Jim Wallis is a New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He served on President Obama's White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and was former vice chair of and currently serves on the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum.
Jim is the author of 12 books. His most recent book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, was released in January 2016. His other books include: On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned About Serving the Common Good, Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery; The Great Awakening:Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America; and God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.
He is president and founder of Sojourners, where he is also editor-in-chief of Sojourners, which has a combined print and online readership of more than 5 million people. Jim frequently speaks in the United States and abroad. His columns appear in major newspapers, including The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. He frequently appears on radio and television as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, Fox—on shows such as Meet the Press and Hardball—and on National Public Radio. He has taught at Harvard University, Georgetown University, and a variety of other academic institutions.
Jim was raised in a Midwest evangelical family. As a teenager, his questioning of the racial segregation in his church and community led him to the black churches and neighborhoods of inner-city Detroit. He spent his student years involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements. Jim founded Sojourners while a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois. Jim and several other students started a small magazine and community with a Christian commitment to social justice. More than 40 years later, Sojourners has grown into a national faith-based organization. In 1979, Time magazine named Wallis one of the "50 Faces for America's Future."
Jim lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Joy Carroll, one of the first women ordained in the Church of England and author of Beneath the Cassock: The Real-Life Vicar of Dibley, and their young sons, Luke and Jack. He was a Little League baseball coach for 11 years — 22 seasons.
Authors Jim Wallis and Eddie Glaude Jr. join Morning Joe to discuss the water crisis in Flint and how racial geography impacts the country.
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How does faith inform public debates on social justice in U.S. politics? How should religious leaders and politicians engage the political process while maintaining their moral witness? Since the fall of 2011, Jim Wallis has been addressing these questions in a course he teaches at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. He leads the class through a series of topics that intersect religion, society, and politics. Sojourners and the Berkley Center have now made this course available online through video recordings and course packets.
The (Un)common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided
Jim Wallis thinks our life together can be better. In this timely and provocative book, he shows us how to reclaim Jesus' ancient and compelling vision of the common good — a vision that impacts and inspires not only our politics but also our personal lives, families, churches, neighborhoods, and world. The (Un)Common Good is the revised and updated paperback edition of On God's Side and includes a new preface.
On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good
On God's Side examines the deepest problems this world faces. What we need is a commitment to an ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good. How do we work together, even with people we don’t agree with? How do we treat each other, especially the poorest and most vulnerable? How do we take care of not just ourselves, but also one another? Wallis tackles these questions and more in this challenging, yet hopeful book.
The Great Awakening: Seven Ways to Change the World
What would it take to change the world? What would it take to end extreme poverty, to address climate change, to create peace? For too long, a narrow religious agenda has been used like a wedge to divide people. But a wider and deeper vision of faith and values is emerging. It's a renewal of faith – a great awakening – that combines personal faith with social justice. A new social movement is on the rise. The Great Awakening is upon us.
God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
God's Politics offers a clarion call to make both our religious communities and our government more accountable to key values of the prophetic religious tradition. Our biblical faith and religious traditions simply do not allow us as a nation to continue to ignore the poor and marginalized, deny racial justice, tolerate the ravages of war, or turn away from the human rights of those made in the image of God. These are the values of love and justice, reconciliation, and community that Jesus taught and that are at the core of what many of us believe, Christian or not.
Faith Works: How Faith-based Organizations are Changing Lives, Neighborhoods, and America
"In Faith Works, Jim Wallis has woven together a detailed road map for those interested in loosening the chains of social injustice. This book is a powerful resource for change!" Millard Fuller, Founder and President, Habitat for Humanity International
The Soul of Politics: Beyond 'Religious Right' and 'Secular Left'
Jim Wallis responds to signs of cultural breakdown and political impasse with a resounding and highly moving call to reintegrate politics and spirituality - a call for a new political morality combining social justice with personal responsibility.
The Call to Conversion: Recovering the Gospel for These Times
Jim Wallis explores Jesus' call to God's community and away from worldly standards, the churches' betrayal of the call, and the possibilities for a new response.
Posts By This Author
This Advent, a Journey Toward Immigration Justice
This Saturday, Dec. 15, I will be joining a group of 400 people of faith in San Diego and Tijuana as we take part in a religious observance called Las Posadas, which will enable us to transcend the politics of fear regarding our broken immigration system. I will be accompanied by a Sojourners team that will document the events and speak to families directly affected by the United States’ cruel immigration policies on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
An Inescapable Contrast
I believe the remembrance of the life of George H. W. Bush this week and going forward give this man one final mission: to demonstrate the values that reveal who genuine leaders are, contrasting the values (or lack thereof) that reveal who are not. What does a leader do or not do? What are the markers of true public service that differentiate it from public exploitation?
Taking a First Step Toward Reforming Unfair Criminal Justice Laws
This bill is very aptly named. The First Step Act is just that and no better — a first, extremely modest step on what will need to be a much longer path of extensive reforms to a deeply broken system. That system can best be understood, as Bryan Stevenson and others have so clearly pointed out, as the direct evolution of slavery into the system of mass incarceration.
