica Mathewes-Green

 


 

Capital Punishment: What is your position on capital punishment?

Bible

“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you.” —Isaiah 42:5-6

“The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” —Job 33:4

Value

All life is a sacred gift from God, and public policies should reflect a consistent ethic of life.

Policy

End capital punishment. A consistent ethic demands that our nation end capital punishment. We should not take life to punish wrongful death. There is no evidence that it deters murder. It is easy to make fatal mistakes, as DNA testing has shown. The death penalty is biased against the poor, who cannot afford adequate legal representation, and is racially disproportionate.

Further Reading from Sojourners

Crime and Sacrifice by Tobias Winright
Resisting the Death Spiral by Howard Zehr
Dead Certain by Danny Duncan Collum
A Devout Meditation in Memory of Timothy McVeigh by Rose Marie Berger
Arbitrary, Racist, Unfair by John Cole Vodicka
Hard Evidence by Julie Polter
To Die For by Carol Fennelly

 


 

Family Values: What is your position on marriage and family?

Bible

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God.” —Romans 12:2

Value

Strong families are the essential foundation of a good society. A culture that promotes healthy families is necessary to raise our children with strong values.

The divinely intended purposes of sexual intimacy are of course very sacred and deeply satisfying in the context of committed relationships. And the degradation and commodification of sexuality in the media, for purposes of advertising, and in exploitative or manipulative relationships is indeed sin, because it can be so abusive and destructive to the human spirit.— Jim Wallis, Covenantal vs Recreational Sexuality

Policy

Strengthen marriage and families. Our society should commit to policies that promote education and action on reducing teen pregnancy, strengthening marriage and family formation, in-home parenting coaching and support, encouraging responsible fatherhood, preventing the abuse and neglect of children, and reducing and preventing domestic violence. Strengthening families must become a personal and national priority without scapegoating gays and lesbians for the breakdown of the family.

Further Reading from Sojourners

Covenantal vs Recreational Sexuality by Jim Wallis
Managing the Erotic Life by Rose Marie Berger
Family Matters by Julie Polter
Marriage and the Common Good by Jesse Holcomb
Is Marriage Obsolete? by Elizabeth McAlister
Getting Intimate—With God by Sally Schreiner

 


 

Gays and Lesbians: What is your position on gay marriage and same-sex relationships in general?

Bible

"As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,' nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'"--1 Corinthians 12:20-21

Value

“Regardless of what moral or theological positions churches hold regarding gay and lesbian sexual behavior, all Christians can and should unite around a commitment to defend people's basic rights. But the church cannot in good conscience take a passive approach to this question. It is, after all, other Christians who often have taken the lead in this thinly disguised but mean-spirited assault on human dignity. Biblically based Christians who operate out of a more loving and compassionate framework must meet the challenge head-on and forcefully oppose homophobia.

This is not merely a task for those operating out of a liberal theological and political framework. It is especially a challenge to those who have raised biblically based arguments against gay and lesbian involvement in sexual relationships - predominantly in the evangelical and Catholic branches of the church - but who stand for social action on behalf of human rights. In the context of this ongoing, coordinated campaign against human dignity, one cannot simply wax theoretical or try to be neutral. It's time to stand up and be counted.” – When Dignity is Assaulted by Jim Rice

“Christians on both sides of the homosexuality debate need to take responsibility for the ways they've contributed to an environment that leaves gays and lesbians vulnerable to attack. Because the Bible declares that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), we share an equality in our fallenness. Yet gays and lesbians are often singled out as somehow unique among sinners—on the one side, because their "sins" are somehow worse than others' sins; on the other, because anybody who is uncomfortable with homosexuality is seen to be a bigot. …

“There is a need for additional responsible theological and biblical work on the issue of homosexuality. But regardless of our theological assessment of homosexuality, a primary priority for Christians is to love others and defend the scapegoated and marginalized of our society. By working harder to show what is meant by loving others, Christians could resist further polarization of our culture-war-torn society. Volunteering to defend—in word and deed—individuals against gay-bashing may put us into uncomfortable situations with people we disagree with, don't approve of, or otherwise find offensive. Yet this could be a first step in recovering what it means to be a follower of Christ in this age when so many are seeking a positive example of God's love. …

