The Common Good

The Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Star Press Items
This week, a group of pastors called the Evangelical Immigration Table — made up of leaders of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Sojourners, the National Association of Evangelicals and World Relief — are gathered in Washington to leading a week of prayer for immigrants and Congress. They said they hoped to encourage the Senate to “vote for common sense immigration solutions that include an achievable road map to citizenship.”
Jim Wallis, leader of the evangelical group Sojourners, offered an astute interpretation of that finding: “Many evangelicals, and especially their younger generation, now see poverty as fundamental biblical issue and believe budgets are moral documents.”
Jim Wallis, preacher, author, editor of Sojourners magazine and frequent media guest, will speak June 8 at a banquet given by the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity in Kansas City. His latest book is The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post Religious Right America.
Many assume, Wallis said, that Obama was raised in a black church and just “gets” the cadences and vocabulary of religious rhetoric. In fact, Obama was raised by an agnostic Kenyan father, an Indonesian Muslim stepfather and a white American mother whom he has described as “a lonely witness for secular humanism.” It wasn’t until he was 37 that Obama heard an altar call and became a member of the United Church of Christ. His multicultural background enables the senator to connect with people from a variety of faith traditions, said his friend the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest from Chicago. They often like what they hear.
“People like Jim Wallis are trying to reclaim the Scripture,” says Ted G. Jelen, a political science professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “I’m not sure they represent anything like a mass movement, but the articulation of those values is pretty important.” Many observers credit Wallis, longtime editor of Sojourners Magazine, with being a prime early mover among people of faith who are trying to distance themselves from what’s often called the religious right. Wallis, an evangelical Christian but a social liberal, made a splash last year with his book God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. In it he argued that religious concerns should be much broader than abortion, evolution and gay marriage. Poverty, justice, war, the environment and human rights also are religious issues, he and others say.
"The monologue of the religious right is finally over and a new dialogue has begun," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, an evangelical Christian and long-time social activist, editor of Sojourner, a progressive Christian magazine and author of the best-seller "God's Politics."