The Common Good

The Washington Post

The Washington Post Press Items
[Meaghan] Burdick's first appeal through the mail was shipped out to a list of 800,000 people she had cobbled together using addresses collected during Obama's earlier campaigns and ones rented from unusual sources, including Sojourners magazine and the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Atlanta. The three-page letter evoked themes of "hope" and "change" and closed with a quote from King: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
Participating in one-day fasts related to the Jubilee Act or endorsing the effort are the Rev. Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical and head of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, evangelical author Tony Campolo, Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, and the Rev. John Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ.
Tonkowich said high-profile liberal Christians such as author Jim Wallis "may be having their day in the sun" with greater media visibility. But, he said, declining denominations and an embrace of such "deal-buster" issues as gay marriage and abortion make the stands of liberal churches barely discernible from those of liberal politics.
This is not Michael Dukakis's Democratic Party. Instead, as was shown by Monday night's forum on faith, sponsored by CNN and the liberal evangelical group Sojourners, it is a party on a mission: to make inroads into Republicans' ability to attract and, more important, turn out religious voters.
Yes, there was a vigorous discussion Sunday on the merits of competing health-care plans -- yet another sign that this campaign may finally put universal coverage on the road to enactment. And yesterday's Clinton-Obama-Edwards discussion, sponsored by the progressive Christian magazine Sojourners, was organized in large part around the theme of social justice.
The candidate forum was part of an annual Sojourners conference called Pentecost, where leaders on the religious left gather. Obama spoke at the event last year.
Obama's effort is headed by Joshua DuBois, a former Senate aide who is associate pastor of a Pentecostal church in Cambridge, Mass. DuBois calls himself a "political progressive, religious evangelical" -- exactly the demographic that all three Democratic candidates will be courting Monday night at a forum sponsored by Jim Wallis's magazine, Sojourners, and carried live by CNN.
"So the question to you as graduates, as ambassadors for a new generation is: What are you going to no longer accept?" the Rev. Jim Wallis, executive director of Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a D.C. faith-based organization, told a sea of students in black caps and gowns sitting on plastic chairs on the lawn outside Healy Hall.
American Idol isn't alone. In the last two years, there has been a surge of interest in ending poverty in America. In the faith community, Sojourners and Call to Renewal announced a Covenant for a New America and urged others to help them cut child poverty by half in 10 years.
Why now? The answer goes beyond last year's election returns. In 2006, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created an Economic Opportunity Commission and charged it with developing strategies to expand opportunity and reduce poverty. The U.S. Conference of Mayors established a Task Force on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In the faith community, Catholic Charities USA and Sojourners/Call to Renewal have launched poverty reduction campaigns.