“For Christians to advocate in defense of others' right to life, safety, and security doesn't necessarily mean agreement with their lifestyle, culture, religion, or political beliefs. It has more to do with who "we" are than who "they" are. While the passing of anti-hate-crime legislation that prosecutes attacks on gays and lesbians would be a good thing, it will do very little to prevent such crimes unless Christians and other people of conscience work to change the atmosphere where gays are seen as less than complete human beings with the full civil privileges of other citizens. Gays and lesbians aren't going to go away. Nor are they going to stay away from the church, where—rumor has it—people "love their neighbors as themselves." This is an opportunity to practice what we preach.” — Practicing What We Preach by Aaron Gallegos

We can make sure that long-term gay and lesbian partnerships are afforded legitimate legal protections in a pluralistic society without changing our long-standing and deeply rooted concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman. That should continue to be the theology of the church and the way our society best orders itself.

But do we really want to deny a gay person's right to be at their loved one's deathbed in a hospital with "family restrictions"? Do we also want to deny that person a voice in the medical treatment of his or her partner? And do we really want all the worldly possessions of a deceased gay person to revert to the family who rejected them 30 years ago, instead of going to their partner of the last 20 years? There are fundamental issues of justice and fairness here that can be resolved without a paradigm shift in our basic definition of marriage.” – Gays and Marriage: A Middle Way by Jim Wallis

Policy

Pass anti-hate-crime legislation that prosecutes attacks on gays and lesbians

Ensure that long-term gay and lesbian partnerships are afforded legitimate legal protections, such as ensuring that gay partners are not prevented from hospital visitations by “family restriction” rules, have an appropriate voice in their partner’s medical treatment, and have legal rights in wills and inheritances

Further Reading from Sojourners

Gays and Marriage: A Middle Way by Jim Wallis
Mutual Grace by Amy McDougall and Jake Nyberg
Many Members, One Body by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
Why the Evangelical Church Needs the Liberal Church by Richard Mouw
Why the Liberal Church Needs the Evangelical Church by Barbara Wheeler
Holding It Together by Tony and Peggy Campolo
Practicing What We Preach by Aaron Gallegos
When Dignity is Assaulted by Jim Rice
What I Learned When I Opened My Mouth About Gay Rights by Chris Rice

 


 

War and Peace: Why do you oppose the war in Iraq but support U.N. peacekeeping forces in Darfur? Aren’t both uses of military force? Are you pacifists or supporters of just war doctrine? Isn’t it naive to think we can fight terrorism with nonviolence?

Bible

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” —Isaiah 2:4

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” —Matthew 5:9

Value

Our world faces a major challenge of how to resolve conflicts, reduce violence, and defeat terrorism without preemptive war. War has become a first resort instead of the last resort. In a world with terrorists, terrorist states, unilateralist superpowers, and weapons of mass destruction, alternatives to an endless cycle of violence are needed.

Policy

Bring peace to Iraq. Our nation should support a policy of phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq that starts immediately and includes disavowing plans for permanent military bases, giving up preferential treatment for American companies in the reconstruction, and waiving proprietary interests in Iraq oil profits. These steps would lead to genuine international participation in safeguarding Iraq’s security and rebuilding.

Stop genocide. In Darfur and other countries around the world, persecution and mass killing continues. International peacekeeping forces under the United Nations that can protect and save lives should be supported and strengthened.

Darfur. The genocide in Darfur continues to weigh heavily on our hearts. After four years of bloodshed and protracted suffering, the world has failed to muster the moral and political will to end the genocide. Deadlines have come and gone. Strong political statements and rhetoric have not been matched with equally strong political, economic, and diplomatic pressure to bring an end to this bloodshed. Despite this political failure, we are also deeply encouraged by the broad spectrum of Christians who are speaking out together on this issue.

Eliminate nuclear weapons. Our nation should support the elimination of all nuclear weapons. As they have pledged under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the U.S. and other nuclear powers should take steps toward eliminating nuclear arsenals. Countries seeking nuclear weapons, such as Iran and North Korea, must be dealt with through diplomatic negotiations with real pressures and effective incentives rather than by threats of military attack.

