The Courage of Conviction

After reading the first issue of Sojourners' precursor The Post-American in 1971, Sen. Mark O. Hatfield wrote to the editors, "I believe you may be helping to ignite a new movement of the Spirit in our land." Hatfield, an evangelical Christian and a Republican from Oregon, has remained a friend (and served as contributing editor) of Sojourners since that introduction. He announced earlier this year that this term in the Senate, his fifth, will be his last. Sojourners editor Jim Wallis interviewed Hatfield in July at his Senate office in Washington, D.C. —The Editors

Jim Wallis: It's hard to believe, in some ways, that you're leaving the Senate. Ever since I've been politically conscious, you have been, in my view, the political conscience of this body. You have raised moral questions that no one else was raising.

I remember years ago you gave a wonderful Prayer Breakfast speech about Vietnam, and President Nixon and Henry Kissinger were there, and you talked about the war as a sin. You have always been one to raise what you felt to be the moral question, which derived for you from your Christian faith. Is it possible to link faith and politics in a place like this?

Sen. Mark Hatfield: I'm not one of those who believes you can compartmentalize between your public and private life, between your spiritual and secular life. As I understood my commitment to Christ, it was an integrated commitment in all aspects of my life. I often say that my first commitment is to the Lord, my second is to my family, and my third is to my constituents. Keeping them in that order, I feel, puts me in the best position to serve my constituents.

I'm not suggesting my voting record should be blamed on the Lord. It's from my experiences, mixed with study, analysis, and intellect, that I take this position or have that viewpoint.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1996
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