God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis to Ralph Reed: Not Liberal nor Conservative

posted by jim wallis

Part three of a dialogue between Jim Wallis and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed on the question: “What should values voters value most?”

Jim WallisYou raise several interesting lines of thought in your response, Ralph. Let me try to address some of them.

My point that the Religious Right only focuses on one or two issues is not a “straw man.” I’ve looked at the promotional material and program for the “Values Voters” conference this weekend in Washington. The major opening plenary session is titled “The Preservation Of Traditional Marriage” and the website promotes a book titled “The Party of Death,” which claims to detail “how left-wing radicals, using abortion as their lever, took over the Democratic Party-and how they have used their power to corrupt our law and politics.”

And I saw several comments here to your post. One said, “I grew up in an evangelical right-wing conservative denomination, and have been a minister in it for the past decade. I have been troubled by my tradition for several years over many things. If conservatives have a huge agenda and are not based on 2 issues, I’ve never seen it.” Another person wrote: “As one who grew up in an independent Baptist church and who has an extended family deeply rooted in the Nazarene church, I can assure you that among such religious conservatives there are only two or three hot button issues: abortion, gay marriage, and school prayer.”

Some of your friends on the Religious Right do have private charitable agendas. But their political agenda is still mostly about two issues. That’s what they talk about, that’s what they mobilize around, and that’s what they use to the partisan advantage of Republicans. I heartily agree that many evangelicals now have a much broader agenda and that is precisely the point.

The Religious Right has now lost control of the evangelical political agenda and here’s why.

One year after the television images of Katrina were seared into our minds, thirty-seven million Americans still live in poverty, left out and left behind. Globally, thirty-thousand children die needlessly every day from hunger and disease. Certainly poverty is a moral value, and it clearly is for a new generation of evangelicals.

Despite official indifference and denial, the future of our fragile environment is in jeopardy as global warming continues unchecked. Caring for the earth that sustains us is also a moral value which young evangelicals now call “creation care.”

Insisting on full humanity and dignity for all people by opposing discrimination and oppression for ethnic or racial reasons, whether intentionally or due to systemic structures, is a moral imperative. Racism, human rights, sex trafficking, and genocide in places like Darfur are all now clearly on the Christian agenda.

Twenty-six hundred Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis are now dead. Daily violence continues to spiral out of control. The cost and consequences of a disastrous war, that many now believe is a distraction from the real fight against terrorism, is a moral issue. And attacking the war’s opponents as appeasers does not answer the hard questions.

But you still don’t see many of the issues above on the political agenda of the Religious Right. In fact, some leaders of the Religious Right have tried to keep issues like the environment and poverty off the evangelical agenda for fear they would distract from same-sex marriage and abortion.

The serious breakdown of both family and community in our society must be addressed. But we need serious solutions, not merely scapegoating others.

And wouldn’t coming together to find common ground in reducing the number of abortions be better than both the left and the right using it as a political litmus test?

The desire for integrity in our government is growing across the political spectrum. Corruption in government – how money and power distort and misguide our political decision-making and even our electoral processes – offends basic values. In a political culture with seemingly never-ending scandals, our values should insist on securing both electoral and lobbying reform, and ending how pork barrel spending and special interests sway policy decisions.

As I travel around the country, I find that the American people are weary of the left/right battle lines but are hungry for a “moral center” in politics, one that the media pundits cannot simply pigeonhole with the worn-out labels of liberal or conservative. We need a new dialogue that goes beyond those categories. I’ll come back to that point in my next post.

You ask about the Democrats on marriage and abortion. When I say that parenting has become a counter-cultural activity in America, all parents nod their heads–both liberal and conservative. But neither party has a genuinely pro-family agenda. The Democrats, as you point out, make a big mistake of not speaking the language of family values while Republicans have only an anti-gay marriage agenda, not a comprehensive family friendly platform that especially takes the needs of America’s working families into account. And abortion is a moral issues that Democrats should address (and are beginning to), but so is a consistent ethic of life (as the Catholics say) which Republicans violate by focusing only on abortion and ignoring so many of the other greatest threats to human life and dignity.

The real problem with Democrats is not their views on specific issues, but their reluctance to speak of their position on issues in moral or religious language. That is now changing ­ Sen. Barack Obama delivered a major speech on faith and politics at our conference this summer, Robert Casey spoke here in Washington last week, and Sen. John Kerry offered his yesterday. The American people want our elected officials make the deep connection between moral values and politics.

It¹s time to build a nation with a new set of moral priorities that advances the common good for all Americans and speaks in the language of values. But the moral agenda must be broader and deeper than the one the Religious Right continually poses. And a new dialogue on moral values could take us beyond the old liberal/conservative political straightjacket and truly move our nation forward. Do you agree Ralph?



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justintime

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:52 pm


I hope we don’t have to wait very long for Ralph’s responses to your excellent post, Jim. .>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:58 pm


It s time to build a nation with a new set of moral priorities that advances the common good for all Americans and speaks in the language of values. Do you not value your freedom? Do you not value your freedom of speech? Do you not value your freedom of religion? Do you not value your freedom of expression? We have everything you’ve described already. It’s called the US Constitution. Only when certain religionists recognize that this country is made up of different people of different faiths with different beliefs will we be able to convince them that we all share many of the same values….American values…not “Christian” values. Only then will we be able to work toward the common good (note: the “Christian” good is not necessarily the common good).>



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Will

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:00 pm


My church is showing “An Inconvenient Truth”, a film about Global Warming in a few weeks — we’re a moderate congregation in the suburbs and have Republican and Democratic members who care deeply about the environment. Are other folks churches speaking up about stewardship of the earth, care for creation? I know a lot of evangelicals my age who are passionate about ending the genocide in the Sudan, ending the war in Iraq and seeing that working people are a paid living wage. Why not have a “values agenda” that people on both sides can support — that call us all to a higher ground for the common good. Surely torturing people, dividing communities with ballot measures and scapegoating minorities is not a way to live out the way of Jesus. As the Psalmist says “seek peace and pursue it”, as Micah says “do justice, love kindness, walk humbly” as Jesus says “what you do for the least of these you do for me”.>



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Sue

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:04 pm


Gentlemen, Mr. Wallis states: “When I say that parenting has become a counter-cultural activity in America, all parents nod their heads both liberal and conservative. But neither party has a genuinely pro-family agenda. The Democrats, as you point out, make a big mistake of not speaking the language of family values while Republicans have only an anti-gay marriage agenda, not a comprehensive family friendly platform that especially takes the needs of America s working families into account.” I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to draw your attention to this lecture by Archbishop Williams. The title is “Who is bringing up our children?” http://tinyurl.com/zqntn I belive it is relevant to the discussion and would like to know your thoughts. Thank you.>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:04 pm


MNW: Some Christians (myself included) believe that some “American” values stand in direct contradiction to some “Christian” values. Thus, as Christians, we cannot necessarily accept those American values as substitutes for Christian values. And, I would suggest that whether or not the “Christian” good is consistent with the “common good” depends heavily upon your definition of “Christian” good. Among other things, it is necessary to distinguish between (1) Christ and His teachings, and (2) people who calle themselves Christians and who claim to be following Christ. I would submit that no greater common good could be achieved than if every single person were to follow Christ perfectly.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:10 pm


The very conference Wallis mentions happens to cover, in addition to the issues he mentions, Hollywood, Feminism, immigration, political involvement, media training, healthcare, education, impacting the culture through church, the church and state issue, and the war on terror. But, yeah, only abortion and gay marriage. Right.>



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Sue

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:19 pm


One more thing… Mr. Reed, you stated “In the end, what separates religious conservatives from their liberal coreligionists is not a broad versus a narrow agenda, but rather a liberal versus a conservative agenda.” I disagree, and will offer this in support: “Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less… Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land — of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.” This is from George Grant’s book, The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action. Do you support this view?>



