Jim Wallis Discusses His New Book, 'America's Original Sin,' on NPR

By Patrick Walls 10-14-2015
Image via Brazos Press.

Rev. Jim Wallis recently sat down and discussed his latest book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America with Michel Martin of “All Things Considered” on NPR. You can preorder the book here.

Jim Wallis discussed a reality that many white parents do not consider in light of Trayvon Martin’s killing in 2013:

“When Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, I felt - you might call it the lament of a white father. I knew and the whole country knew that my son Luke — six-foot-tall baseball athlete, going to college next year — had been walking and doing the same thing, same time that Trayvon was doing in Sanford, Fla., everyone knows he would've come back. But Trayvon didn't come back, and so it was a parable. Jesus talked about parables. They teach us things. Michael Brown — Ferguson — was a parable. Charleston was a parable. The parable about where we are as a nation — we have to see our original sin and how it still lingers in our criminal justice system.”

Wallis defined the United States’ original sin:

“Well, the original sin is…this nation was founded by the near genocide of one people and the kidnapping of another people to build this nation.”

Wallis also discussed white privilege, poverty, and the upcoming presidential debate:

“I'm writing [America’s Original Sin] as a white man, and I'm saying that in this society, no matter where I live or what I do or who my friends are or even if I try to work to overcome racial and criminal injustice, I can never escape white privilege in this society — just like my friends, my colleagues can't escape what it means to be black or brown in this country. And if we are people of faith — I say in the book if white Christians were more Christian than white, black parents would have less to fear for their children.”

...“We [The Circle of Protection] asked all the candidates to submit a three minute video on how they would approach property, how they'd treat the poor, how they would deal with this issue, globally and domestically…Republicans and Democrats have to answer the same question, and they're saying different things. And that's a good debate to have.”

...“[W]hat I hope is CNN asks the kinds of questions that Pope Francis said are central to what it means to seek and serve the common good. But I care less about what a candidate says about how devout they are, how often they pray, how deep their faith is. I want to know what it means - what it means for their leadership and for their policies. And if the poor, the earth and strangers, immigrants aren't there, prisoners aren't there, then I don't hear the gospel in what they're saying.”

Listen to the whole interview or read the transcript here.

Preorder the book here.

Patrick Walls is the Communications Assistant for Sojourners. He muses about the world at @I_Am_PWalls.

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