The Common Good

Outraged But Not Surprised

Sojomail - October 4, 2006


"We will forgive you."

- unnamed Amish neighbor, while embracing the father of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the gunman who killed five Amish schoolchildren and injured five others before taking his own life Monday morning. (source: Lancaster New Era)

Members of the community have established funds both for the families of those killed and wounded (the Amish do not have health insurance), and for the family of Roberts, who leaves behind a wife and three young children. Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Disaster Service are also coordinating support for those affected.

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

Outraged But Not Surprised

Over the past four days, the storm over Rep. Mark Foley's improper and salacious e-mails and predatory behavior toward teenage male congressional pages has taken on tidal wave proportions. Foley resigned from Congress only hours after the initial stories broke on Friday, Saturday's news was about alleged House leadership cover-ups, and by Sunday House Speaker Dennis Hastert had requested an FBI investigation of possible criminal behavior.

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the conservative newspaper The Washington Times wrote in its lead editorial: "House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once." To their credit, some social conservatives, such as Richard Viguerie and Bay Buchanan, have already spoken out on television shows with real moral passion on Foley's behavior and the Republican leadership's handling of the situation. It will be important to hear clearly from the leaders of the Religious Right on this scandal.

Already this year, three other Republican members of Congress have been indicted because of financial and political scandals. One is in prison. Others, from both parties, are under investigation. Congress refuses to resolve the scandal of pork-barrel spending and the ability of special- interest money to determine policy decisions.

And now this. Foley's disgusting behavior is compounded by his hypocrisy in being the chair of the Congressional Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. I certainly believe his behavior should be fully investigated and prosecuted if warranted. And any of the House leadership who knew of his activities and covered it up should in fact resign.

As a parent, I am outraged by this developing spectacle, but, sadly, not surprised. We live in a culture that has lost its way. A poisonous culture in which sex and money permeate our news, television shows, movies, advertising, and almost the entire popular culture. And when you throw political power into the mix, this latest scandal shouldn't be a shock. A Congress that has lost its moral bearings simply reflects a culture that has lost its moral underpinnings. And when a party has been in power too long, just staying in power becomes more important than truth-telling, which was unfortunately also true when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. As conservative Richard Viguerie said in The Washington Times: "The Republicans have become what they beheld in this town when the Democrats were in control - presiders over a culture of corruption, only it far exceeds what they complained about with the Democrats and Speaker Jim Wright."

The immediate response of many Democrats has been to jump on the news for partisan gain. Many Republicans jump on scandals involving Democratic members of Congress for their partisan gain. But the roots of this crisis go far deeper than partisanship. As Diana Butler Bass wrote earlier this week: "...we know that sin is not the exclusive possession of any political party. The darkness that stalks us is neither Republican nor Democratic. It is part of the human condition...."

We need political leaders - of both parties - who believe in the importance of integrity, of humility, of honesty, and a commitment to the common good - and who are willing to challenge their own party's desire for power at the expense of moral principle. And we need a pledge by all of us to make fundamental changes in our culture and support political leaders who will work for those changes.

+ Read and respond to comments on this article on the God's Politics Blog


+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

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Tony Campolo: Duplicity on the Right
When it suits them, it turns out, the end does indeed justify the means.

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Join Christians Around the World: Stand Against Global Poverty

On Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006, we invite you to join with Christians around the world in lifting up a prophetic call to end extreme global poverty through Micah Sunday. On this day we can remind our churches that God has given us the knowledge, technology, and resources to end extreme poverty; what is missing is the moral and political will. Through a day of education, prayer, reflection, and action you can join a movement of the Holy Spirit that is building momentum to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and find lasting solutions to save the 30,000 children who die every day from preventable disease and malnutrition.

Visit and for more information.

+ Learn more and take action


Top stories:

Religious Right Voter Guides Facing Challenge From Left The Washington Post
In Protestant churches, the Christian Coalition's guides will face competition this year from "Voting God's Politics," a brochure produced by the liberal evangelical magazine Sojourners and the anti-poverty group Call to Renewal.

Red Letter group looks to broaden moral issues Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette
Calling themselves Red Letter Christians because many Bibles print Jesus' words in red ink, they are trying to energize evangelicals who think Christian political activism was hijacked by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and top GOP operatives.

Religious leaders call for U.S. talks with Iran The Washington Post

Christian right driving wedge into U.S. Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Truth, values not open for debate The State News (Michigan)

On the left but not left out The Kansas City Star

Moderate, progressive Christians vote, too Seattle Post-Intelligencer

New generation of evangelicals embraces a more moderate focus Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Falwell: Hillary Draws More Foes Than Lucifer ABC News

Moderates finding a voice Detroit Free Press


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