Religion News Service Press Items
The Rev. Jim Wallis, president of the anti-poverty group Sojourners, said the faith community is ready to help Obama mobilize the grass roots.
"There has never been more unity on this issue in the faith community," said Wallis, describing the commitment from the National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, Catholic and Jewish leaders who participated in Monday's meeting.
Still, Obama continues to champion the role of faith in public life, frequently summoning the spirits of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and even St. Thomas Aquinas to frame his policies in moral terms.
Like previous presidents, he regularly seeks the counsel of longtime Washington insiders, including Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, Reform Rabbi David Saperstein and retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, to shape decisions about the Iraq war, health care reform and the economy.
“We know that something has gone wrong when Donald Trump, the TV reality show `The Apprentice,’ is offered as a cultural role model for a new generation of business leaders,” Wallis writes.
Wallis criticizes outrageous executive bonuses and calls for more regulation of the banking industry, but he includes “20 moral exercises” that individuals can take to reset their personal compasses.
Members of President Obama’s domestic team addressed more than 1,000 Christian progressives at an anti-poverty meeting Monday (April 27), asking for their help to accomplish the president’s agenda.
The group, The Mobilization to End Poverty, plans to bring thousands of religious and community activists to Washington later this month to urge President Obama to make the poor a priority and continue his goal of reducing domestic poverty by half in 10 years.
The effort, co-chaired by evangelical activist Jim Wallis and Michael Gerson, who was a speechwriter for former President George W.
Bush, is led by what Gerson called an "orgy of strange bedfellows" who want to make sure the poor are not overlooked in the economic downturn.
Sojourners founder Rev. Jim Wallis suggested reformers consider civil disobedience to assist immigrants because the issue is a "religious matter."
Of the 15 people named to the advisory council on Thursday, several are evangelicals, including the Rev. Jim Wallis, executive director of Sojourners; Frank Page, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; and megachurch Pastor Joel C. Hunter of Lakeland, Fla.
President-elect Barack Obama drew heavy criticism from gay rights groups when he tapped California megachurch pastor Rick Warren to pray at his upcoming Jan. 20 inauguration after Warren campaigned for a state constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage.
Religion News Service asked several religious leaders what they would have prayed for if they had been asked, including the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners.
Jim Wallis, editor of the progressive evangelical Sojourners magazine, sees a coalition forming based on the whole of Catholic social teaching, whether the person is Catholic or not. When these people see bishops speak out on just one or two issues, such as abortion and gay marriage or stem-cell research, he says the motive is obvious.
“It appears transparently partisan,” Wallis said. “It’s hard to respect somebody’s consistent ethic of life when they only talk about abortion and not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, poverty, genocide.”