The Common Good

Jim Wallis and Richard Land: Join the Great Conversation

Sojomail - November 3, 2011

 QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“If religious leaders and commentators in the U.K. and elsewhere could agree on these three proposals, not as a fixed agenda but as a common ground on which to start serious discussion, the struggles and questionings alike of protesters and clergy at St. Paul’s will not have been wasted.” - Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, endorsing a Vatican statement supporting a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions and a separation of retail and investment operations at banks. (Source:New York Times)

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" - our daily quote and Bible verse e-mail

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis and Richard Land: Join the Great Conversation

Get a free trial issue of Sojourners Get a free issue of Sojourners
Donate to Support Sojourners
Donate to support
Sojourners

Last night, at the National Press Club here in Washington D.C., the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Sojourners co-sponsored a conversation between Richard Land and me on what the religious and moral issues will and should be in the upcoming election year -- about one year out from voting day.

The packed room of reporters demonstrated a high degree of interest in what the faith community’s role might be in the upcoming election, at least in the opinion of two Christian leaders who are usually on different sides of politics, but who still call each other friends.

Amy Sullivan, of Time magazine, was our moderator and posed a series of questions to us before the audience joined in. Amy started by asking each of us what the primary issue/s would be for the faith community and what we would like them to be.

Richard said “the economy” would be the key issue and I agreed, pointing to the rising poverty rates and the basic questions about inequality raised by the Occupy movement. We differed over who was most responsible for the economic crisis -- I pointed to Wall Street and he blamed Washington (actually both bear responsibility); but we both spoke of poverty as a fundamental Christian concern.

We also agreed on the need for comprehensive immigration reform, having both addressed a conference on that imperative just last week, at an evangelical Christian college in the Midwest. Undocumented immigrants are in the biblical category of “the stranger” for Christians, and we are obligated to treat them as Jesus taught us to.

Land said it is “shameful” the way both political parties are using the issue for their own agendas. I noted that Leith Anderson, of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in the New York Times this week that the treatment of immigrants will be an issue that Christians will be watching in this election.

When Richard called for a “Manhattan Project” to remove the nation from dependence on fossil fuels and create a “clean energy nuclear future” I almost jumped out of my seat to say I agree with nearly all that -- except for the “nuclear” part. We agreed to discuss that in greater depth at a later time.

I suggested that evangelical Christians should unite in defense of the low-cost, but very cost-effective, foreign aid that feeds millions of hungry people around the world, keeps hundreds of thousands of infants from being born with HIV/AIDS, vaccinates millions against life-threatening diseases, and provides tens of millions of malaria bed nets that save lives in the global south.

Richard lifted up specific programs such as PEPFAR and the Millennium Development Accounts, which were developed under President George W. Bush and have enjoyed wide bi-partisan support, but are now in great jeopardy in the deficit reduction process. Some cuts can kill, we agreed.

Both of us talked about the broken system in Washington, now being protested by both the tea party and the Occupy movement, and the need for people of faith to hold our political and economic leaders accountable.

We disagreed on nuclear weapons policy, as on the causes of the 2008 recession, and the safety and sustainability of nuclear power plants. But, when the issue of Herman Cain’s problems with accusations of sexual harassment came up, we both affirmed the deep connections between personal integrity and public leadership.

And we both agreed that Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion should not be a factor in the election. Rather, we instead should examine a candidate’s moral compass and policy positions.

One of the most interesting things about last night’s event were the issues that did not come up: abortion and gay marriage.

Both are issues Richard and I care about, even if we have different solutions and perspectives on how to address them. And yet the topics simply never arose, neither in any of the questions from Sullivan or the audience, nor in our responses to them.

Abortion and gay marriage are the two subjects that have dominated discussions of religion and politics for many years. But they weren’t even on the radar during our public conversation at the National Press Club Wednesday evening.

Richard raised the subject of marriage as an important antidote to poverty, another point on which we agree. And we both know that reducing poverty reduces the number of abortions, something we both support. Still, neither gay marriage nor abortion was mentioned.

People of faith -- including evangelical Christians -- will be voting both ways in the upcoming election. It is simply not true that they will be voting only on one or two issues.

And, if evangelicals focus on many of the issues central to their faith, rather than becoming partisan cheerleaders, they might be able to raise some critical issues in this election and to hold both sides more accountable, even in a campaign that both Richard and I suspect will be one of the ugliest in U.S. history.

At the end of the evening, Amy remarked that if the upcoming election debates were as civil and substantive as this evening was, we would all be very grateful.

Richard and I disagree about some things and agree about others, yet we were able to model respectful and dynamic public discourse.

