The Common Good


Beliefnet Press Items
“Many of us feel that our faith has been stolen, and it’s time to take it back,” writes Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine. “An enormous public misrepresentation of Christianity has taken place. Many people around the world now think Christian faith stands for political commitments that are almost the opposite of its true meaning. How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war, and pro-American? And how do we get back to a historic, biblical, and genuinely evangelical faith rescued from its contemporary distortions?
"The basic concern about the poor and preventing budget cuts is not a new concern," said John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. "They're just more vocal and active about it than they have been in a long time." On Dec. 14, 114 activists convened by Call to Renewal, a progressive Christian anti-poverty group, were arrested outside the U.S. Capitol in a peaceful protest against the budget. Such a direct confrontation over the budget was a new strategy for activists, and it got them noticed.
Religion reporters increasingly hear from Christian groups advocating positions that are politically more aligned with Democrats than Republicans, particularly on the environment, immigration and health care reform.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, founder and president of the anti-poverty group Sojourners, was among faith leaders calling for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the legislation. "This law is a social sin, and would make it illegal for the faith community of Arizona to extend God's love and charity to some of our most vulnerable neighbors," he said.
What are the biggest changes you see in evangelicalism in the last century? Notable evangelicals aside, of course. I don't know the history of all of this, and I know the Methodists have been much more balanced than many others, but when I came of age the voices that were rattling the evangelical cage about developing a social conscience included Jim Wallis and Ronald Sider and Tony Campolo. There are others, and I would say the Moral Majority and Religious Right must be included in the development of a social conscience, but these come to mind for me.
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Director, Sojourners. Sojourners is a progressive evangelical organization that has been a longstanding voice for poverty reduction, peace, and the environment. Wallis' book, God's Politics, stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for 4 months.
Proud of our students at NPU. (Just had to do that.) Tony Stiff continues the discussion on the missional movement: oak tree or banyan tree? Jim Wallis with Sally Quinn. Did you listen to this? Any thoughts? The emerging movement -- in Australian perspective -- and I can think of yet more elements of that sketch of Mark's. Any thought? Hey, not bad for a medical doctor! (Ha.)
Yesterday another coalition of center-right Christians calling itself the Poverty Forum rolled out its multi-point plan aimed at lessening the toll of poverty in America. The Forum's primary organizers, Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, and PolicyLink founder Angela Glover Blackwell, claim that their approaches to key issue areas are embraced across the religious spectrum from left to right. The problem is that the spectrum they are talking about runs the gamut from A to B, if I may borrow Dorothy Parker's apt formula. Conservatives on Poverty Forum issue panels were anything but shy in proclaiming their views victorious.
I think we may have just seen an example of this in a new group formed by Michael J. Gerson, President George W. Bush's chief speechwriter, and Jim Wallis, the progressive evangelical leader. They pulled together a collection of seriously divergent policymakers -- many motivated by the Biblical injunction to help the poor -- locked them in rooms and told them not to come out until they'd agreed on something.
Also, the new office will be run by Obama's campaign religious outreach director, Joshua Dubois, making it less likely that the efforts truly unite red, blue and purple believers. He's surely a talented man but had George W. Bush appointed a panel made up mostly of conservative clergy, reporting to, say, Ralph Reed, wouldn't progressives be skeptical? Interesting takes from: Jim Wallis (thrilled that "the elimination of poverty and the reduction of abortion are central goals")