Religion News Service Press Items
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.”
Democratic Party leaders are making an aggressive push for Catholic and evangelical voters, splashing attention on faith-focused ideas and gurus here at the Democratic National Convention. On Tuesday, the convention hosted two faith caucus panel discussions, with the Rev. Jim Wallis, the best-selling author and evangelical leader of Washington-based Sojourners/Call to Renewal, prominent at both.
Progressive evangelical and Catholic leaders voiced their support for the Democratic Party's platform on abortion, citing new provisions that emphasize measures intended to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S. such as women's health care, adoption services and income support programs. In a conference call sponsored by his progressive evangelical group Sojourners, the Rev. Jim Wallis called the platform a "historic step forward" in reconciling the party's support of abortion rights with the concerns of Christians who oppose the practice.
Nine faith leaders have banded together to urge Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain to present a 10-year plan to combat poverty when speaking at their national nominating conventions.