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Daniel

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:26 pm


My experience in dialogue with the religious right is that the idea of ‘reducing abortions’ without outlawing them is exactly like ‘reducing vehicular homicide’ without making it illegal. I can appreciate that perspective. But I think that’s the implication of ‘changing the wind.’ When the wind changes, the complete victory will be won. But if we want to be strategic and get serious about valuing life, we can’t settle for establishing a punishment for taking life – we have to get proactive about changing the situation. I think the starting point for any cooperation for Christian mindsets has to be this: His will not ours be done. If we can agree on this basic premise that defines sin from the will of God, then we can start talking about every decision we make in terms of discerning His will. I’m so grateful for Jim’s giving voice to the prophetic point of view!>



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rowland

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:43 pm


I began my adulthood as a Reagan Republican/Christian Right voter. In college, I swung left, feeling as though my relationship with God was being dictated by others, and was not genuine. It took a few years, but I came back into a relationship with God that was at once much more sincere and much more complicated. I was no longer living by a script being handed down by others. My new faith required more thought and more questioning, and it was risky because it made me more responsible for my own actions. The conservative church today seems to walk lockstep behind Republican catch phrases and policies. Sincere Christian people are being led rather than leading. In addition, they seem to believe that codifying their beliefs into secular law will sanctify this nation. But secular law, like religious law from the Christian perspective, does not redeem. Only grace and humility before God redeems. So what if two men marry? Why should we care about school prayer? And what is the difference between children being aborted and children slowly starving to death abroad and being left without life saving health insurance here in the states? Christians, our job is to love. The hungry. The prisoner. The poor. The weak. The sick. The lost. The lonely. The children. And yes, the unborn. Why is the church wasting time playing politics and why is it allowing itself to be led around by the nose by non-believers (and believers) in government?>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:47 pm


Some Christians (myself included) believe that some “American” values stand in direct contradiction to some “Christian” values. Name some of these “contradictory” values. Thus, as Christians, we cannot necessarily accept those American values as substitutes for Christian values. I never said you had to substitute an American value for a Christian value…the problem arises when “Christians” or Christians decide that they need to substitute their Christian values in lieu of American ones. Americans don’t all agree with Christian values…but all (American) Christians should agree with American values.>



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seamus

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:53 pm


There is a vast difference between “values” and Principles. Values are personal; Principles are universal. The values discussion has done much to throw the country into a tailspin, as if only certain groups have values while others do not. But Principles (with a CAP P) are universally written into the hearts, minds and souls of every person on the planet. Principles include Freedom, Self-Determination, Self-Expression, Respect, The Right Use of Power for the common good (which includes self-sacrifice). We may differ in the values that we bring to society, but Principles are non-negotiable and cannot be sublimated by certain groups’ values. That’s what this debate is really about, not MY values vs YOUR values, but the use of Principles to allow the application of personal freedom without trampling on someone else’s.>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:58 pm


“Name some of these ‘contradictory’ values.” 1. Start with capitalism, consumption, etc. America tells us that more is better, bigger is better, we need to keep up with (and hopefully surpass) the Jones’, he who dies with the most toys wins, etc. Just days after 9/11, Bush told us to go buy stuff and support the economy. Curbing consumption was letting the terrorists win. 2. Self-sufficiency. America tells us that we should make it on our own, and be rugged individualists who don’t accept help from others. 3. The natural world exists for man to exploit. 4. American lives count more than lives of people from other countries, especially countries with cultures “very” different from our own. 5. Winning is everything. Competition is better than cooperation. 6. Enemies are to be bombed, shot, tortured, etc. To name a few.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:51 pm


D4P, None of what you’ve written is what I would consider an “American value”. None of those things are protected and cherished…as a value would be. When I think of American values, I think of our freedoms and the “rules of engagement” we are to live together under. Freedom of speech, freedom of ideas, freedom of expression, innocent until proven guilty, due process, justice, mercy, compassion…these are what I believe to be American values…and they are enshrined in the US Constitution. Do any of these contradict your “Christian values”?>



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Hip E.

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:53 pm


D4P- It is easy to say that the christians you disagree with aren’t “real” christians, and if everyone would be a real christian like you, the world would be perfect. However, all those other christians you disagree with – Falwell, Robertson, Bush, etc. – could and probably do say the same thing. The problem with christianity is not that people don’t try hard enough to follow the tenets, it’s that the tenets are vague, contradictory, illogical, and impenetrable. Christianity as explained in the Bible and in its many churches promotes a lot of good things, and, like Islam, it also promotes a lot of bad things. It’s clear to me that the reason there is so much disagreement over what God and Jesus want us to do is that they don’t really exist. Of course a book written by hundreds of disparate humans two thousand years ago and put through the ringer of multiple translations is going to be confusing and hopelessly outdated. Why would anyone take advice from a book that explains how a man should treat his slaves? Why would you try to find out something about the nature of the universe from a book that was written when people thought the world was flat and the sun circled around the earth? Obviously the authors didn’t have very good information.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:57 pm


My point about values is that until Christians, “Christians”, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Mormons, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, etc, etc, etc can come to agreement on A set of values and live together peacefully under such values we will continue the cycle of bullshit. Until “Christians” can agree that the United States IS NOT theirs to subjugate and that Americans are not all subject to their rules, we will continue to have strife. It is “Christians” that refuse to recognize the rights and priveleges other Americans are privy to…it is “Christians” that refuse to honor the dignity and respect the lives of those who don’t abide by their religious tenets…and it is “Christians” that refuse to recognize that THE REST OF US DON’T HAVE TO ABIDE THEIR SILLY RULES AND RELIGIOUS TENETS. The problem in this country is not with our values…the problem is in those who refuse to recognize OUR COMMON VALUES…OUR AMERICAN VALUES.>



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peter

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:03 am


mnw, as a foriegner i agree with d4p. american values are about getting yours and doing whatever it takes.i remember being a little boy 40 years ago and having different opinions but the last 25 years i have seen a great change.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:03 am


Rowland: So what if two men marry? See http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/660zypwj.asp and http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/126qodro.asp And what is the difference between children being aborted and children slowly starving to death abroad and being left without life saving health insurance here in the states? Why should I believe that pro-abortion Democrats would prevent worldwide starvation? Domestically, how many American die every day due to lack of health insurance?>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:06 am


Wallis writes that Democrats are beginning to address abortion. The truth of this claim will be demonstrated if the 95-10 initiative actually makes it through Congress with the parental notice and informed consent provisions intact.>



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Lee Stagg

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:17 am


I was seriously impressed by Reed s first response to Wallis. Even more impressed with Wallis thoughts right back at him. This exchange should be a model for how the right and the left talk to each other about values and faith and politics and I mean this sincerely. from: -Lee Stagg http://www.anagnosticchristian.com>



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wingnutcracker

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:22 am


If anyone needs a quick reference to what Reed and ilk mean when they use the term “values,” check the list here. http://www1.valuesvoter.org/declaration.cfm?host_id=VA1 While the list includes some Americans’ values, one cannot suggest that they are all American or even all Christian values. On the debate about Christian vs. American values – I think that Bellah does a great job of untangling the conflation in Habits of the Heart.>



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GAIL B PITTS

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:23 am


Why,do not the words one reads, the writeen word of God, given to Moses, not mean the same to all men?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:24 am


Why should I believe that pro-abortion Democrats would prevent worldwide starvation? Democrats ARE NOT “pro-abortion”. I don’t know anyone…ANYONE…who is “pro-abortion”. There’s a huge difference in being “pro-abortion” and pro-choice. Those who profess to be “pro-life” are really not “pro-life”, but rather, “anti-choice”. How can someone claim to be “pro-life” but support a political party that is “pro-death penalty”? Why would you believe that the “war party” (Republican) is “pro-life”?>



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Matthew Weyuker

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:30 am


What I hear missing is not the “problems” to be addressed, but HOW to solve them. Yes, homelessness, poverty and hunger are real problems here at home. The “liberal” solution to this “moral” dilemna is MORE government control! More taxes! More stealing from OUR paychecks!! The abortion issue: teens being allowed to get birth control products and abortions without parental knowledge and consent was a LIBERAL AGENDA item pushed by misinformed teachers and social workers! I do not believe you will find too many conservative or Christian groups that supported this in its infancy. NOW libs want more “curb appeal” are have “stuck their finger in the wind” to see which way the wind blows. Are the dems now going to change their position and try to seduce more conservative types to their side of the aisle?>