Even if we end up canceling out each other’s votes a year from now on Election Day 2012, if in the intervening months more evangelicals and people of faith join the Great Conversation, we all win.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

E-mailE-mail this article to friends
FacebookShare this article on Facebook
CommentComment on this article on the God's Politics Blog


 ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

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

Jim Wallis and Richard Land Discuss Evangelicals and 2012 Elections
by Tim King

The discussion is a sign of the changing nature of how evangelicals engage with politics. How and why they vote continues to shift, but so does how they engage politics.
+ Click to continue

Is The American Dream God's Dream?
by Lisa Sharon Harper

The American Dream has always been at odds with itself, but our chosen economic system of the last 30 years has dragged America farther away from its common dream of equality.
+ Click to continue

One Reason the U.S. Must Continue Funding Foreign Aid
by James Colten

For every dollar spent on poverty-focused development assistance, we spend $36 on our military. And in some cases, foreign aid is sometimes more effective at achieving military goals than military funding itself.
+ Click to continue

"Hole-y" Bible Gets a Digital Makeover
by Jack Palmer

"The Holy Bible and the Holy Quran: A Comparison of Words," created by Pitch Interactive, might not make quite the dramatic visual statement as a "Bible full of holes," but the online comparison does allow us to see for ourselves how often, for instance, justice or poverty or wealth are written and spoken about in the Bible.
+ Click to continue

Seventy-two Days Does Not a Marriage Make
by Tim King

Our society confuses "market values" with moral values. The things we value that make our market work, aren't necessarily the same things that make relationships work.
+ Click to continue

#OccupyThePumpkinPatch: Good Grief!
by God's Politics Editor

There's something fantastically primal about the vivid palette of early color-TV mid-60s animation. Great Pumpkin, the third Peanuts TV special, first aired in 1966, introducing audiences to one of the most iconic moments in all comic-dom.
+ Click to continue

Boo! It's Jesus!: Halloween and Evangelization
by Joshua Witchger

At times such as these, the church often finds itself wrestling with the big question H. Richard Niebuhr posed in his seminal 1951 work, Christ and Culture. That is, to what extent should Christians engage in and interact with the world around them?
+ Click to continue

Reformation Day and You(2): Reformed and Always Reforming
by Ruth Hawley-Lowry

And back then, of course, the Irish rock group U2 had made it "cool" to oppose apartheid. As I would drive from tony Princeton to depressed Newark, I would turn on U2's album Rattle and Hum and blast the song, "Silver and Gold," that Bono wrote as a direct attack on apartheid.
+ Click to continue

Earth-Friendly Halloween Recipes
by Cathleen Falsani

Cathleen Falsani is a huge foodie who loves to cook. Here she shares some of her favorite fall recipes.
+ Click to continue

British Clergy to Support #OccupyLondon with Circle of Protection, Prayer
by Cathleen Falsani

Other British clergy, however, are rallying behind the demonstrators, saying they would physically (and spiritually) surround protesters at St. Paul's with a circle of prayer or "circle of protection."
+ Click to continue

#OccupySunday: Blood-Boiler du Jour
by Cathleen Falsani

In an OpEd titled, "What the Costumes Reveal," New York Times columnist Joe Nocera wrote about a Halloween office party thrown by the N.Y. law firm of Steven J. Baum, an outfit that specializes in real estate foreclosures where, apparently, employees came costumed as homeless and foreclosed-upon families.
+ Click to continue

#OccupySunday: Michael Moore says, "We've killed despair."
by God's Politics Editor

Filmmaker Michael Moore told anti-Wall Street protesters in Oakland that the Occupy movement is inspiring millions who are angry about corporate excess, income inequality, and the failure of politicians to address issues facing the majority of Americans.
+ Click to continue

#OccupySunday: Angela Davis Speaks at Occupy Philadelphia
by God's Politics Editor

Civil Rights activist Angela Davis spoke to a crowd of more than 1,000 people at Occupy Philly in People's Plaza at City Hall on Friday night, Oct. 28. Her speech inspired the crowd to continue working for a "better political universe."
+ Click to continue

#OccupySunday: We Are the 100 Percent
by Tripp Hudgins

Any society that will not care for its poor, in effect, prefers its rich... Happiness then becomes an increasingly shrinking target. One can never have enough. Justice becomes scarce. Keeping up with the Joneses becomes keeping up with the bills. Mercy vanishes. All that is left is debt and frustration.
+ Click to continue

Sunday SoJo: OpEds You Might Have Missed
by Duane Shank

A selection of this week's op-eds, on Iraq, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and a potpourri of other topics.
+ Click to continue

Wallis and Mohler Debate Social Justice and the Gospel
by Tim King

Mohler argued that the Gospel is the story of Christ's death for our sins through subsitutionary atonement as articulated by the Apostle Paul. Wallis argued for an "integral" Gospel that both includes personal salvation and the restoration of societal relationships.
+ Click to continue

The “Atonement-Only" Gospel
by Jim Wallis

The atonement-only gospel is simply too small, too narrow, too bifurcated, and ultimately too private. A gospel message that doesn't even try to change the world, concentrating only on individuals, only works for those who don't need the world to be changed. Therefore, it ends up being too white, too privileged, too male, and too American.
+ Click to continue

Halloween Treats Can Be Tricky: The Ethics of Chocolate
by Stacey Schwenker

Before we grab a bag of Hershey's Kisses or a sack of bite-sized York Peppermint Patties, we would do well to pause for a moment to consider the hundreds of thousands of children who are enslaved in the cocoa industry of West Africa.
+ Click to continue

