The Common Good

Religiously Returning to 2004

Date: November 1, 2012

The implosion of religious support for Obama is reflected in the minimal enthusiasm expressed for his campaign now versus the excitement of 4 years ago. Evangelical Left icon Jim Wallis of Sojourners had greeted Obama's ascendancy almost messianically. "My prayers for decades have been answered in this minute," he gushed at the inauguration.

Once a shrill critic of America, Wallis then announced that with Obama in power America is "a better country than I thought it was." And he boasted of ties to the new Administration. "This White House wants our advice," he surmised early on. "Leaders from the faith community have been virtually inhabiting the offices of the Transition Team over the last weeks, with our advice being sought on global and domestic poverty, human rights, criminal justice, torture, faith-based offices, foreign policy, Gaza and the Middle East. A staffer joked one day, ‘We should have just gotten all of you bunks here.'"

In stark contrast, Wallis has been far more somber this election cycle. "Remember what was in the political air during the fall campaign for the 2008 presidential election -- the feelings of hope and the possibility for real change?" he recently asked. "Doesn't that seem like a very long time ago now?" Without directly criticizing Obama, Wallis has lamented the absence of rhetoric about the poor and the environment amid little regret over "unnecessary and wrong wars."

Boasts over killing Osama bin Laden must make Wallis, who is pacifist, cringe. With a tinge of ennui, Wallis has somewhat apathetically concluded: "It's time to apply the lessons we have learned about not ultimately trusting in candidates, and certainly not in parties, for the changes we need."