Jim Wallis is a New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He recently served on the 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 most recent 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 magazine, which has a combined print and electronic media readership of more than a quarter million people. Jim frequently speaks in the United States and abroad. His columns appear in major newspapers, including The New York Times, Washington Post, 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, Hardball, the Daily Show, the O’Reilly Factor—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 is a Little League baseball coach.
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
Now Is a Time for Faith to Flourish
I believe at the heart of this election campaign was the deeply biblical, theological, and spiritual issue of how we treat “the other.” Many of the white people who voted for Trump, especially many of the white Christians who voted in majorities for him, are quick to say they didn’t vote for him because of his use of racial bigotry and exploitation of xenophobic attitudes toward immigrants. But many people of color, who voted in overwhelming majorities against Trump have responded, “OK, you say you didn’t like his racism, but it wasn’t a deal breaker; it wasn’t a disqualifier for your vote.” The result of this highly and overtly racialized election and Trump’s early appointees are what make many people of color fearful. It’s what is already happening to them — and their children — on playgrounds, schools, trains, and planes, and just on the street on their way to work or class or church. The personal stories told to me by black church leaders of being verbally abused or threatened have been very disconcerting. A man who clearly capitalized on our divisions now claims he will be a president for all Americans. So that is a commitment he should now be held accountable to — by all of us.
Obama's Presidency Revealed Our Best and Worst Selves
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States was a fundamental blow to white supremacy — a black man in the highest office of the land and most powerful position in the world. That was and will always be a great legacy of the Obama presidency — a historic moment in the longstanding and ongoing movement to undo white supremacy and privilege that challenged and threatened all the ways the original sin still lingers.
Resistance Is Patriotic — and Christian
Power always produces accommodation, and already Trump is being normalized by the media and political world — with the elites adjusting to the new situation of power as they always do Celebrity has replaced leadership, chest pumping has replaced unifying, tweeting has replaced press conferences and international policymaking, and profiteering looks to become a presidential business. The president-elect’s denials of facts — like intelligence community reports of Russian intervention in an American election — are breathtaking.
Singing Our Way Back to Hope
Our only hope is that light does come into the darkness, that this child born in an animal stall is still more important than all the kings and rulers, that the “lowly” are closer to God than all the “high”-placed people that we are forced to watch and listen to all the time. I needed last night to remind me again.
A Blueprint for Resistance
THOSE BEARING witness at Standing Rock have become some of the most important, and most prophetic, leaders protecting God’s earth in America today—especially given the threat to our environment that Donald Trump represents.
There is no better example of what the struggle to protect God’s creation looks like now, and may look like in the future, than the “water protectors” at Standing Rock, who have put their bodies on the line for months to stop the Dakota Access pipeline from being built on sacred tribal lands and endangering the water supply of Indigenous people. Native Americans have been joined by people of every color and creed, including clergy (see “A Chorus of Resistance” in this issue) and military veterans, to prevent the construction from moving forward, despite brutal attacks from private security forces and state law enforcement.
The decision by the Army Corp of Engineers in early December to deny an easement for the pipeline route across Lake Oahe on the Missouri River, adjacent to the Standing Rock reservation, will temporarily halt the construction. But the head of the company building the pipeline has been a major contributor to Trump’s campaign, and with perhaps the most anti-environment president in memory about to enter office, the struggle is far from over.
“It is a temporary victory,” Denise McKay, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux told the Washington Post. “We’ve got to stay put and stay united.” Her daughter, Chelsea Summers, added, “everybody is still here for the long haul.”
We've Got a Month Until Inauguration Day. Here's What We Can Do Right Now.
Many people are still reeling from the election results and become more appalled every day with the appointments and behavior of the President -elect Donald Trump.
And many of our Sojourners readers are asking themselves and us: What can I do?
The politics going on now are indeed beyond our control — but we can control what we do with our own faith and with our own actions.
'A Lynching, With a Gun'
A good friend of mine, a well-respected black Christian leader, called it a lynching. But with a gun, and not a rope. I agree.
I’m talking about the shooting of Walter Scott, a black man in North Charleston, S.C., who was shot and killed by white police officer Michael Slager. Black citizen Walter Scott — who was pulled over for a malfunctioning brake light — was shot several times in the back as he fled Slager after a brief tussle. Scott was unarmed, running away, and at least 17 feet away from Slager when Slager opened fire and shot him in the back. After killing him, Slager dropped his Taser next to Scott’s body, which the prosecutors allege was an effort to make the case that he acted in self-defense.
Resistance and Healing
WHERE MUST we start as Christians and faithful churches after such a devastating election that brings the most dangerous man to the White House that we have seen in our lifetimes?
First, many people are terribly afraid, because they are from groups who were attacked and targeted in the campaign by the new president-elect. We must take those attacks seriously by reaching out in solidarity and protection to those who are now most vulnerable—undocumented immigrants, black and brown Americans, Muslims, women of all races, and LGBTQ folks. Members of these groups have already experienced ugly incidents of hate and violence, including increased harassment, vandalism, and even assaults on children and others in the wake of the election results. If I read my scriptures right, those are the people that Christians and other people of good conscience should now turn to in solidarity and support. That is what Christians are supposed to do: Support the poor, the vulnerable, and those under attack.
Second, we must make it very clear that honest and prophetic truth-telling about race in America will be needed as never before in our time, especially from white Christians. The fact that a majority of white Americans, at every level of class and gender, voted for a candidate who ran on racial and gender bigotry is even more distressing when we see that a majority of white Christians voted just like other white voters. And it is revealing that those who say this election was not about race are white, while Christians of color see race at the center of it. Repentance by white Christians in America will require the replacement of the white identity politics that dominated this election with faith identity politics.
One of the saddest aspects of the election for me is the fact that most white evangelicals voted for a man whose life has embodied the most sinful and shameful worship of money, sex, and power and who represents the very worst of what American culture has become.
Advent in 2016: Not Normal, Not Now, Not to Come
Now that the election is resolved, both the media and politicians have moved to “normalize” the president-elect, even if his personality and practices are far from normal. Let’s call this the great Washington “suck up” to power which goes far beyond the peaceful transition of power, which is an invaluable American democratic tradition.
But this is not normal. None of this is normal.
White Evangelicals and the Election
AFTER A LONG and extraordinarily toxic election, white people elected Donald Trump president of the United States. They weren’t the only ones voting, but the white vote—coupled with efforts to suppress minority voters along with diminished enthusiasm and turnout among all voters—was enough to make the difference. After beginning his political career with a racist birther campaign against the first black president, then starting his presidential campaign with a speech that viciously denigrated Mexicans and immigrants, Donald Trump won the election not in spite of but because of his bigotry.
One of the important moral discussions that will take place over the coming months is around the questions “Who did evangelicals vote for in 2016, and why?” White evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Trump, but evangelicals of color did not. In light of these results, we need to step back and ask much-more-basic questions, such as “What is an evangelical?” “What do evangelicals look like?” and “What issues motivate evangelical voters?” The answers are more complicated and more encouraging than what the media and pollsters have traditionally described and what the votes of white evangelicals in this election painfully showed.
In 2016, the conversation about who evangelicals are and what issues motivate them began to change. An influential declaration signed by 80 racially diverse evangelical leaders focused on their rejection of the racial and gender bigotry of Trump. It clarified the fundamental differences between older white evangelicals and a new generation of multiethnic evangelical leaders and what they care about.
One sign of progress is that when the media discuss religious voting preferences, they are now more likely to use the phrase “white evangelicals” as a category rather than assuming that the term “evangelicals” applies only to white people.
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