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
Are Methodists Mirroring a Culture of Division? And Can We Do Better?
One could ask whether taking a vote from 800 delegates from different regions, cultures, and countries, but all part of an increasingly global United Methodist Church, is the best way to discern the will of God or how a denomination should move forward. That’s what former Methodist Bishop Will Willimon wondered to me yesterday, the day after the historic vote to strengthen the church’s “traditional” ban against LGBTQ clergy and marriages. Willimon was disappointed that “once again, the Methodist Church is a mirror of the culture.” The vote showed again how divided the church is, as the vote was nearly split down the middle. That split shows, painfully, that the church is no better place to heal division than anywhere else in our culture.
A Story Filled With Contradictions
ON JAN. 7, I was in St. Paul, Minn., where Peggy Flanagan was sworn in as Minnesota’s lieutenant governor. Peggy has been a close friend and ally of Sojourners for many years, serving as a member of our board executive committee, and she has been like a daughter to me and my family.
What I saw and heard from Peggy could be a glimpse of the future of American politics. It felt so different from the divisive political situation I had just come from in Washington, D.C. It was a historical moment as Peggy Flanagan was sworn in as the highest-ranking Indigenous woman ever elected to a state’s executive office. I would like to give my space to present her words, adapted from her inaugural speech:
“MY STORY IS a One Minnesota story. It’s about community. We didn’t have much growing up. What little we had, my mom used to make sure we got ahead. But it didn’t always add up. We needed help. I was the kid with the different-colored lunch ticket. We needed those free meals at school. Medicaid saved my life. As a kid with asthma, it’s the reason I’m alive today.
Growing up wasn’t always easy, but it made me strong. I stand before you today because of a loving family, a supportive community, and a great state. My vocation is to create community across Minnesota—a community like mine that lifts people up and provides them a little help when they need it.
The National Moral Crisis Is Already Here
On Ash Wednesday 2018, a group of elders met for a retreat together because of a national political crisis, which was also revealing a crisis of faith. At Pentecost, in overcrowded churches in downtown Washington, D.C., we launched a declaration that we called Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis. More than 5 million people have directly responded to the Reclaiming Jesus declaration thus far and many more have been reached by it and are addressing the declaration in their churches. A declaration is becoming a movement to re-claim Jesus; the message of Jesus needs reclaiming at a time like this.
The Real State of the Union
President Trump began his State of the Union speech by recognizing two anniversaries: the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when the American-led invasion of Europe initiated the defeat of the Nazis, and the 50th anniversary of America putting a man on the moon, pointing to astronaut Buzz Aldrin as an invited guest in the gallery. But he left out the most significant 2019 remembrance: the 400th anniversary of the first African slaves sold into human bondage in Jamestown, Va., in August 1619.
Thanks Be to God: Where We Begin Even Amid Chaos
Thanks be to God! For all the government workers and their families who will, hopefully, soon get their deeply deserved paychecks, we give thanks. For those of us who are constantly on the look out for what’s next on the breaking news horizon, this is a good place to start today: giving thanks to God. Let us first be thankful, then ask what is next.
The Moral Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy
THE TRUMP administration, members of Congress, and many media pundits often speak and act as if the United States must choose between acting in its own interest and respecting deeper moral values. That’s a false choice.
Events on the world stage in recent months have offered abundant reminders that the United States’ cozy and corrupt relationship with Saudi Arabia and its tyrannical royal family is a bipartisan moral failure with real costs in human lives. In the name of perceived national interests, the U.S. has long engaged in an amoral realpolitik throughout the world, especially regarding the Middle East. In 2019, this includes Trump’s defiant support for Saudi Arabia, despite rising dissension in his own political party.
In recent months, some in Congress and throughout civil society are more openly questioning the U.S. relationship with the Saudi Arabian leadership, for two major reasons.
The first is the four-year-old military campaign in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and materially supported by the U.S. that has created the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis. By November, the war had caused—by Save the Children’s estimate—85,000 Yemeni children to starve to death. Sufficient food is arriving to Yemen, but the economic devastation caused by the Saudi-led campaign makes it impossible for many parents to buy enough food to feed their children, and conditions on the ground make distributing emergency food aid extremely difficult.
A Call to Prayer: Reopen the Government
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history reveals the brokenness of our systems, the danger of a strong man exploiting that brokenness instead of trying to fix it, and the suffering of countless people, always beginning with the most vulnerable. It also painfully shows Washington’s current habit of blaming instead of solving problems, which has left our politics both polarized and paralyzed.
A Crisis of Trump's Own Making
First, racism is always based on lies; it always has been and always will be. We saw that again in Donald Trump’s address to the nation on Tuesday. It was more of the same lies he has used since he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015. He used his lies last night to try to justify his border wall, the signature issue of his political campaign and administration, which people on both sides of the aisle have said has nothing to do with border security and everything to do with Donald Trump’s central message: You should fear people who aren’t white. The wall would be Donald Trump’s 2,200-mile monument to white supremacy. As I have said before, in Trump’s political campaign he become the Chief Tempter of America’s Original Sin. Now as president, he has become the Chief Defender of America’s Original Sin.
It's Going to Get Worse in America Before It Gets Better. But 2019 Is an Opportunity
Strongmen, autocrats, and dictators don’t all do the same things. They do whatever they can to maximize their own wealth, power, and fame. The only thing that prevents them from going as far as they can is the resiliency of a society’s institutions and social sectors — like the media, the judiciary, political parties, law enforcement, civil society, and places of vocational or historical moral authority like faith communities.
So how are we faring on those fronts?
Be Not Afraid
Why does the God of the Bible, the angels who announce the birth of Christ, then Jesus himself, keep telling us, again and again, not to be afraid or to live in fear? Perhaps it is because our human nature makes us fearful. And what we most easily fear are the people who are “different” than us. Fear of “the other” is a very common human trait.