The Common Good

The New York Times

The New York Times Press Items
Evangelical leaders, business groups, labor unions and the well-organized young advocates known as Dreamers are ready to urge on deal makers in Congress. Hope is running high. Our big fear is that Mr. Obama and the Republicans are merely getting ready to blame each other if a deal blows up, setting back reform several more years.
More than 40 religious leaders have signed on to a letter they plan to release on Tuesday calling for politicians to take steps quickly to prevent gun violence. The letter is being released by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition formed two years ago, after the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her staff members and constituents outside a shopping mall in Arizona.
In Washington, leaders of a coalition that unites conservative law enforcement officials and clergy with business leaders — they described themselves as “Bibles, badges and business” — held a strategy session Tuesday on how to push for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, which would include “a road to lawful status and citizenship” for 11 million illegal immigrants.
Rabbis for Human Rights – North America and the group Sojourners, led by the Christian author and social-justice advocate Jim Wallis, are unveiling their campaigns on Monday. Their ads will be placed near the anti-jihad ads in the same Manhattan subway stations, leaders of both groups said and transit officials confirmed. The groups said their campaigns were coincidental. Sojourners’ campaigns manager, the Rev. Beau Underwood, said, “An essential tenet of Christianity is to love our neighbors.” He added: “In the face of religious extremism, the best response is to treat others like we would want to be treated. Our ad campaign has a simple message that is at the heart of our faith.” Sojourners, together with some local interfaith communities, recently put up “Love your Muslim neighbors” billboards in Joplin, Mo., where a mosque was burned in August.
When organizers of the 1973 National Prayer Breakfast invited him to address Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and other conservative luminaries (the Vietnam War was a “national sin and disgrace,” he told them), he based his remarks on a text written by a renegade seminarian named Jim Wallis — a former member of Students for a Democratic Society who believed that being “pro-life” meant hating war and poverty as much as abortion.
Some of the nation’s most influential evangelical groups urged a solution to illegal immigration on Tuesday that defies the harsh rhetoric of the Republican primary race, which continues to undermine Mitt Romney’s appeal to Hispanic voters.
In 16 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, Dr. Wink became “one of the most important social and political theologians of the 20th century,” in the words of Sojourners, an ecumenical Christian magazine.In 16 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, Dr. Wink became “one of the most important social and political theologians of the 20th century,” in the words of Sojourners, an ecumenical Christian magazine.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, another religious adviser to Mr. Obama and the president and chief executive of Sojourners, a left-leaning evangelical organization, said that he had fielded calls since the announcement from pastors across the country, including African-American and Hispanic ministers. Religious leaders, he said, are deeply divided, with some seeing it as the government forcing clergy to accept a definition of marriage that they consider anathema to their teachings.
Predictably the media will report the “religious issues” in the coming election as abortion, gay marriage, perhaps evolution and, this year, maybe Mormonism. But a growing number of people from the faith community, especially a younger generation, will also see the alarming Census number on growing poverty rates in America as a fundamental moral and religious issue that every candidate must address. And how they plan to deal with America’s growing economic disparity, now being protested by the Occupy Movement, is likely to be a primary factor in how many in the faith community will vote in the next election.
Scholars like Dr. Collins and Mr. Noll, and publications like Books & Culture, Sojourners and The Christian Century, offer an alternative to the self-anointed leaders. They recognize that the Bible does not condemn evolution and says next to nothing about gay marriage. They understand that Christian theology can incorporate Darwin’s insights and flourish in a pluralistic society.