Iran. Our scriptures call us to avoid war and to live as peaceably as possible with all. They teach us always to seek better ways to resolve our problems and conflicts. We reaffirm our religious hope for a world in which “nation shall not lift up sword against nation.” We pray that our government will be guided by moral principles, political wisdom, and international legal standards and will step back from seeing military action as an option in this crisis. We call on all our religious leaders, theologians, clergy, and laypersons to speak out against the option of war with Iran. The moral wisdom of many religious leaders and the pragmatic warnings of many military leaders now offer a common message: words, not war, with Iran.

Strengthen the United Nations and international law to fight terrorism. The United Nations should be adequately funded so that it can be both strengthened and reformed. Our nation should support policies that choose multinational cooperation under the rule of international law and institutions over unilateral preemptive wars to resolve international conflicts. Extensive international and diplomatic pressure is needed to dismantle networks of terror y focusing the world’s intelligence capabilities, security ystems, legal intervention, multinational policing, and swift international law enforcement against terrorism.

Further Reading from Sojourners

Just? Unjust? by George Lopez
'War on Terror' or Real Security? by David Cortright and George A. Lopez
Dangerous Religion by Jim Wallis
The Project for a New American Empire by Duane Shank

Iraq. The war with Iraq was not a war of last or only resort, or the best way to deal with the real threats offered by Saddam Hussein. There were other alternatives possible—even some non-administration hawks thought that the “ six-point plan” led by some American religious leaders and released by Sojourners in March 2003 should have been tried—and they were simply not seriously considered by the Bush administration. And it is now undeniably true that this administration lied about the facts in Iraq and consistently manipulated intelligence to justify going to war -- “ If All You Have is a Hammer,” by Jim Wallis

Sojourners joined with thousands of others in candlelight vigils around the globe to show the world’s resistance to war. On the one and two-year anniversaries of the invasion, Sojourners organized vigils to demonstrate that people of faith still objected to this war. In March 2007, after four years of bloodshed, Sojourners helped organize a Christian Peace Witness that issued an urgent call to action to honor the lives lost in war and to advance the imperative for peace.

U.S. citizens have also suffered on the domestic front, as crucial domestic programs that benefit low-income families have been threatened in the president’s budget and the already-ballooning national deficit has swelled to compensate for the cost of war.

A plan for the successful withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq has three required elements. First, the United States must disavow any plans for permanent military bases and promise to close the bases already built. Second, the United States must give up preferential treatment for American companies in the reconstruction, while continuing necessary and appropriate American aid, allowing the new Iraqi government to make its own decisions about who will rebuild their country. Third, the United States must give up any proprietary interests in Iraq oil profits.

 


 

Immigration: What do you think about immigration reform? How do we keep our borders safe?

Bible

  • We believe that all people, regardless of national origin, are made in the "image of God" and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6).
  • We believe there is an undeniable biblical responsibility to love and show compassion for the stranger among us (Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25:31-46).
  • We believe that immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to neighbors in need (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37).
  • We believe in the rule of law, but we also believe that we are to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God's image, especially the vulnerable (Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7).

[from Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform]

Value

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform represents a coalition of Christian organizations, churches, and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum united in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Despite our differences on other issues, we are working together to see comprehensive immigration reform enacted this year because we share a set of common moral and theological principles that compel us to love and care for the stranger among us. [Candidates Briefing Booklet]

Establish humane and holistic immigration policies. Immigration policies should be both compassionate and just. It is important to make our borders secure, but we should do so in humane and realistic ways. Immigration policies should establish a dignified guest worker program that can lead to earned citizenship. Individuals and families already living in the U.S. and working hard should have the option to apply for permanent legal status and eventual citizenship.—“Voting God’s Politics” Issues Guide

The current U.S. immigration system is broken and now is the time for a fair and compassionate solution. We think it is entirely possible to protect our borders while establishing a viable, humane, and realistic immigration system, one that is consistent with our American values and increases national security while protecting the livelihood of Americans. Immigration reform that incorporates these elements, rejects anti-immigrant and nativist measures, and strengthens our American values will enrich the vitality of America and advance the common good. We stand together in calling upon President Obama and Congress to seek humane and holistic immigration reform.