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Tim

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:30 am


I like the spirit of the dialogue so far between Ralph and Jim. I’m far less happy with the dialogue in the comments. It seems we just can’t get away from labelling and categorising and demonising and blaming. I suppose I’m ‘left’, but I have friends who are ‘right’. They aren’t evil people – they just see things differently from me. Can’t we learn from each other without all this rancour?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:31 am


as a foriegner i agree with d4p. american values are about getting yours and doing whatever it takes As an American, I disagree with you, Peter. To the Americans here, in particular the Christians, take a look at what Peter has written above…if it doesn’t make you pause and contemplate, then there’s no hope whatsoever of creating the “Christian Utopia” so many of you long for. It should cause great concern to every American to know that what was once the greatest nation with the hope for the greatest, most peaceful future, has now been reduced to nothing but greed and selfishness in the eyes of the rest of the world. So much for the idea that this nation is somehow “Christian” because based on what Peter has written I’d say it’s far from it…very, very far from it.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:33 am


The “liberal” solution to this “moral” dilemna is MORE government control! More taxes! More stealing from OUR paychecks!! Ahh…let me guess…you must be a “Christian”. Am I right? Because in my experience, it’s “Christians” who see taxes as theft, instead of what’s best for the COMMON GOOD.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:37 am


Can’t we learn from each other without all this rancour? I’ve no need to be taught about Christ and his teachings…or the warped ideas others have about it. If you want to diminish the rancor, then convince the “Christians” to leave their religion out of our secular government. If they have a valid reason to deny people their rights, etc then let them speak…but claiming religious tenets that support their prejudice and bigotry is not a valid reason to deny others their secular rights.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:46 am


Regarding “pro-abortion”: if thinking abortion should be legal makes one “pro-abortion,” does thinking lust should be legal make one “pro-lust”? Does thinking greed should be legal make one “pro-greed”, etc.?>



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Kathy Johnson

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:49 am


What do you think about Mason’s in the US?>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:50 am


MNW – The problem with telling Christians (or any other group) to leave their beliefs out of secular government is that you seem to assume that there is some kind of “value-neutral” set of governing principles that we can all abide by in harmony. In reality, it seems to me that ALL governing principles are based on values. The question is, which values should we choose? To some extent, this question is answered by our “democratic” process, in which different groups compete for superiority and to have their values represented. I’m not saying that system is ideal, I’m just not sure what a better alternative would be.>



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Literati X

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:53 am


Since I got your email, I’ll respond to your title of “God’s Politics”. I’m having problems right off the leftist front; God is not political, he is the divine creator of the universe and embraces all without concern for race, religion, color or creed. . . If God has an ideology based on man and his thought pattern, i’d like you show me. And the last time I checked in with God, he seemed to be displeased with you!>



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Drew Terry

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:55 am


Mr. Wallis might want to check the facts regarding his implication that the Values Voters conference in Washington only covers “one or two issues.” Here is the URL for the agenda for the conference. http://www.frcaction.org/index.cfm?i=WX06C14 Any honest observer will readily admit that this agenda covers a large variety of public policy issues beyond abortion and gay marriage. In addition, major forces within what the media calls the Religious Right such as Focus on the Family regularly highlight a variety of public policy issues such as immigration, the environment, and yes, poverty to their constituents. What does Mr. Wallis offer in support of his entrenchment on this underlying, but empirically contradicted, assumption? Comments from a couple of people posting on the blog who share this same assumption but who also offer no FACTS (other than their own feelings/observations) to support it! Mr. Wallis then goes on to discuss poverty and global warming as if conservative Christians don’t care about these important topics nor see the moral imperatives that they present. Again, where are the facts to support these assumptions? I can tell Mr. Wallis that my church in Texas, which is a conservative evangelical church to be sure, sent over 100 people to New Orleans to repair and rebuild inner city (serving the poor) churches in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina. While I think that many conservatives believe that the science on global warming is still questionable and question the political motivations of those making alarming climate change predictions, I do not know a single conservative who does not cherish the beauty of God’s creation and recognize our biblical mandate to be good stewards of the planet. Certainlly we may differ on how we should address these problems but why is there this ridiculous perception that conservatives don’t care about issues beyond abortion and gay marriage? Why do some people have these perceptions when they are most clearly (and provably) false? I would argue that there are two factors that cause these misperceptions: 1) people are lazy (fallen, sinful, etc.) and find it much easier to impugn the motives of people that dispute their long held assumptions than to listen to opposing views and engage in honest, reasoned debate, and 2) the media decides how to report the news and the media is biased in what they report (versus how they report, although there is some of that, too). Let me give you just one example of this type of media bias. Probably everyone knows the story of Matthew Shepherd, the gay man from Wyoming who was beaten and killed by 3 men. Hollywood even made a movie out of that story. However, the same week that Matthew Shepherd was killed, a 9 year old boy in Colorado was kidnapped by two gay men, who over a 10 day period, tortured, repeatedly raped, and ultimately killed the little boy. How many of you can name that little boy? Anyone? Why not? Was his life less important than Matthew Shepherd’s? Were his killers less despicable than the men who killed Mr. Shepherd? Certainly this story met the media’s standards for sensationalisim. Yet, not one national news outlet covered this little boy’s murder. Not one (not even the supposedly conservaitve Fox News). I would posit that they ignored this story because it did not advance their political agenda while Mr. Shepherd’s did. Herein lies the problem. We have a media that makes the editorial decision of WHAT news that they want us to hear. This is every bit as powerful as slanting the news in a certain way but it is much more insidious because it is harder to detect. How many people think that Al Gore is more intelligent than George Bush? Why do you think that? What is the empirical evidence to support that belief? It certainly cannot be educational achievement. Both men were C to C+ students as undergraduates at Yale. But George Bush went on to obtain his MBA from Harvard while Al Gore flunked out of both Law School and, get this, Divinity School, at Vanderbilt. Yet, the media would leave you to believe that Bush is some kind of dunce and Al Gore, Mr. Incovenient Truth himself, is some kind of super genius. Is it just possible instead that Mr. Gore parrots the same views on public policy as are held by most in the media, so narcissistically, Al Gore MUST be brilliant? I do agree with Mr. Wallis that Christians on both the right and the left have a responsibility to make the world that God has entrusted to us a better place. We need to support justice and dignity for all our fellow travelers on this mortal coil. The first step to coming together to do this is for all people to stop questioning that people who disagree with them do not share the same goals. If we can agree on the goal then the debate is limited on how best to achieve it. It is on that topic that Christians need to look to God’s Word for guidance. Afterall, He created a perfect world a we screwed it up by rebelling against Him. We have tried it “our way” perhaps it is time that we tried it His?>



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Eric Kirk

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:59 am


As I travel around the country, I find that the American people are weary of the left/right battle lines but are hungry for a moral center in politics, one that the media pundits cannot simply pigeonhole with the worn-out labels of liberal or conservative. First of all, thank you Mr. Wallis for a fascinating discussion, and thank you for your years of service and dedication to your values and the people around you. Are they really weary of the battle lines? Because it seems as though they are as intense as ever, and the voters respond to those appeals. It’s the same as with negative advertising in general – it’ll stop when people stop rewarding it with their votes. The real problem with Democrats is not their views on specific issues, but their reluctance to speak of their position on issues in moral or religious language. That is now changing Sen. Barack Obama delivered a major speech on faith and politics at our conference this summer, Robert Casey spoke here in Washington last week, and Sen. John Kerry offered his yesterday. The American people want our elected officials make the deep connection between moral values and politics. I don’t disagree with you, but as I am what you might term a “secularist” and cannot speak that language with any level of honesty, I guess I should step aside and let those of you with the faith hash it out. If I was to start using the language those of the faith would see right through it, and even if they didn’t, I wouldn’t feel right about it. Yet it seems this is what certain people are asking from leaders who perhaps simply can’t use the language with sincerity. So the question is, what should be our role in the discussion?>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:00 am


