The New York Times Press Items
When 10 Republican presidential candidates assemble on a stage Tuesday night in South Carolina for their second debate, viewers will get a reminder of how the sheer size of the field in both parties limits the opportunities for probing questioning.
But one organization is trying to draw a line. Sojourners, a liberal Christian organization, will sponsor a Democratic presidential forum, but has invited just three of the nine Democratic contenders — Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards – based on their double-digit standings in national polls.
Immigration “for us is a religious issue, a biblical issue,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of a liberal evangelical group, Call to Renewal, and a member of the coalition. “We call it welcoming the stranger.”
By Mr. Silk’s definition, the ideal candidate for Riverside’s pulpit might be the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the religious social-action group Sojourners and author of such books as “God’s Politics.” Unfortunately for Riverside, and revealingly for mainline Protestantism’s dilemma, this leading liberal minister happens to be an evangelical Christian.
His embrace of faith was a sharp change for a man whose family offered him something of a crash course in comparative religion but no belief to call his own. ''He comes from a very secular, skeptical family,'' said Jim Wallis, a Christian antipoverty activist and longtime friend of Mr. Obama. ''His faith is really a personal and an adult choice. His is a conversion story.''
WASHINGTON, March 17 — Thousands of demonstrators marched to the Pentagon on Saturday to mark both the fourth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq and the 40th anniversary of the march along the same route to protest the Vietnam War.
The march coincided with other demonstrations in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere in advance of the March 20 anniversary of the invasion. The liberal group MoveOn.org has held many small protest vigils around the country. And in Washington on Friday night a coalition of liberal Christian groups, including Sojourners/Call to Renewal, led several thousand people in a march that began with a service at the National Cathedral. More than 200 participants were arrested praying in front of the White House, the police said.
“Politics is failing to solve all the big issues,” said Jim Wallis, who wrote “God’s Politics” and runs Sojourners, which pushes social justice issues. “So when that happens, social movements rise up.”
Initiatives by liberals have been percolating locally and nationally, from state interfaith alliances in Ohio to counter a powerful conservative Christian movement there to national campaigns to reduce poverty led by liberal evangelicals like the Rev. Jim Wallis.
TODAY, on Easter, evangelical Christians can celebrate knowing that they are part of a movement that has never been so powerful or so large. But like any dominating force, evangelicalism is not monolithic, and it seems that now, at a time of heightened power, old fissures are widening, and new theological and political splits are developing.
Shane Claiborne says that: "When you ask people what they think about church, it's sad. But Jesus doesn't have the bad reputation that Christianity has. "What we do looks extreme because it's an indictment of the idea of Christianity that so many of us have settled for. When we look at the early church, it was very revolutionary. Jesus sat down to rethink revolution. He was able to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free."
For starters, we'll see more attempts to draw a direct line from the Bible to a political agenda. The Rev. Jim Wallis, a popular adviser to leading Democrats and an organizer of the Berkeley meeting, routinely engages in this kind of Bible-thumping. In his book "God's Politics," Mr. Wallis insists that his faith-based platform transcends partisan categories.