The Common Good

Christianity Today

Christianity Today Press Items
President George W. Bush's former speechwriter Michael Gerson called it "an orgy of strange bedfellows" as he and Sojourners founder Jim Wallis launched the Poverty Forum, a shared commitment to help the poor during an international financial crisis.
Fourth, the newly created advisory council is a sign of hope. Fifteen members have been named, with up to ten more to be announced. Four of the initial members are recognized evangelicals: Richard Stearns, president of World Vision; Jim Wallis of Sojourners; Frank Page, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and pastor Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Longwood, Florida. The council will advise broadly on foreign and domestic policy, and will be able to hold hearings and issue reports and recommendations. It has the potential to become a major force.
I also wrote a story addressing the issue of whether groups can discriminate based on faith in their hiring practices. I spoke with Doug Koopman, co-author of a book on Bush's office, who was concerned about how the office has set new priorities rather than receiving them from the organizations. Joel Hunter and Jim Wallis, two members of the council, told me about the executive order yesterday.
He also announced members of a new advisory council, including the following evangelicals: Southern Baptist Convention former president Frank S. Page, Florida megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter, and Sojourners president Jim Wallis.
The office will focus on reducing poverty, reducing the need for abortion, encouraging responsible fatherhood, and working with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue around the world. Evangelicals on the 25-member advisory council include president of World Vision Richard Stearns, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Frank S. Page, Florida megachurch pastor Joel C. Hunter, and president of Sojourners Jim Wallis.
In a recent telephone press conference, several evangelicals crowed about how interested the Democratic Platform Committee was in their opinion on abortion. “The platform committee reached out to us deliberately,” said Jim Wallis. “They were really seeking what evangelicals and Catholic leaders felt about this.” “There was a sense that both the policy people with the Obama campaign and the platform committee draft people took seriously and responsibly what Catholics and evangelicals had to say,” said Tony Campolo, who served on the committee. “They listened. They took us seriously.”
Every pastor in America is just dying to tell their congregations how to vote. It happens every election season, but particularly during the presidential quadrennial. This yearning to lobby one's flock doesn't surprise me — it tempted me when I was a pastor. What did surprise me was a report that said 31 pastors in 22 states this past Sunday endorsed a candidate from their pulpits.
Evangelicals like Jim Wallis and Joel Hunter quickly praised the new Democratic platform on abortion a month ago, but Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput is not impressed.
Only 37 percent of Americans say the Democratic Party is friendly toward religion, compared with 40 percent who said the same in 2004. The number of evangelicals registered as Democrats rose slightly from 28 percent in 2004 to 30 percent this year. For the first time, an interfaith gathering will mark the official opening of the Democrats' convention week on Sunday. The party will also hold four forums for people of faith, two of which will be moderated by Sojourners head Jim Wallis.
"The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper," asserts Jim Wallis in his new book, The Great Awakening, "engaging issues such as poverty and economic justice, global warming, hiv/aids, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur, and the ethics of the war in Iraq."