“We have tried it ‘our way’ perhaps it is time that we tried it His?” I couldn’t agree more. Our way: bombing, shooting, torturing, raping, pillaging His way: loving, forgiving, serving, praying>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:03 am


The question is, which values should we choose? To some extent, this question is answered by our “democratic” process, in which different groups compete for superiority and to have their values represented. The set of values we, the people have agreed upon are enshrined in the US Constitution. Unless a majority can muster a super-majority to amend the US Constitution, the rights of the people, ALL of the people, are preserved. The rights conferred by the US Constitution to ALL of the citizens of the United States are a reflection of what we, the people, the vast majority, value. I’m not saying that system is ideal, I’m just not sure what a better alternative would be. Me either. I think our system of government works pretty well…but it works particularly well when people respect it and abide to what they’ve agreed to. Twisting it for their own benefit, like claiming that judges are “activists” when they uphold the rights of some of the people, is one of the biggest problems confronting us…particularly when it distorts reality to the point that the ignorant are fooled…which isn’t that hard to do…and in my experience it’s “Christians” that are being fooled and their leaders that are distorting the truth for their own selfish gain. What I’m saying is that this idea that the United States is a “Christian” nation is a farce…A LIE…it never has been…it never will be…and to advocate such lies is tantamount to treason and an assault on the US Constitution and what it represents. It’s “We the people”…ALL OF US…not “We the Christian people”. The sooner “Christians” accept that fact, the sooner we get on to addressing the problems that confront us…the problems that confront we the people…the problems that confront ALL of us.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:09 am


MNW: I agree. 1. “Activist judge” is typically a phrase used by conservatives to mean “liberal judge.” Conservatives don’t complain about activist judges who give conservative rulings. 2. Yes, Christians are often fooled by leaders who exploit religion for selfish, “political” gain. This is partly why groups like Sojourners exist. 3. Yes, the idea that the US is a “Christian” nation is a farce. The irony is that the same people who call it a Christian nation are often the same people who tell us that it is overrun with secularists, gays, abortionists, environmentalists, etc. 4. I agree that Christians need to accept that non-Christians matter too.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:10 am


The first step to coming together to do this is for all people to stop questioning that people who disagree with them do not share the same goals. What is the goal of denying others their constitutional rights and equality under the law? I do not share this goal…and I never will…yet “Christians” most adamantly do. Please…help me to come to a point where I can agree with you and what you believe is “his” way.>



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Eric Kirk

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:21 am


Our way: bombing, shooting, torturing, raping, pillaging His way: loving, forgiving, serving, praying And killing fig trees because they don’t have any fruit. That was a joke folks. Just a joke.>



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Wolverine

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:26 am


Jim, I think part of what’s confusing you here is the dichotomy between “society” and “government”. In the conservative worldview Society is larger than government. Some issues are best addressed by government, and hence are the subject of political activism, while others can be effectively addressed by private groups, especially churches. Under the worldview of the contemporary left, non-governmental actors are motivated mainly by profit, and little happens to benefit the common good unless government leads. This worldview gives little credit to a wide range of institutions in civil society that are independent from government but are not directed towards profitmaking. The left will tend to assume that a lack of political agitation indicates indifference. This, I would argue, is a fallacy. The fact that an issue is not a political rallying point for Christian conservatives does not mean we are unconcerned; it will frequently be the case that we have another approach that is less governmental and political. The two issues that you point to>



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Drew Terry

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:27 am


D4P, I think that you are being a little hard on the US in your description of “our way.” Certainly there have been instances of the horrible things that you describe in our history but I don’t think that anyone would agree that these things are representative of the American people nor its government. I fully agree with your list of “His way” and I believe that Christians should be doing all of these things. I am trying to do these things myself and I find that the more time I spend doing them, the more joyful that I feel. I do have a sincere question for you, though. When, if ever, do you believe it is acceptable to go to war or to fight? Should we, as Christians be completely pacifists, always “turning the other cheek”? Even if we as Christians believe this, doesn’t our government have a duty to protect us? For example, the Islamo-fascists like Bin Laden, have stated that their goal is to convert every single person on the planet to their belief system. Those who will not convert will be killed. As a Christian, I cannot renounce my Savior even if it means my life. How does one deal with someone like Bin Laden without fighting back? It seems to me that sometimes, wars may be justified for nations based upon their duty to their people.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:27 am


MNW, Come on, man. Calm down. It’s a blog. D4P, I think that the conservative view of the courts is for them to stay out of legislative matters. Can you please offer an instance (or, better yet, a pattern of instances) in which judges have intervened on an issue that was out of their purview?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:38 am


Should we, as Christians be completely pacifists, always “turning the other cheek”? What would Jesus do? I don’t get it. I consider myself to be a non-Christian, yet I am a total peace-loving pacifist liberal. It sometimes seems like I abide the teachings of Christ more than the average American Christian…but then again…Christ was a liberal.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:43 am


I think that the conservative view of the courts is for them to stay out of legislative matters. What is a legislative matter? What is a judicial matter?>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:22 am


MNW: Democrats ARE NOT “pro-abortion”. I don’t know anyone…ANYONE…who is “pro-abortion”. There’s a huge difference in being “pro-abortion” and pro-choice. I use “pro-abortion” to refer to those who believe abortion should not only be legal, but totally unrestricted. By contrast, “pro-choice” moderates at least support modest restrictions such as banning partial birth abortions, requiring parental notification for minors and informed consent (providing information about abortion risks, alternatives, and fetal development) for all abortions, eliminating tax-funded abortions, etc.>



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Joey

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:40 am


I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I agree with Mr. Wallis; while I am very firm on my beliefs about abortion being wrong, I do agree that other issues—starvation, the environment, etc.—are also important and need to be addressed by my Republican Party. Huh. My first time opining, and I agree with the guy. I’m going to like this guy so much more than the soi-disant Swami. God bless!>



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Tenoch

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:42 am


Thank you Jim Wallis for helping Ralph Reed better understand the systematic problems with fundamentalist evengalicalism, as well as for explaining to Reed how your position does not rely upon the “straw man” fallacy, as you were accused.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:48 am


“When, if ever, do you believe it is acceptable to go to war or to fight? Should we, as Christians be completely pacifists, always ‘turning the other cheek’? Even if we as Christians believe this, doesn’t our government have a duty to protect us?” 1. Jesus commands us to love our enemies. For us to assume that there are times when we do not have to obey this commandment opens up a can of worms. Shall we pick and choose when to obey His commandments and when not to? Did He intend that when He gave commandments? To me, turning the other cheek and such, loving enemies, praying for those who persecute us, refusing to return evil for evil, etc. are precisely what make Jesus’ message so radical and so different from the rest of the world. It is important to point out that Jesus does not advocate sitting on our thumbs and doing nothing; on the contrary, He advocates a proactive approach that (I believe) is much more effective than resorting to violence. Loving, praying, forgiving, etc. are ACTS in and of themselves, and have much more potential to change other peoples’ hearts and minds than simply dropping bombs on them. 2. I suppose a secular government has a duty to “protect,” but I think a government that claims to be “Christian” has a responsibility to Christian means of protection. Remember: Jesus said that those who keep their lives will lose them, while those who lose their lives for Him will find them. To me, dropping bombs on other human beings to “protect” us is an example of keeping our lives. Being willing to risk our own lives by following Jesus’ radical example is more in line with what Jesus asks from us.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 3:04 am


I use “pro-abortion” to refer to those who believe abortion should not only be legal, but totally unrestricted. People who support legal abortion without restrictions are not, and never have been, “pro-abortion”. They’re pro-choice. It isn’t the government’s place to determine medical procedures a woman can or cannot have. That is a decision to be made by a woman and her doctor. It’s her choice…not yours…not the government’s. Abortion is a medical procedure. It is a medical decision to be made by a woman and her doctor.>



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Allan

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:00 am


“Among other things, it is necessary to distinguish between (1) Christ and His teachings, and (2) people who call themselves Christians and who claim to be following Christ. I would submit that no greater common good could be achieved than if every single person were to follow Christ perfectly.” Couldn’t agree more. In case anyone wants to send their representative a reminder of the differences: “>http://www.JustHisWords.com>