Gratitude and True Welcome
This Thanksgiving presents some of the most striking contradictions I can remember: The story of the first Thanksgiving, particularly as taught and internalized among many white Americans, is an optimistic story of radical welcome and hospitality. But what that simplistic story painfully leaves out is how quickly Native welcome turned to European conquest, colonization and, yes, the near genocide of America’s Indigenous people.
‘We Shall Remain United’
JUST DAYS BEFORE the midterm elections, the Sojourners community reacted with shock, mourning, and fear at the horrific and murderous attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Eleven congregants were killed while observing the Sabbath in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
That this evil act of anti-Semitic terrorism should take place here in the United States is deeply shocking. Yet both U.S. and world history teach us that the poison of anti-Semitism is very real and has deadly consequences. Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest and most persistent forms of bigotry alive in the world today, and Christians—who believe all human beings are created in the image of God—have a duty to name anti-Semitism and confront it at every turn, particularly given the shameful complicity of so many Christians in the Holocaust and other oppression and killing of Jewish people.
This hate crime capped off a horrific week of violence inspired by white supremacist ideology, in which racist and conspiracy theories were openly promulgated on the campaign trail by Donald Trump and amplified by prominent voices in right-wing media and dark web spaces. The attempted murder of critics of the Trump administration by mailing pipe bombs, the killing of two African Americans—Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice Stallard—in a grocery store after a failed attack on a black church, and the massacre of Jews in their synagogue—all were carried out by white supremacist nationalists, who are the greatest terrorist threats in America today.
In his closing election messages, Trump was unashamedly using a political strategy of fear and hate. The violence we have seen cannot be disconnected from the bigoted and hateful words of presidential political rhetoric. When the president proudly called himself “nationalist,” amid such hate and violence, the white nationalists, supremacists, and anti-Semites felt supported and emboldened.
What the Midterm Elections Revealed About the U.S.
Despite the split decision of this election— with the House going to the Democrats and the Senate to Republicans — the results do not mean it will be easy to prevent Trump from making further dangerous, corrupt, or autocratic moves over the next two years. But the election does mean that any moves like these will be challenged by key oversight committees in the House; at least after the new Congress is seated on January — but the lame duck session between now and then becomes a dangerous time to see what Donald Trump may try to do.
To Deny the Vote of One Citizen Is to Assault the Image of God
In a time like this, prayer is not perfunctory, an add on, or a brief closing to a meeting. Rather it is an opening to what indeed has now become “spiritual warfare” as the New Testament describes.
This Election Is a Referendum on White Nationalism
Our faith is offended by these assaults that contradict the biblical commands to love and protect our neighbors. Our conscience is seared by the lies and strategies of hateful politics that will lead to more and more violence in this country and put the soul of our nation in jeopardy. Words matter and hateful words do lead to violence. Our commitment to our brothers and sisters under attack will lead us to pray, stand, act, and vote against the politics of fear and hate, because of our faith and patriotism.
Trump's Strategy of Fear
Trump's rallies, like his tweets, have been hard to watch, but they clearly reveal a political strategy of fear, based on continual and unapologetic lying, which deliberately evokes racial resentment and hatred. This president’s purpose is indeed to divide us, especially along racial lines. Again, we don’t yet know who is directly responsible for this latest string of violence, but it can no longer be said that there is no relationship between violent presidential rhetoric against opponents and the media, and the violent action against those very people. You can no longer say, “I don’t like his rhetoric and tweets, but I like his policies."
'We Know How the Story Ends'
ON THE DAY Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, I tweeted this: “Today was a day of protest, rage, mourning, lament. Tomorrow we go on by going deeper, and learn that hope is not a feeling, but a decision—based on whatever we call faith. Stay strong and take care of each other.”
The nation is in trauma, with many women and people of color in particular being retraumatized almost every day. But Advent is upon us, and the message of that liturgical season never changes. Advent is a season of waiting for the coming of Christ. Christ will come again, and not just ultimately but time and time again, in all kinds of unexpected ways.
So, in Advent, we wait—expectantly—for Jesus Christ to come again in our personal and our public lives. That is our hope, based not on optimism but on faith.
The situation we face in Donald Trump’s autocratic impulses and actions is indeed a constitutional crisis, the severity of which will depend, in part, on whether our institutions and structures, in the wake of the midterm elections, will hold the executive accountable, or not.
This is also a moral crisis regarding whether our “better angels,” as Abraham Lincoln put it, or our worst demons, as Donald Trump seems to evoke every day, will finally triumph. As they say, the jury is still out on that. Trump has opened a Pandora’s box of white racial and male resentment, fear, and hatred, and those forces are not going back into the box, despite election results. The battle between our better angels and our worst demons will be the spiritual battle of our political life for the unforeseeable future.
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