The Common Good

The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor Press Items
US mainline churches have been riven by the debate for years. For most Christian churches, unity is part of the fundamental witness of Christian life, and the prospect of any further splintering within the body of Christ is anathema. Yet the cost of unity is the issue troubling many.
Monday's prisoner release came amid Palestinian criticism of the Israeli cabinet's approval of a revised route for the West Bank separation barrier. The new route encompasses less West Bank land than the original path in deference to an Israeli supreme court ruling, yet it takes in the several settlement blocs.
"We're now in a debate for the heart and soul of what it means to be religious and political," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a liberal Evangelical who just finished an antipoverty bus tour to 15 cities.
"The political right and political left have agreed that religion equals the religious right. The right has done this because they want to own the issue, and some on the left have done this because they almost want to dismiss the issue," says Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners, a magazine covering faith and politics.
"We have a broad spectrum in the churches saying that issues like poverty, the environment, a just foreign policy, an unjust war, these are religious issues and must be issues in this campaign."
"How we respond to this threat will shape the kind of people we're going to be. And that's the moral question. How do you not become something terrible in your response to something terrible?" asks Jim Wallis, cofounder of Sojourners, a Christian ministry that focuses on justice and peace.
If all goes according to our timetable, in only a few more months Americans will be waking up to universal healthcare, hockey as the national pastime, and the whole country will be walking around saying, "How's it goin', eh?"
The site of the Sojourners community ( has had a sevenfold increase in visitors since Sept. 11.
"We also need to dig deeper for religious wisdom and the spiritual insight to guide our responses," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, head of Call to Renewal.
When Jim Wallis was a theology student in Chicago in the 1960s, he and a few classmates gave themselves an unusual assignment: Count every biblical mention of wealth and poverty. They found several thousand verses in the Old Testament, making it the second-most prominent theme after idolatry. In the New Testament, 1 of every 16 verses focuses on the subject; in the Gospel of Luke, 1 in 7.