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J

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:31 am


“Globally, thirty-thousand children die needlessly every day from hunger and disease. Certainly poverty is a moral value, and it clearly is for a new generation of evangelicals.” We can chalk up about a million deaths a year to the environmental movement’s campaign against DDT alone, and their efforts against GM crops should keep hunger going strong as a killer. Of course the death of all those brown people is a small price to pay to preserve the sanctimony of our environmentalists. Is the left still concerned about fighting AIDS, or are they too preoccupied with criticizing the Bush administration to support their effort to, you know, do something about it. Poverty is a tough one. Spreading capitalism and development could pretty much cure that problem, but the left is a little too invested in promoting the same collectivist economic systems that killed 100 million people in the 20th century. But at least everybody was equal, sort of. “Twenty-six hundred Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis are now dead. Daily violence continues to spiral out of control. The cost and consequences of a disastrous war, that many now believe is a distraction from the real fight against terrorism, is a moral issue. And attacking the war s opponents as appeasers does not answer the hard questions.” Like who has killed the most Iraqis in your lifetime? Or the most Muslims?>



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the exile

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:38 am


wonderful debate/discussion on important issues, but I question the wisdom of having Ralph Reed be the spokesman for the Christian Conservative viewpoint. Through his actions he has already proven himself to be a liar and a Pharisee who worships only money and the Republican party. Remember the Abramoff emails where he boasted about fleecing stupid religious voters (I forget the exact words, but that was the gist– just google “Ralph Reed” and “abramoff emails”).>



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Wolverine

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:41 am


I see a danger in this “Just His Words” or “Red-Letter” theology, which focuses strictly on the sayings directly attributed to Jesus. As I understand it, the church has always considered both the red and black words to be inspired. So why the change now? This strikes me as a cutesy way of avoiding hard teachings attributed to St. Paul, as well as downplaying the actual narrative of the Gospels. Taken to the extreme, this approach also drains Christ’s own words of much of their meaning, by seperating them from the context in which they were uttered. Look, the only reliable record we have of Jesus’ own teachings is through the writers of the New Testament. If we can’t trust them, we can’t really rely on the sayings attributed to Jesus either. Genuine Christian theology will use both the black and red words in the Bible.>



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Wolverine

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:45 am


I agree with the exile’s remarks, and would also add that Ralph Reed’s star has been on the wane for nearly a decade. I wouldn’t say that he’s not worth talking with, if nothing else he has a lot of institutional memory from his Christian Coalition days. But hopefully he won’t be the only spokesman for Christian Conservatism on this site. Wolverine>



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Roger Christensen

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:08 am


The Christian right is being pretty openly exploited by Karl Rove for political purposes. He pushes ideas that he does not even believe in (he has said that he is an agnostic) in order to keep the religious base on his side. I believe that Reed and others are letting their religious beliefs be used for political purposes and often for personal gains.>



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Bob L.

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:20 am


MNW and others: I wanted to jump in and remind us of some “American Values” none of us are really proud of. The whole idea of “manifest destiny”: that we are here because we’re God’s special people, a light shining on a hill, I think, has led us to where we are today. Manifest destiny led us to take the lands native Americans lived on, slaughter or place them on reservations because many did not convert to Christianity. The Bible was used to justify this. Then we brought Africans over and made slaves of them, again using scripture as the guiding point. Many southerners who owned slaves were religious, and believed they were fighting for God in the Civil War. Jamestown, VA, and Massachussetts Bay are two examples of Christians who forced Christianity on the population, even killing or imprisoning if church was not attended. Historically, these compare to the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch trials, etc. The idea that we are God’s chosen nation means we can justify anything when we use the excuse “God told us so.” I would apply this to those who use the Bible to condemn homosexuality (the Bible is pro-slavery), keep women submissive (Bible says that too), while ignoring the numerous passages about God’s care for the poor, widowed, orphan, etc. Bush says he became President because God wanted him to, so anything he does: lead a nation to war for WMD’s they agree was the result of faulty intelligence, have marriage ammendments, domestic spying, torture, lowering environmental laws, cut food stamps, student loans, give tax cuts to the rich, etc etc. is used under the “guidance of God.” Many religious rught people go along with it because, “He prays and reads his Bible every day.” As long as “God” is mentioned, everything is ok. I guess we’re proving some think otherwise.>



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Bob L.

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:22 am


Jim, I’m also flattered you quoted me in your blog. If I never accomplish anything else in life… I’d love to write/speak for you if you came to the New England area.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:22 am


J, Excellent point about DDT. I have heard many on this board say “what about environmentalism? What about that as a moral value?” But we must be pragmatic about how we approach this issue, and careful not to value the lives of animals above the lives of humans. Wolverine, Wallis makes a habit of debating the most controversial (and discredited) of right-wing figures. It’s sort of his gig. Having said that, I think much of what has been leveled against Reed is unfair, and Wallis has had to resort to fudging about the nature of family values conference in order to deflect Reed’s “straw man” argument.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:23 am


MNW: Abortion is a medical procedure. It is a medical decision to be made by a woman and her doctor. What medical malady is “treated” by puncturing an unborn baby’s skull and sucking out the brains; tearing off an unborn baby’s head, arms, and legs; or scalding an unborn baby to death with saline solution?>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:30 am


“But we must be pragmatic about how we approach this issue, and careful not to value the lives of animals above the lives of humans.” Are you suggesting that we should value the lives of terrorists more than the lives of, say, our beloved household pets?>



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jessie

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:42 am


“The real problem with Democrats is not their views on specific issues, but their reluctance to speak of their position on issues in moral or religious language,” Wallis writes. So, Republicans are wrong and Democrats are right but they just need to repackage their message. Wallis has said previously that he’s not just telling Democrats to repackage their policies, but here he says so explicitly. I appreciate the honesty. I would like for him to also come clean about his views on his abortion: he always says he is “pro-life” but it is clear from his writings that this is just a label to him and he would offer no legal protection to unborn children. His position is the same as that of any politician who would call themselves “pro-choice”. Please be honest on this. It’s humorous that his post is titled “Not Liberal or Conservative.” Wallis is a liberal, and he takes no positions that would make any liberal uncomfortable. Does he expect any non-liberal to listen if he just toes the partisan, Democratic party line? This is not an alternative to politics as usual. Christians on the left howl when those on the right act like God is a conservative. Isn’t it equally wrong when a liberal “Christianizes” their own policies?>



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dlowen

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:00 am


Why the “dialog” with Ralph Reed, a man who like all other neocons, says one thing and does another? He is outraged at abortion unless it involves women whom his cohort has lured to Saipan with promises of “coming to America.” When they conceive from forced prostitution, abortion is fine since a pregnancy would hold up productivity. His “morals” are for sale to the highest bidder. How can one hold an ideological debate with one who holds no ideology other than wealth and power?>



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Quinn Olinger

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:18 am


This country was founded on “Christian values” and even had the Scripture references next to the laws on the books. The General Laws and Liberties of the Massachusets Colony is a good example including Scripture references along with the list of capital crimes. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/vc006523.jpg Less than 3,000 US soldiers have died in Iraq over the past 3 years. OVER 3,500 US babies are murdered each day through the terrorist act known as abortion. Wallis said “It s time to build a nation with a new set of moral priorities that advances the common good for all Americans and speaks in the language of values.” The right to life is the greatest priority for the simple fact that once that right is violated none of the other rights matter since a dead person is not concerned with freedom of speech, religion, the right to bare arms, etc. Barack Obama voted against the live birth abortion ban while he served in the Illinois congress. For those who don’t know, a live birth abortion is one where they deliver the baby and lock him/her in the room until they die. This occured regularly at Christ Hospital in Oak Park, IL until a nurse with a conscience named Jill Stanek blew the whistle on the practice. The idea of “finding common ground on abortion” may sound like a nice, warm and fuzzy idear that those who recognize the right to live and those who don’t can agree on and work together on. But, keep in mind, the abortaholics make their money from slaughtering defenseless, innocent babies. They’re not our friends or partners. They are the enemy and must be defeated. Victory is obtained through ending the slaughter. Not through compromising on Thou Shall Not Murder Jim. because once you compromise on Thou Shall Not Murder what won’t you compromise on? Conservatives are well-informed when it comes to the environment and so-called global warming. That’s why we don’t call people to go into some sort of panic since we realize that the temperature will begin to NATURALLY decrease relatively soon since it naturally rises and falls over time. We know, and Wallis apparently is unaware of that: The global average surface temperature has increased by 0.6 0.2 C since the late 19th century. — Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), page 26. We estimate that the sun contributed as much as 45 50% of the 1900 2000 global warming… — Phenomenological solar contribution to the 1900 2000 global surface warming , Geophys. Res. Lett., 33 Check it out http://www.junkscience.com>