Policy

The biblical principles above call us to support comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes the following elements:

  • Border enforcement and protection initiatives that are consistent with humanitarian values while allowing the authorities to enforce the law and implement American immigration policy;
  • Reforms in our family-based immigration system that reduce the waiting time for separated families to be safely reunited and maintain the constitutionally guaranteed rights of birthright citizenship and the ability of immigrants to earn naturalization;
  • An opportunity for all immigrant workers and their families already in the U.S. to come out of the shadows and pursue the option of an earned path towards permanent legal status and citizenship upon satisfaction of specific criteria;
  • A viable guest worker program that creates legal avenues for workers and their families to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner with their rights and due process fully protected and provides an option for workers to maintain legal status independent of an employer sponsor; and
  • A framework to examine and ascertain solutions to the root causes of migration, such as economic disparities between sending and receiving nations.

Further Reading from Sojourners

Justice for Immigrants by Jeff Carr
It’s About Being Human by Aaron Gallegos
Looking for Welcome Helene Slesserev Jamir
The New 'New South' by Jorge Mariscal
Aliens or immigrants? by Bethany Spicher
A pilgrimage of hope and life along the U.S.-Mexico border by Judy Coode
Men With Guns by James Reel

 


 

Economy: What your position on the domestic economy and taxes?

Value

Budgets are moral documents. Budgets are moral documents that reflect the values and priorities of a family, church, organization, city, state, or nation. Examining budget priorities is a moral and religious concern. Our political leadership’s tax cut mentality ignores “the least of these”—leaving them with crumbs from the feast of the comfortable. And it does nothing to help our deficit problems. Religious communities spoke clearly in recent years about the perils of a domestic policy based primarily on tax cuts for the rich, program cuts for low-income people, and an expectation of faith-based charity. We speak clearly against budget proposals asking that the cost of the deficit be borne by the poor, who are not to blame and can least afford it.

Further Reading from Sojourners

Taxes:

The Lawyer, the Bible, and the Governor An interview with Susan Pace Hamill
Shrink, Shift, Shaft by Chuck Collins
Class Warfare by Jim Wallis
The War at Home by Duane Shank
Tax the Rich? by William H. Gates Sr. and Chuck Collins

Economy/Jobs :

Making Work Work by Tamara Draut, Paul H. Sherry, Gordon Bonnyman, Joan Fitzgerald, and Jill Suzanne Shook
Lean and Downright Mean by David Batstone
Amos and WorldCom by Jim Wallis
Laboring for Justice by Kim Bobo
Jesus Visits the Hamptons by Will Willimon

 


 

Social Security and Health Care: Can we really afford to offer health care to everyone? Isn’t the social security system weighing down our national budget?

Bible

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land..." – Exodus 20:12

“Some day there will be a king who rules with integrity, and national leaders who govern with justice.… Their eyes and ears will be open to the needs of the people.” —Isaiah 32:1-3

Value

To guarantee the health of Social Security will not be easy. It will require our best bipartisan thinking and collaboration. The discussion about Social Security should raise fundamental moral questions about government and the common good, and be an opportunity to lift up our commitment to all our neighbors. But that hasn’t been the case so far. There is no trust more sacred to biblical faith than the injunction to care not only for our immediate families but also the larger family of all humanity. We are commanded to “Honor your father and your mother,” and care for those in need.

The discussion about Social Security should raise fundamental moral questions about government and the common good, and be an opportunity to lift up our commitment to all our neighbors. But that hasn't been the case so far.

There is no trust more sacred to biblical faith than the injunctions to care not only for our immediate families but also the larger family of all humanity. We are commanded to "Honor your father and your mother," and care for those in need.

Social Security is a covenant for the common good, and I hope you'll join us in strengthening that commitment. We can lift a vision and voice for better priorities from Washington. – Jim Wallis, Social Security: A Covenant for the Common Good

