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Religion and Politics Press Items
This rhetorical theme isn’t limited to television. In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama addressed a conference hosted by the Christian social justice organization Sojourners. In addition to describing his own spiritual journey, Obama also questioned the biblical invocations of conservative leaders, asking, “Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination?”
A recent PRRI survey shows that now a majority (56 percent) of white evangelical Protestants support a path to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States illegally, provided they meet certain requirements. In 2012, a group of evangelical faith leaders founded the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) with the goal of pressuring Congress to pass a bipartisan solution for immigration reform. EIT is comprised of an unusually diverse coalition, including more conservative groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals as well as more progressive-leaning organizations like Sojourners.
Both Republicans and Democrats have a religion problem, and it has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, abortion, or religious liberty. Rather, their serious stumbling blocks are budgets, deficits, and debt-ceiling deadlines.
The first time Harkins met the president was six years ago, when then-Senator Obama gave his Call to Renewal speech—perhaps his most openly Christian public address—at Washington’s National City Christian Church. “If we truly hope to speak to people where they’re at, to communicate our hopes and values in a way that’s relevant to their own,” Obama said, “then as progressives, we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse.” At the time, Harkins was on the board of the progressive evangelical organization Sojourners, which was hosting the conference. From the pews, he listened carefully as the young congressman outlined how his Christian commitments informed his progressive agenda. “Even then, when people were just beginning to buzz about his possibly running for president, I was struck by the depth and authenticity of his own understanding of his personal faith,” Harkins recalls.
“You cannot explain English-speaking evangelicalism in the 20th century without crucial reference to the massive influence of John Stott,” Albert Mohler, the conservative president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Christianity Today. “Both his keen intellect and his deeply authentic spirit made a powerful impact on me,” wrote Jim Wallis, a progressive activist and spiritual adviser to President Obama, who ranked Stott second only to Billy Graham in his influence over global Christianity. Rick Warren called him “one of my closest mentors.”