The Common Good

Ryan Beiler: ...Speaking of Common Ground

In his entry for the Washington Post/Newsweek "On Faith" discussion (posted here earlier today) Jim Wallis talks about reaching common ground by going to higher ground. Case in point: conservative Christian columnist Cal Thomas, in his column "Christian conservative quandary," quotes liberally from Jim's blog entry about a broadened moral agenda for evangelicals and conservative Christians:

Could conservative Christians withstand another approach, one that reflects a more biblical strategy? Jim Wallis thinks so. ...

Mr. Wallis wrote, "A significant number of candidates elected are social conservatives on issues of life and family, economic populists, and committed to a new direction in Iraq. This is the way forward: a grand new alliance between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, one that can end partisan gridlock and involves working together for real solutions to pressing problems."

Mr. Wallis argues election results showed him "moderate and even some conservative Christians -- especially evangelicals and Catholics -- want a moral agenda that is broader than only abortion and same-sex 'marriage.' " Exit polls showed a shift of 6 percent to 16 percent fewer evangelicals and Catholics supporting Republican candidates than in the 2004 election.

One does not have to agree with all of Mr. Wallis' agenda - and I don't, especially on Iraq - to consider his arguments. Politics often dulls the senses to morality and "values." That's because of an unholy alliance between people of faith and politicians that often ends in compromise on the part of the faithful and the cynical harvesting of their votes with little offered in return.

Thomas adds:

What is God's way? Isn't it helping the poor through transformation and assisting them to do for themselves? Isn't it feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison and caring for widows and orphans? Would such behavior, rather than partisan politics, recommend their faith more highly to those who do not currently share it, or who do share it, but apply it differently?

Score one for the "grand new alliance between liberals and conservatives."

Ryan Beiler is Web Editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

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