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paul harris

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:20 am


Why do christian homosexuals want to get married? Why wouldn’t a christian want to turn away from sin rather than toward sin? I know I sin everyday. But I feel the guilt and forgiveness every moment. I don’t try to keep sinning; I try not to sin. Wouldn’t Christian homosexuals marrying only perpetuate their sin?>



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Quinn Olinger

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:24 am


I must second Wolverine’s statement on ignoring the inspired Scripture written by the Apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Peter and the rest of The Twelve were sent to convert Israel….and failed Gal 2:7-9). Paul’s words trake precedence over ALL OTHER SCRIPTURE precisely because Christ gave to him the most recent “economy” or set of “house rules” for the present-day church (the dispensation/administration/house rules of the grace of God Eph 3:2). The first place to look when deciding a doctrinal matter is Paul’s epistles. To ask “What did Paul say?”. If you are having a hard time understanding why we should go to Paul’s epistles first, then check out the articles on this site. http://www.biblicalanswers.com Or contact me through my MySpace profile.>



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Robert Starnes

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:32 am


Overall, there is the sense that the Christian resolve to act on the supposed “rational” and “objective” realism of morals has transcended this debate altogether. Let us now attempt to understand that the God Who has given man a moral sense requires that he do more with it than engage in an argument with secularists, relativists, and all the non-believers out there. Bravo to Wallis for at least attempting to transcend the Christian hypocrisy by returning to the roots of the early church. Was it even “Christian”, by “The Way”?>



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BH

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:34 am


When it comes down to protecting unborn children. I’m pretty certain a lot of work has been done on the ground that has protected and saved and significantly helped a lot more unborn children than any action from Washington could ever do. The priorities of politicians are not going to be even close to the realistic priorities that can be achieved though religious belief and the Constitution. When it comes to protecting marriage, marriage is under more of an attack from domestic violence, from adultery, and from the people who get married too quickly. That leads to divorces. When it comes to ways to use values and beliefs to help people. Just immediately going to the government isn’t a good solution. Especially considering it’s track record in the last 5 years and 8 months. If any phrase is useful for me, pro-choice could be one. I think the labels are just a way of declaring a war on any sort of work in the middle. The 95/10 proposals have a lot of pretty good ideas for tackling the problem on Abortion. I could just say that I wished that people didn’t choose Abortion. But, would you express regret at the growth of a plant in other to change other plants? Or would you go to the root of the problem? The root of the problem involves all sorts of murky things. Premartial sex, and unprotected sex. And getting people to lay off things of that sort will require more than just saying “Don’t” or just saying “Ya know, you can get pregnant that way”. Maybe there isn’t a good way to get people to stop making mistakes when it comes to that sort of thing. Some people will always be ignorant and stupid when it comes to these situations. Although, I’m weary of any approach which removes children from the radar screen afterbirth. There’s a variety of reasonable and useful things that could be offered to help out newborns and their mothers. That might go against the “Starve the Government” approach of some. But, boo hoo. The Government should be big enough to get vital things done, and fit as well. Also, while i’m covering 50 things. The US was not founded as a Christian nation. There are various values which Christianity and the U.S. Constitution share. But the Founders made sure that there wouldn’t be a favored religion, as was the case in pretty much every nation in Europe. The US isn’t a Christian nation, but a nation with a lot of Christians in it. Also, trying to read minds when it comes to what side God is on in US Politics is useless at best, and an insult at worst. But it’s slightly more useful than ignoring all the blinking signs while trying to make another End Times prediction.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:55 am


Quinn, Are you suggesting that the IPCC doesn’t believe that human-induced global warming is a very real problem that should be addressed through public policy? You might want to check out: “>http://www.creationcare.org/resources/climate/>



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A thoughtful Christian

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:34 am


I am a conservative “right wing” Christian. I oppose sex trafficking, the slaughter in Darfur and want to see the poor helped. I also believe that same sex marriage is an unbiblical disaster that must be fought and that cultural forces want to censor the Christian message. I am open to the notion that Christians need a broader agenda, but I emphatically disagree that opposition to abortion, support for traditional marriage and opposition to the censorship of Christian principles in public are “the wrong issues” that we really should not be working on. My problem with Jim Wallis, Sojourners, Tony Campolo, etc., is that I feel they would be happy, really happy – if the minimum wage was raised to $25 an hour, we had Canadian government-controlled health care, we withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan (and allowed them to come back under tyranny), the “rich” had their taxes doubled or tripled, and that it would not matter to Jim Wallis and Sojourners if along with all of that we had legalized same sex marriage, abortion on demand funded by unwilling taxpayers, and suppression of religious speech, loss of tax exempt status for religious groups, etc. if they did not support government policies. If the poor are helped, I get the feeling that Sojourners would not care about the moral state of Americans or their walk with Christ if they were satisfied that the poor were being helped and nobody was fighting an enemy anywhere. I do not view a secularized, weak European welfare state as God’s goal for nations. Mother Teresa helped the poor, and I am sure she opposed abortion and probably same sex “marriage” too. Sojourners comes across as the religious auxiliary to the leftist wing of the Democratic Party, not as a prophetic voice decrying that party’s walk away from Biblical truth in such areas as marriage. It would help your credibility a lot to use your prophetic voice to condemn the liberal Democrats on some “conservative” issue. Or do the Democrats get a pass because they want to spend other people’s money to help the poor and are antiwar? Don’t you all have the same problem of a narrow agenda (help the poor, no war) that the Lord may want you to expand and refine?>



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Not a pacifist

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:39 am


My problem with deriving pacifism from verses like, “turn the other cheek,” means the government can have no army and no police department. So, when a rapist violates a woman, it would be wrong to stop the rapist, and we must tell the woman to “turn the other cheek.” Police could not stop burglars and thieves, but could only tell their victims to “turn the other cheek.” Obviously, Jesus was addressing personal morality, not the morality that a government should live by.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:43 am


“Obviously, Jesus was addressing personal morality, not the morality that a government should live by.” But governments are made up of persons, aren’t they? Does being in government exempt people from needing to follow Jesus’ commandments?>



