The Huffington Post Press Items
That is why Glenn Beck's comments that social justice in a church can be equated with Nazism or Communism is also repugnant to the sane Christian. The responses to Beck were swift and wide, from Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mainline all of whom rejected Beck's unhealthy vision for Christianity. Were the Christian church to forsake its mission to create a world that reflects Jesus' teachings in Matthew 25 and Luke 4, it would lose much of its reason for being -the church would become a sick and useless institution indeed.
Glenn Beck and Jim Wallis got into this debate over the last few days, and because Jim actually knows something about the Bible, he easily won the debate. Beck's classic conspiracy-minded starting point -- that because both Nazis and Communists have used the phrase "social justice", that any religion that uses the term must be bad too -- has a similar logic to saying that if a really bad teacher said two plus two equals four, because he or she was a bad teacher it must be false.
As covered in the invaluable National Catholic Reporter, signers, such as Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, and Stephen F. Schneck of the Catholic University of America, express the views of millions of pro-life Catholics and Protestants who identify with a deep tradition of religious social reform.
Christian author and social justice advocate Rev. Jim Wallis appeared on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" Friday evening to talk about Glenn Beck's recent attack on churches and religious leaders who preach social justice.
And evangelical organizations like World Vision, Jim Wallis's Sojourners network, Ron Sider's Evangelicals for Social Action, Tony Compolo's Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, and even Messiah College, the institution where I teach, advocate for the poor and work tirelessly on their behalf. Still and all, benevolence typically takes a back seat to preaching, mission work, and evangelism in most evangelical churches, since a "personal relationship with Jesus" and saving souls almost always trumps the saving of human lives--especially the lives of the poor--in the here and now.
The bloggers who will be posting on HuffPost Religion will be a great mix of religious heavyweights and up-and-coming voices in the field. Today's thought-provoking lineup includes Rev. Jim Wallis on the spiritual crisis of the recession; Deepak Chopra on the continued importance of spirituality; Eboo Patel on the crucial importance of interfaith relations; Sister Joan Chittister on the future of the Roman Catholic Church; Rabbi Or Rose on the role of religion when it comes to the environment; Dr. Eddie Glaude on the declining power of the Black Church; Sharon Salzberg on Buddhism's "middle way"; Brian McLaren on 'new Evangelicals'; and Steven Barrie Anthony on technology and spirituality.
On his God's Politics blog, Jim Wallis posted "Rules for Christian Civility," saying we should "not attack our fellow Christians as Democratic or Republican partisans, but rather expect and respect the practice of putting our faith first ... even if we reach different conclusions." Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan spoke out in her recent book, Patriotic Grace. "What we need most right now, at this moment, is a kind of patriotic grace," she writes. "A grace that takes the long view, apprehends the moment we're in, comes up with ways of dealing with it, and eschews the politically cheap and manipulative."
How we, as individuals and as a country, deal with our money and our economy are moral questions. Rev. Jim Wallis is fond of saying that the United States budget is a moral document, but our national and our personal economic choices are also moral decisions.
Prominent interfaith leaders today called on Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, calling it a "moral imperative" and a civil and human right. The diverse group included Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Dr. Joseph Fahey of Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, Bishop Greg Rickel of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, former Executive Director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. Leaders of the new group, called Faith Leaders for Workplace Fairness, spoke on a conference call for press moderated by Kim Bobo of Interfaith Worker Justice.
Certainly, not everyone who wants to "protect unborn life" feels this way. Some leaders -- most notably evangelical pastor Jim Wallis -- have publicly talked about the link between birth control and avoiding unwanted pregnancies. I have to assume that they care more about reducing abortions than they do about reducing the number of unmarried people who have sex.