Policy

  • Social Security benefits for the vulnerable and less fortunate should not be reduced. Biblical faith calls us to care for widows and orphans, the ill and disabled, low-income elderly, and children. Social Security has been one of the most successful anti-poverty programs our country has known. But the needs of the less fortunate are missing from the debate.
  • Social Security retirement benefits should be strengthened and protected from risk. A constant biblical theme is that the well-being of our parents and the next generation is spiritually connected to our own.We must “honor thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12) by not gambling with their future.
  • Private accounts created by reducing benefits should be opposed. Private accounts “carved out” from the existing benefit structure risk Social Security’s basic guarantee, and do not address the long-term health of the program. Changes to benefits may be necessary to strengthen Social Security for all , but these should be measurable and defined.
  • Future generations should not be burdened by deficits and misguided budget decisions. Many proposals do nothing to promote the long-term stability of Social Security, and there has been little discussion of how they would affect the deficit. Social Security cannot be addressed in a vacuum without regard for budget and tax choices that are contrary to the common good.
  • Retirement planning should not be restricted to Social Security. A stable retirement consists of a three-legged stool: Social Security, personal savings, and employer pensions. We encourage consideration of proposals to supplement, but not replace, Social Security; that help low- and middle-income families save more; and strengthen and make

Further Reading from Sojourners

Honor Your Father and Your Mother by Jim Wallis
Budgets, Social Security, and the Common Good by Yonce Shelton
Privatizing Social Security by Harry C. Kiely
Privatizing Medicare by Harry C. Kiely
'A Place of Peace and Rest' by Emily Dossett
Healing the Sick and the System by Emily Dossett

 


 

Education: Do you support vouchers?

Value

The proper goal of education reform is not to remove a few children from failing schools, but to create the opportunity for all children to receive a quality education. For that to succeed, we'll need a panoply of approaches—that will include vouchers, to be sure, but also more resources for our public schools, and significant and promising innovations such as charter schools. Perhaps what the court has given us is a teachable moment. Let's pray we use it.—Jim Rice A Victory for Vouchers - But Who Wins?

While our public education system needs improvement, most of our nation’s school systems are working and working well. It is mainly schools in areas of deep poverty—our largest inner cities and some depressed rural areas—that are not. And the fundamental reason is the economic condition of many children in those areas.

A recent editorial in Business Week noted, "The crisis in education is as much a social and economic problem as it is a teaching problem." The best way to fix our education system is to fix the problems in our society that underlie it. A society with hunger and homelessness, broken families and domestic abuse, and continued racial segregation in housing patterns is not likely to have a quality educational system. While we experiment with different ways of providing a quality education, the fundamental change must be in overcoming poverty. Only when children are granted the basic necessities of life, and when we rebuild our families and communities, will they truly receive a quality education.—Duane Shank The (Church and) State of Our Schools

Policy

What vouchers do is provide hope—and the chance at a decent education—for a few families that might otherwise not be able to afford such options. What vouchers don't—and can't—do is fix what ails the system of public education in this country. …

Vouchers bring together—and push apart—some remarkable political and racial coalitions, and both parties are running to drive the wedge as deep as possible—but carefully, since there's a real danger of political recoil if the issue isn't played right. Republicans love vouchers, partly because they can be seen as responding to the desires of inner-city (read: black) parents (read: voters) without actually doing anything about the root causes of poverty, crime, or—more to the point—failing schools. Democrats hate vouchers because—well, mainly because they fear the teachers' unions. And on this issue, the unions are wrong.

Reform of our education system will take many forms, including some as-yet-untried innovations. Some forward-looking educators have advocated a radical restructuring of how we set up—and fund—our metropolitan school districts, so that kids aren't punished for having poor parents and living in a low-tax-base part of town.—Jim Rice A Victory for Vouchers - But Who Wins?

Further Reading from Sojourners

A Victory for Vouchers - But Who Wins? by Jim Rice
Will This Be on the Test? by David Shapiro
No Shortcuts to Excellence by Gregory Fritzberg
The (Church and) State of Our Schools by Duane Shank

 


 

Partisan Politics: You said “God is Not a Republican or a Democrat” but I think Sojourners really favors Democrats. Why do you favor Democrats?

Bible

“Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” —Proverbs 31:9

Value

Christians have a moral and civic responsibility to participate in the political life of society. We must, however, remember that God is not a Republican or a Democrat, and prayerfully measure the policies of all candidates against a range of Christian ethics and values. Our broad set of Christian values should inform our political decisions. While we must be careful about translating scripture directly into positions on public policy, we can develop principles and policies that provide a critical framework for shaping our perspective on public policy and political leadership.

Further Reading from Sojourners

Scared to Talk Politics in Church? by Brian McLaren
Democracy in the Balance by Bill Moyers
Color Lines and Party Lines by Danny Duncan Collum
Take Back the Faith by Jim Wallis
Quiz the Candidates, Then Vote! by R. Carter Echols

 


 

The Role of Government: Why do you think government should solve social problems? Isn’t that the role of the church?