Prayers and Support for Injured OWS Protester and Iraq War Vet Scott Olsen
by God's Politics Editor

The condition of former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, 24, who was badly injured when he was struck in the head reportedly by a projectile fired by police during Occupy Wall Street protests in Oakland, Calif., was upgraded from critical to fair condition overnight.
+ Click to continue

Halloween and Jesus: A Reconciliation in the Dark
by Cathleen Falsani

Halloween, I was taught, was an occult holiday (or maybe even Satanic!) and good Christians should have nothing to do with it. So while other kids in the neighborhood continued their annual nighttime pilgrimage, we would stay in or go to a church youth group function.
+ Click to continue

Rule No. 1 of Interfaith Relations: Faith is Required
by Anne Marie Roderick

Religious tension is real and the need for cooperation across religious, spiritual, and philosophical lines is more important now than ever. Interfaith cooperation is the goal, but the road there requires something slightly different. Above all else, interfaith relationships require faith.
+ Click to continue

What We Need to Do to Cut Poverty in Half in 10 Years
by God's Politics Editor

The report reveals where the nation stands in three core areas that are essential to progress and provides policy recommendations to move the dial in the right direction.
+ Click to continue

Moving Money: Investing in a New World
by Shane Claiborne

Nearly a decade ago, we threw a party on Wall Street where we gave away $10,000 outside the Stock Exchange. The money had formerly been invested in stocks but was divested, broken into thousands of small bills and coins that were dumped at the NYSE entrance, where we invited homeless folks from around New York to join the party.
+ Click to continue

Must-See Movie: "The Mighty Macs" is Mighty Marvelous
by Cathleen Falsani

"The Mighty Macs" is based on the true story of the Immaculata College women's basketball team that rose from obscurity to clinch three national titles in the early 1970s in a game-changing winning streak that paved the way for women's collegiate sports as we know them today.
+ Click to continue

Doing Nothing is Not an Option -- United to End Genocide
by Jack Palmer

Eldridge and Edgar both have held important positions in government and policy-making, and knowing that they, too, are followers of Christ reminded me of the responsibility we have as people of faith to stand up for the voiceless, the 'last, least and lost' of this world.
+ Click to continue

Congressman Paul Ryan vs King Solomon
by Tim King

In the Old Testament, redistribution of land, admonitions against employers exploiting workers, and a redistribution of agricultural wealth to those in need were all considered part of a good and just society.
+ Click to continue

 SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" e-mail - the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:
In age of political vitriol, opposing Christians call for civility
CNN.com Belief blog
Jim Wallis, the progressive CEO of Sojourners, and Richard Land, the conservative head of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, are two religious scholars with opposing political views. But at their joint event at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday, they agreed on some issues as they discussed and debated faith and the 2012 election.

 

Romney's Mormonism to be a bigger issue in the general election, say evangelicals
The Huffington Post
But a prominent religious leader of the progressive left, Rev. Jim Wallis, disavowed such tactics and specifically called out Hitchens for being "as bad a secular fundamentalist as Jerry Falwell or the Ayatollah Khomeini are bad religious fundamentalists." "He is a hostile, vitriolic, hateful person when it comes to people of faith," Wallis told HuffPost. "He is intellectually completely ignorant of religion."

Is there such a thing as “the common good”?
Houston Chronicle
Sojourners is celebrating 40 years on creative/disruptive Christian presence in the US this year. Their fearless leader Jim Wallis wrote in the most recent magazine that there are 3 main “fights” they have fought (poor word choice for a pacifist?): 1. Against the privatization of faith; 2. Against the sexualization of sin; and their most current “fight”: for the common good.

The moral injuries of war in Iraq
U.S. Catholic
Jim Wallis has also voiced the need for religious support of veterans, saying on the God’s Politics blog at Sojourners, “Religious communities must reach out now more than ever to returning veterans to make sure they have the physical, emotional, and spiritual support they need…No matter what our view of the war, it is our collective responsibility to be healers for those who are coming home.”

Evangelical opposites to hold discussion on 2012 presidential race
The Washington Post
In evangelical America, the Revs. Richard Land and Jim Wallis are odd bedfellows. Land is a leader of the huge, traditional Southern Baptist Convention who advises conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. Wallis is a staple on lists of the country’s most influential religious progressives.

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.

 
 

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!
 
 
 
  

Free Gandhi poster with a new subscription to Sojourners magazine! Learn more.
 

Scared to talk politics in church? Get the conversation going in your small group with Sojourners’ discussion guides. Lots of topics and great talking points on challenging aspects of social justice. Learn more.
 

Wisdom for your commute: Download audio talks by Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Lucy Winkett, and more. Shop the SojoStore.
 

New Item from Sojourners! Send a message from Dorothy Day with your reusable, packable, durable tote/grocery bag for all your stuff. Available exclusively from the SojoStore.

 

  
 


Click Here!
 

GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: sojourners@sojo.net | Advertising: advertising@sojo.net | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.