The Common Good

Wallis to Palin: You are not at fault but we are all responsible

Source: Sojourners
Date: January 12, 2011


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


CONTACT: Evan Trowbridge at / 202-745-4625 or

Tim King at / 202-631-7763



Rev. Wallis is available for comment



Wallis to Palin: You are not at fault but we are all responsible

WASHINGTON, DC — “Only the shooter is at fault for pulling the trigger, but we all are responsible for the violent nature of our society” says Jim Wallis in an opinion column that will run tomorrow, January 13th, in Politico. Rev. Wallis’ words stand in stark contrast to the comments released today by Sarah Palin, who said that “[criminal acts] begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state.”


From the column:


Only a small percentage of people in our country would ever murder. Jesus taught his disciples that violence goes much deeper than that. In the Sermon on the Mount, as translated in The Message (Matthew 5:21,22):


"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.



While the public square has been targeted, our elected officials can still redeem it from the violence that has forced its way in. They can do this through modeling for the rest of the country how to work with and relate to people with whom they disagree. Lessening violence in our society isn’t simply the process of stopping conflict but promoting a more safe, civil and peaceful public square.


We will never be able to stop all incidents of violence in our country but we can try and make them fewer. There are a lot of things we can’t control, but we can start with our own hearts and tongues.


Thousands of Sojourners readers have responded to Rev. Wallis’ call yesterday to sign a “Peace and Civility Pledge” that states:


We believe Jesus’ teaching that “Blessed are those who make peace” (Matthew 5:9). We acknowledge that most of us have been guilty of violence in our hearts and with our tongues. We hold ourselves to the higher standard to which Christ called us: to refrain from not only physical violence but violence of the heart and tongue. “Do not commit murder. Anyone who murders will be judged for it,” and “Do not be angry with your brother or sister” (Matthew 5:22-23).




Jim Wallis is the president and CEO of Sojourners, the largest network of social justice Christians in the United States focused on the biblical call to social justice. Wallis is also author of the New York Times bestsellers God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World, Reviving Faith & Politics. His latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.

Sojourners' mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit, and