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Jack

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:25 am


“Politics is a means of preventing people from taking part in what properly concerns them” (Paul Valery 1871-1945). WAKE UP! That’s the literal translation of the word translated “truth” in the New Testament. When is everybody going to “WAKE UP!” and stop falling for the Devil’s oldest trick in The Book: Divide and conquer! Cain vs. Abel…Jews vs. Gentiles…Men vs. Women…Whites vs. Blacks…Christians vs. Moslems…and of course, Democrats vs. Republicans. May “The Light of the World,” enlighten Believers blinded by fear, pride, patriotism, or partisan politics, so they might see our real enemy: “The Father of Lies,” the true terrorist that “sows discord” among us so that we’ll “bite and devour one another.” “The Powers of Darkness” are vampires who feed upon the negative energies supplied by our human misery. WE MUST NOT participate in “fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather, expose them!” WE MUST BECOME “imitators of Christ” to be the “salt of the Earth” – not “salt in the wounds” – not even those of our enemies! We are to preserve and add flavor, not “return evil for evil” and increase bitterness. “The Prince of Peace” has given us the ultimate “political litmus test” for discerning authentic spiritual transformation: “Judge a tree by its fruits” – of the Spirit, like love, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. (But “goodness” doesn’t require stupidity, Jesus confirmed when he advised his disciples to “Be wise as serpents, but innocent as doves.”) Bearing this kind of fruit, “faith the size of a mustard seed,” truly could move the mountains of lies, fears and betrayals piled upon us by those in power parading as “angels of light” and “wolves in sheeps’ clothing.” “WAKE UP!” Work to promote truth, understanding, respect and unity so we, the people, can stand against “the wiles of the Devil” to divide us and conquer. CONSIDER THESE 10 POINTS OF WISDOM: 01- “Naturally the common people don’t want war. But it is the leaders who determine the policy. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That’s easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” (Hermann Goering, Nazi officer on trial at Nuremburg). 02- “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” (President Harry S. Truman). 03- “The government, which was designed for the people, has gotten into the hands of…the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.” (President Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921). 04- “There exists a shadow Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fund-raising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.” (Sen. Daniel K. Inouye). 05- “A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.” (Aristotle). 06- “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, they will come under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” (President James Madison, “Father of Our Constitution”). 07- “A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there.” (William E. Dodd U.S. Ambassador to Germany, 1937). 08- “The process of the transformation [of America] is likely to be a long one, without some kind of catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.” (PNAC Strategy Report 2000) [read more here: http://www.sundayherald.com/np/27735 and http:// and http://www.newamericancentury.org/publicationsreports.htm ] “Today, we had our Pearl Harbor.” (President George Bush, 9-11-2001). 09- “The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.” (J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the CIA). 10- “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” (George Orwell) “WAKE UP!” Our beloved America is the Beast of Revelation! “…Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself…All your riches and spendor have vanished…The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more…of gold, silver…and the bodies and souls of men…The light of [Liberty's]lamp wil never shine in you again…your merchants were the world’s great men, by your magic spell [materialism, consumerism] all the nations were led astray (Revelation 18 ) [read more: “>http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/thebeast.htm>



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Jack

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:54 am


Somebody once summed it up like this: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.>



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jackie

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:01 am


Thank you, i have waited a voice of reason for some time. It’s also wonderful to have a place to exspress truth. again thank you! j>



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jackie

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:06 am


Amen, sadly American values do not resemble CHRIST at all. We, meaning in mass, are the lead destroyers spoke of in Revelation 11:18. and as those of truth know, HE destroys the destroyers of the Earth. j>



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Tom

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:22 pm


Face it: We humans are hypocrites all. Those who claim to be “pro-life” tend to ignore the fact that the right to life does not end at birth. Those who are pro-choice still are uncomfortable at the choices some people make. We denounce “activist” judges, yet ignore the activism of judges who rule in our favor. Kevin S: Chief Justice Rehnquist in the opinion denying citizens the right to sue their own state admitted they were assigning things to the Constitution that weren’t there from the founders. Judge (now Justice) Samuel Alito upheld the sexual abuse (strip search) of a ten-year-old girl whose person and clothing were not mentioned in the warrant in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment, yet he was confirmed to the Supreme Court, anyway. Yes, judicial “activism” cuts both ways. It seems those screaming the loudest about “traditional marriage” are those with the worst record in that regard: Newt (deadbeat dad) Gingrich, John (adulterer) McCain, Rudy (philanderer) Giuliani, etc. Also, research shows that those who scream the loudest about other people’s sexuality are those who are least secure in their own. Benjamin Franklin said, “Clean your finger before you point at my spots.” Of course, I don’t need to remind you what Jesus said about motes and beams.>



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Kevin Kelly

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:44 pm


Here’s a simple solution to “God’s” politics: religion is spiritual fraud. Jesus said that. religion cannot 100% prove their beliefs, therefore disquailfy them (the religions) from ANY THING TO DO with God or spirituality. Solution: Create a personal, direct, divine relationship with OUR CREATOR, GOD. It’s 100% proven. GOD is 100% proven, life, the universe, humanity are 100% proven. Jesus had created a personal, direct, divine relationship with GOD and other people with a higher consciousness has through out humanity has too. Jesus was one of the people that had the higher consciousness. He was a great human being. religion MADE Jesus a god, the only son of god, religion’s god. That’s the TRUTH in a nutshell. Believe it! It’s TRUE. p.s. Faith is something people have when they don’t have the proof and truth about something, especially GOD and spirituality.>



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Daniel

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:49 pm


A comment on pacifism. Tolstoy is the seminal Christian writer on the subject and from whom Gandhi learned the idea of nonviolence. He centers his argument not on “turn the other cheek” but “resist not he that does evil,” the first part of that verse. I do not take this as a commandment but as a strategy for ending cycles of violence in the long run. As Jim points out from Micah, there is no security unless you give your neighbors security first. However, we must distinguish between protective and punitive force. In the short run, tactical force might be necessary in order to protect the innocent. In God’s Politics Jim quotes Stanley Hauerwas’ distinction between force and violence and uses it as the basis for suporting an international policing response to terrorism rather than a War. I’m Anglican but for the Catholics in the house I’ll also point out that as a cardinal the current pope issued an opinion [in a private letter that was made public] that bishops ought to deny the eucharist to people who are pro-choice or pro-euthanasia but may still give it to people who are pro-war or pro-death penalty, as those latter two may in some circumstances be justified. If they can be justified then violence must on occasion be legitimate. Oddly, in his recent controversial speech the pope argued that violence is unreasonable and therefore contrary to the nature of God. Not sure how he reconciles the two. Loving your neighbor means you might have to save him or her from violence by force. The protection of the innocent and the downtrodden is an absolute good. Also, Thomas Merton argues that allowing someone to go on sinning (i.e. commiting violence on the innocent) is not love but hate. SOmetimes we have to love our neighbor by inflicting pain, whether physical or purely emotional – it is only pain that leads humans to change for the better. (See CS Lewis’ problem of pain for a development of that point.)>



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Drew Terry

posted September 20, 2006 at 3:06 pm


D4P, to take your answer to the logical extreme means to meekly submit to death at the hands of another. It also means that I must do the same even if it costs the lifes of my children. I am not sure that Jesus has commanded me to do that. I completely agree with you about the command to pray for your enemies. As much as my human nature struggles against it, I pray for Islamic terrorists hearts to be turned toward the truth of Jesus’ message of peace. Our job as Christians is to pray. It is God alone who has the ability to change the human heart. For those people on this blog who keep stating that the US is NOT a Christian nation, I am not sure what you mean. A recent poll conducted by Baylor University showed that 81% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. If what you mean is that we are not a Christian theocracy, then I agree with that statement. However, we ARE a nation whose Constititution is based upon Judeo/Christian principles and our founding fathers explicitly recognized this fact. Thomas Jefferson believed that democracy was not possible without a people grounded in Judeo/Christian morality. Based upon what we are seeing in the Middle East, I fear that he was right.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 3:31 pm


Live and let live. Why is that such a difficult concept for Christians to comprehend? Why do Christians feel the need to force their beliefs on everyone else through the enactment of civil laws that “defend” their religious beliefs? Can any of you Christians explain how this divisiveness will create a stronger union in this country? I do hope you all recognize how divisive these Christian attempts at forcing Christian beliefs on everyone else is in this country. I don’t need your God, I have my own. I don’t need your “savior”, I have my own. I don’t need anything you have to offer in regards to religion, spirit, God, myth, church, etc, etc, etc. Only when YOU, and the rest of the Christians in this country recognize that not all people need to believe in YOUR faith, YOUR religion, YOUR Jesus, YOUR God, etc etc etc will this country once again be united. Leave it in YOUR church…it has no place in OUR public square. What I think is ironic is that if you’d leave it in your church, and instead demonstrate through your actions in the public square that YOUR religion, faith, God, etc is worthy of others’ curiosity, you’d find that people would be more attracted to your faith…instead of being so repulsed by it.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 3:34 pm


As much as my human nature struggles against it, I pray for Islamic terrorists hearts to be turned toward the truth of Jesus’ message of peace. I pray that OUR leaders hearts will be turned toward the truth of Jesus’ message of peace. Clearly, they know nothing of it.>



