National Catholic Reporter Press Items
But liberal faith leaders said they have little interest in securing White House sinecures, and even less in forming a political machine to match the religious right. They're more concerned, they say, in keeping Obama honest.
"Let's put it this way," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leading progressive evangelical, "the prophets of God were always more comfortable in the wilderness than in the corridors of power."
The Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder and CEO of Sojourners:
I think the language of the platform on abortion is a real step forward. The platform committee really reached out to leaders of the evangelical and Catholic communities and elsewhere and I think it’s some sorely needed common ground on abortion.
New language in the Democratic Party Platform seeking a reduction in the number of abortions was hailed this week by a panel of religious and legal experts, including two long-time Republican opponents of abortion, as “historic,” and “courageous.” The new plank, the panelists said, provides “common ground” for all sides in the debate to work to lower the number of abortions. The panel was assembled by Sojourner’s, a network of progressive Christians, and the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder and CEO, said that while the language was “a real step forward” it was a compromise with a party that still maintains unqualified support for Roe v. Wade.
Against the forces that gave Americans “value voters” and a politics defined by opposition to abortion, stem-cell research and gay marriage, a counterforce was gathering. Groups and individuals who felt their faith was misrepresented in the public square began to mobilize, from Sojourner’s Jim Wallis, to other progressive evangelicals to Catholic social justice lobbyists and peace activists.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners community in Washington, an expert in the new electoral dynamics, and one of the architects of a broader religious/political conversation, attributes the changes to nothing less than “the Spirit.”
Jim Wallis, editor in chief of Sojourners magazine, said a movement is already underway. As the title of his new book asserts, he thinks people of faith in America are experiencing a Great Awakening.
By early 2007, the Rev. Jim Wallis, left-of-center evangelical minister and founder of Sojourners magazine, was writing in TIME: “The monologue of the religious right is over, and a new dialogue has now begun.”
Supporters of the change range from Gloria Steinem on the left through progressive Christian leader Jim Wallis to evangelical and Southern Baptist leaders on the right.
The Casey race, and others like it around the country, “resolves that argument,” said Green. “I expect to see a lot more discussion of this and a lot more Democratic candidates who adopt this approach. The Democrats learned a lesson and they adjusted.” The lesson is clear to Jeff Carr, chief operating officer of Sojourners, a liberal evangelical social justice organization. “Those who said the Democrats need to stay away from religion were wrong,” said Carr. The “big losers” in the 2006 election, he concluded, were “the secular left and the religious right
The zeitgeist of our national politics may have finally arrived at a place where Mr. Wallis' words will be heard as never before. Or as the saying goes, 'When the student is ready, the lesson appears.' Students from the left and the right may be ready for Mr. Wallis' lesson for the first time in 30 years.