Value

“This divide between individual and social responsibility is a relatively recent phenomenon in our politics. The Bush emphasis on self-improvement and self-control was once intimately linked to the cause of social reform itself. Many of those who favored the prohibition of alcohol in the last century did not see it as an alternative to social reconstruction. On the contrary, it was a vital movement for social reconstruction that encompassed women's rights and economic independence, reform of trade agreements and governing structures, protection of local community values, as well as reform of individuals.

“Social justice requires economic support from government, a concern for family life, and serious efforts to strengthen community institutions and to restore public order. Religious progressives may find their vocation in insisting that our society needs to grapple with each of these issues. At the heart of their arguments should be two principles: Compassion is good, but justice is better. And while government certainly cannot solve all problems, what government does—and fails to do—still matters enormously.” —E.J. Dionne The Overlooked Schism

Government is not the first solution to every social problem. Other institutions—family, church, schools, business, unions—all have obligations to address societal issues. In each case, we need to ask what institution in society and what level of that institution can best solve a particular problem.

But government has a role. Frequently the state contributes to the common good by encouraging and enabling other institutions in the community—whether family, church, nongovernmental social agencies, or unions—to carry out their responsibilities to care for the economically dependent. The objective of the state, how-ever, is not merely to maintain equilibrium of power in society. Its purpose is not merely to enable other groups in the society to carry out their tasks. The state has a positive responsibility to foster justice.—Ron Sider For the Common Good

There is a biblical role for the state, just as there is for the church. And they are not the same. According to Romans 13, the state is supposed to uphold the rule of law by protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty. It suggests a clear role for the government in ensuring the common good. And when the state fulfills its role properly, it allows the church to do its work in the world. The church must become "bilingual" in speaking the evangelistic message of the kingdom of God to all that will hear and also speaking to the state about its role and responsibilities. Justice, equity, and fairness are biblical concerns for the Christian community and standards to which the government should be held to account. —Jim Wallis All Hands On Deck

Policy

There is a principle of Catholic social teaching that can serve as a guide—it's called subsidiarity. "Subsidiarity" simply means that issues should be addressed first by the "competent authority" closest to the problem. But the same Catholic teaching says, "Larger government structures do have a role when greater social coordination and regulation are necessary for the common good."—Jim Wallis All Hands On Deck

Further Reading

All Hands On Deck by Jim Wallis
For the Common Good by Ronald J. Sider
The Overlooked Schism by E.J. Dionne

 


 

Israel and Palestine:  Doesn’t Israel have the right to defend itself against terrorism? And, from the other side: Do you oppose Israeli occupation of Palestine and support a Palestinian state?

Value

Peace and restraint of violence. Our world faces a major challenge of how to resolve conflicts, reduce violence, and defeat terrorism without preemptive war. War has become a first resort instead of the last resort. In a world with terrorists, terrorist states, unilateralist superpowers, and weapons of mass destruction, alternatives to an endless cycle of violence are needed.

Policy

Support security and freedom in the Middle East. The U.S. should adopt a policy of fair and even treatment that supports the interests of two states for Israel and Palestine, living in security and freedom. Policies should oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and support an end to settlements. All acts of terrorism must be unequivocally condemned. A real solution must include a Palestinian leadership that rejects terrorism and supports the secure existence of Israel, and an Israeli leadership that grants security and sovereignty to Palestinians.

Further Reading from Sojourners

The Urgency of Middle East Peace by Jim Wallis
Against Impossible Odds, by Jim Wallis
The Narrow Gate to Peace, by Jeff Halper
Nonviolence is Our Only Hope, by Jim Rice
The Pilot Who Said No, by Robert Hirschfield
Tanks vs. Olive Branches: An interview with Hanan Ashrawi
Should Churches Divest? The Presbyterian Church (USA): A case study, by Don Wagner
Is Divestment Anti-Semitic? by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak
A Question of Tactics, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
‘I Never Lose Hope’: An interview with Palestinian theologian Rev. Naim Ateek
The Body of Christ in Lebanon, by Jim Wallis
Hope Amid the Ruins, by Jim Rice