The Common Good

The Washington Post

The Washington Post Press Items
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.
Dozens of demonstrators, many of them Christian peace activists, were arrested outside the White House late last night and early this morning as part of a protest against the war in Iraq. About 11:30 p.m., police began handcuffing the first of about 100 protesters who had assembled on the White House sidewalk to pray in a planned act of civil disobedience. The protesters were part of a larger group that had assembled at the Washington National Cathedral for a service on the fourth anniversary of the start of the war. From the service, demonstrators marched through the wind, cold and dampness to the White House.
Several thousand Christian peace activists plan to march on the White House tonight to demonstrate their opposition to the war in Iraq, organizers said yesterday. The event is sponsored by the District-based Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a progressive religious group, along with the American Friends Service Committee, Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and more than two dozen other Protestant and Catholic groups.
Democrats and Republicans should work together to find new ways to end poverty, curb government corruption and strengthen families, Rev. Jim Wallis said Saturday. "Answering the call to lift people out of poverty will require spiritual commitment and bipartisan political leadership," Wallis, the head of the liberal Sojourners/Call to Renewal, an evangelical social justice movement, said in the weekly Democratic radio address. "Real solutions must transcend partisan politics," he said. "It is time to find common ground by moving to higher ground." President Bush has signaled his readiness to consider Democratic priorities such as a federal minimum-wage increase with certain amendments and to find compromise on renewing the No Child Left Behind education law and overhauling immigration policy.
Democrats turned to an evangelical Christian to give their weekly radio address on Saturday, citing a desire to avoid partisanship after last month's elections that gave them control of Congress. "I want to be clear that I am not speaking for the Democratic Party, but as a person of faith who feels the hunger in America for a new vision of our life together, and sees the opportunity to apply our best moral values to the urgent problems we face," the Rev. Jim Wallis said in his remarks. Wallis, author of 2005's "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," highlighted issues that he said required a new direction, including U.S. policy in Iraq. He also called for new efforts to combat poverty and protect the environment.
Jim Wallis is preaching about a Bible torn apart. Wallis tells the crowd at the Seattle Pacific University chapel that when he was in seminary, a fellow student took hold of an old Bible and cut out "every single reference to the poor." "And when we were done, that Bible was literally in shreds. It was falling apart in my hands. It was a Bible full of holes. I would take it out to preach and say, 'Brothers and sisters, this is our American Bible.'"Wallis pauses. "It's like someone has stolen our faith. And when someone tries to hijack your faith, you know what? There comes a time when you have to take it back!"
In Ohio, faithful Christians on the left are working to turn the tables on the Christian right. Using the language of equality and social justice, pastors urged nearly 400 people at a Columbus church last week to vote their liberal hearts and "create a just and peaceful world." The featured speaker at Broad Street Presbyterian Church was Jim Wallis, the left-leaning author of "God's Politics" who has been urging Christian audiences around the country to fight back against social conservatives who helped create the Republican majority in Washington. He spoke of humility, reflection "and even accountability."