The Common Good

Jim Wallis Challenges Democrats and Republicans in Incoming Congress to a New Politics Based on Moral Values

Date: December 1, 2006

Friday, December 1, 2006

Media contactJack Pannell, 202-745-4614; Colin Mathewson, 202-745-4625


Jim Wallis Challenges Democrats and Republicans in Incoming Congress to a New Politics Based on Moral Values

Wallis to Become First Non-Partisan Speaker to Address the Nation on Democrats’ Weekly Radio Forum THIS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2nd.

Washington , D.C. – In accepting Sen. Harry Reid’s unprecedented invitation, Rev. Jim Wallis will become the first nonpartisan religious leader to speak on the Democratic Party’s weekly radio address, broadcast nationally on radio stations everywhere this Saturday, December 2, 2006 .   Rev. Wallis has become a leading progressive evangelical voice calling on both parties to set a new and different tone for our public discourse.

“I speak to you today, not as a representative of the Democratic Party, or any other 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,” said Wallis, author of the bestselling book God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.   “For too long, we have had a politics of blame and fear, while America is ready and eager for a politics of solutions and hope. It is time for us to find common ground by moving to higher ground.”

“ I am extremely pleased that Reverend Wallis is giving this week’s Democratic Radio Address, because we need to move beyond partisanship in Washington and find common ground to move America forward,” said incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about his invitation to Jim Wallis, who is also the president of Sojourners/Call to Renewal. “Reverend Wallis is a voice for all Americans, regardless of their faiths, backgrounds, or political leanings. Next year, Democrats pledge to bring that same spirit of bipartisanship to government when we begin the 110th Congress. “

Wallis shares the reasons why as a nonpartisan he accepted this historic invitation to address the nation on the Democrats’ weekly radio forum on today’s God’s Politics blog. For a recent profile of Jim Wallis, see the Sunday November 26 Washington Post magazine.

The audio for this address will be available on the God’s Politics blog at 11:00 AM EST., Saturday, December 2nd.

His prepared text follows:

“I’m Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics.  I was surprised and grateful when Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid called to say his party wanted to set a new tone and invite, for the first time, a non-partisan religious leader to deliver their weekly radio address and speak about the values that could unite Americans at this critical time.

So, 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.  I am not an elected official or political partisan, but a religious leader who believes that real solutions must transcend partisan politics.  For too long, we have had a politics of blame and fear, while America is eager for a politics of solutions and hope.  It is time to find common ground by moving to higher ground.

Because we have lost a commitment to the common good, politics is failing to solve the deepest crises of our time.  Real solutions will require our best thinking and dialogue, but also call us to transformation and renewal.

Most Americans know that the important issues we confront have an essential moral character.  It is the role of faith communities to remind us of that fact.  But religion has no monopoly on morality.  We need a new, morally-centered discourse on politics that welcomes each of us to the table. 

A government that works for the common good is central. There is a growing desire for integrity in our government across the political spectrum. Corruption in government violates our basic principles.  Money and power distort our political decision-making and even our elections. We must restore trust in our government and reclaim the integrity of our democratic system.

At this moment in history, we need new directions.

Who is left out and left behind is always a religious and moral question.  In the Hebrew Scriptures, the health of a society was measured by how it cared for its weakest and most vulnerable, and prosperity was to be shared by all.  Jesus proclaimed a gospel that was “good news to the poor.” 

I am an evangelical Christian, and a commitment to “the least of these” is central to my personal faith and compels my public actions.  It is time to lift up practical policies and effective practices that “make work work” for low-income families and challenge the increasing wealth gap between rich and poor.  We must find a new moral and political will to overcome poverty that combines personal and social responsibility with a commitment to support strong families.

Answering the call to lift people out of poverty will require spiritual commitment and bipartisan political leadership.  Since the election, I have spoken with leaders from both parties about creating a real anti-poverty agenda in Congress. We need a grand alliance between liberals and conservatives to produce new and effective strategies.

This week, President Bush met with Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq, seeking solutions to the rapidly deteriorating situation in that civil-war torn nation.  Nearly 3,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died.  The cost and consequences of a disastrous war are moral issues our country must address.  Leaders in both parties are acknowledging that the only moral and practical course is to dramatically change the direction of U.S. policy, starting with an honest national debate about how to extricate U.S. forces from Iraq with the least possible damage to everyone involved.

Our earth and the fragile atmosphere that surrounds it are God’s good creation.  Yet, our environment is in jeopardy as global warming continues unchecked and our air and water are polluted.  Good stewardship of our resources is a religious and moral question.  Energy conservation and less dependence on fossil fuels are commitments that could change our future— from the renewal of our lifestyles to the moral redemption of our foreign policies.

A culture that promotes healthy families is necessary to raise our children with strong values, and the breakdown of family and community in our society must be addressed.  But we need serious solutions, not the scapegoating of others.  And wouldn’t coming together to find common ground that dramatically reduces the number of abortions be better than both the left and the right using it as an issue to divide us?

We need a new politics inspired by our deepest held values. We must summon the best in the American people, and unite to solve some of the moral issues of our time.  Americans are much less concerned about what is liberal or conservative, what is Democrat or Republican. Rather, we care about what is right and what works. 

The path of partisan division is well worn, but the road of compassionate priorities and social justice will lead us to a new America.  Building that new America will require greater moral leadership from both Democrats and Republicans, and also from each and every one of us.

I’m Jim Wallis. Thank you and God bless you.”

###

Sojourners/Call to Renewal is a Christian ministry whose mission is to proclaim and practice the biblical call to integrate spiritual renewal and social justice. Visit www.sojo.net, www.RedLetterChristians.org, and www.GodsPolitics.com.