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Lutheran intern

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:05 pm


What befuddles me so much in this discussion is that the ACTUAL work of Jesus is pushed to the back. We do not go into the world with the WWJD mandate. We must be in the world because of what Jesus DID do. There is not one person who is outside the love of God in Christ Jesus and by using Jesus as a weapon politically it drives many from that understanding of a relational God who faced the most unpopular sort of public coverage ending in a public execution. Our Lutheran lexionary for this week (Mark 9:30-37) has Jesus wrapping his arms around a child and saying that welcoming a child into our midst is welcoming both Christ and God. This is not a warm, fuzzy thought but glaringly anti- political. A child can do nothing to further your career, your influence or your income. A child has no voice and no vote. We are to be love in the world to those who have no voice. Jesus was as counter cultural to his bewildered disciples as a politician who works for the votes of the homeless, substance addicted and criminal would be to us today. Jesus is not about baby kissing for the photo op but about crawling under a bridge to feed a hungry, homeless junkie in secret. Peace!>



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Greg Taylor

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:06 pm


I am moved emotionally by this dialogue and agree that many around the country still are wrapped in the notion that moral issues are a few hot button items, but after reading Will’s comment (2-3 comments before mine), I am reminded how many conservative and orthodox Christians worldwide are shedding that “co-opted by political powers that be” notion of a few moral issues and championing solutions for world hunger, peace, justice with sustainable farming, courageous peacemaking even in war zones, microloans and business as mission, and martyrdom.>



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Julio

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:21 pm


Before we start the same dead end tug-a-war on the issues. I think it pertinent to let facts have some say. If the Religious Right claims a broader spectrum of advocacy, where are the results? I think there is an underlying issue that goes back to the theological divide between belief and deeds. War, poverty, greed, racism seem to me much broader startegy than gays and abortion. It is the difference between tactics and strategy. Isn’t easier to rally people behind abortion and gays than to address the depths of the American consciousness and our leadership leanings toward retaliation, power, dominance, and disconnection?>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:23 pm


Tom, In his dissenting opinion in the Doe v. Groody case (I think it was Groody) he expressed his dislike for the actions of the police officers, but did not believe that it would be following precedent to overturn the case. Further, the question before the justices was not whether strip searches ought to be legal (they are), but whether the police had obtained the proper documentation to conduct it. To say Alito advocated sexual abuse, in the context of a discussion regarding judicial activism, is to suggest that the police were taking sexual advantage of the girl, and that Alito admired this action so much that he is willing to set aside the Constitution in order to promote it. Please. Further, the adulterers you cite have hardly been the most vocal on preserving the family, though many politicians have been hypocritical in this regard.>



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fullmoonwolf4real

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:36 pm


“It s time to build a nation with a new set of moral priorities that advances the common good for all Americans and speaks in the language of values.” It will take more than a major reduction, or end of, racial discrimination. All religions in America, (and the whole world) need to rise above the very un-holy dissention between their own denominations as well as hate of other religions, a hate that is caused by their own dogma. The Bible DOES say “let there be no dissention between the temples” Aren’t Jehova, God, and Ahala, the same God that warned Noha of the flood, and sent Moses to free the Isrialites? Didn’t this God give a set of morals to be followed by all? Even the pagans Follow a similar moral code, “And it harm none, do as you will” that is to say, if you would not want to recive that treatment, don’t treat others that way, You might know this by the name, “The golden rule”. (pardon any mis-spellings)>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:38 pm


One of the reasons that the issues of abortion and gay marriage infuse passion among the religious right is that they speak to clear areas of right and wrong, in the scriptural sense. I think there is some shallow thinking in this regard. Take, for example, the welfare reform act of the mid 1990’s. Once the Government stopped writing the checks, people went back to work, and the economy has improved as a result. It’s great policy, but it is hard to pinpoint the Biblical basis for it (that doesn’t mean the Biblical case cannot be made, just that it is more complicated). Same with, for example, school choice. Christians care immenesly about this issue, but there really isn’t a scriptural provision for being able to home school your kids. Again, I disagree that the “Gods, guns and gays” strawman can be used to bludgeon all religious conservatives, but I think that might be part of the reason.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:48 pm


One of the reasons that the issues of abortion and gay marriage infuse passion among the religious right is that they speak to clear areas of right and wrong, in the scriptural sense. I think there is some shallow thinking in this regard. It’s not “shallow thinking”…it’s willful ignorance. In regards to gay marriage…ahem…anything and everything gay…it’s willful ignorance in support of deeply held prejudice and bigotry. It’s much easier to blame one’s religion for one’s deep-seated prejudice than to admit that one harbors such prejudices…much less admit that one might actually be tempted by such things (as gay sex).>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:54 pm


…and one more thing, Kevin S. There is nothing “clear” about gay marriage…or anything gay…in “a scriptural sense”.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:10 pm


That is what it’s all about…isn’t it? Temptation. What is “sin”, without temptation?>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:18 pm


MNW You define opposition to gay marriage as hatred and bigotry. There can be no discussion with you in this regard. i get it. So what say you to a fellow such as Jim Wallis, who supports gay unions, but won’t introduce it into the dialogue because it is bad for his political cause? Is he complicit in the bigotry as well?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:24 pm


You define opposition to gay marriage as hatred and bigotry. There can be no discussion with you in this regard. i get it. How do you define? Are you one of those Christians that blames your religion? What rational (read: non-religious) argument can you provide to support the continued irrational discrimination towards gay couples? Or do you not recognize that it’s irrational discrimination? Do you recognize it as being discrimination at all? So what say you to a fellow such as Jim Wallis, who supports gay unions, but won’t introduce it into the dialogue because it is bad for his political cause? How is it bad for his political cause? What is his political cause? Is he complicit in the bigotry as well? Sure…but he is more complicit in his fear…it surely isn’t love.>



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Anonymous

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:28 pm


MNW, you said Christians should leave their religion at home. I’d like to offer a different perspective, in logical steps for clarity: 1. The moral code that is expressed in all major religions (The Tao) is universal. It’s essence is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 2. There is no rational basis for The Tao. Why is it good not to kill? Why is it bad to be racist? We hold these truths to be self evident. 3. Therefore it is impossible to appeal to any ethical guidelines without an irrational belief on the nature of the universe and how we ought to relate to it – aka a ‘religion.’ 4. When you demand religion be kept out of the public square, you are asserting to your own right to Freedom. 5. Asserting this right is inherently a religious action, whether it stems from a postmodern existentialism or from an ancient wisdom tradition. 6. Therefore, doing so is merely asserting your religion (secular fundamentalism) in place of mine (Christianity) because you believe yours is right and mine is wrong. 7. Liberal democracy celebrates the freedom of speech and the participation of pluaral voices. Fascism seeks to silence offensive speech and reduce participation to a singular voice. 8. Therefore the request is inherently fundamentalist and fascist. Judging by the values you are expressing (liberty, pluralism) I don’t think that’s where your heart is. Your pain over people who have bad religion is supporting very sloppy thinking on your part. Be careful what you wish for….>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:29 pm


Yawn.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:31 pm


You can claim that “secular fundamentalism” is religion all you want…but it just makes you sound like the delusional Christians currently manipulating the majority of Christians in this country. It’s not about religion or faith. It’s about reality. I don’t need a religion or faith to determine what’s right and what’s wrong. Neither does OUR government.>



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Morgan

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:33 pm


I whole-heartedly agreed with Mr. Wallis, up until his last paragraph, when he called on politicians to couch their positions in religious. I am not opposed to this, but as a member of a non-Christian religion, I am wondering how a non-Christian politician, who bases his or her policies in his or her faith, would be recieved. How would the public react to the senator who opposes euthanasia because it disrupts the natural death-rebirth cycle and produces bad karma, according to his Hindu faith? Or the representative who supports an initiative that would allow school children to leave their classes to pray during the afternoon, because as a devout Muslim she follows the duty of the Islamic faith to pray five times a day at specific times?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:34 pm


Do you sense my pain, anonymous? Are you not pained by what you witness? If not, then I pity you…and your cold, dead heart.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:38 pm


Morgan, I think you’ve hit on EXACTLY what the problem is… …according to his Hindu faith? …as a devout Muslim Y’see…politicians are not elected in this country to represent themselves or their religion or their religious beliefs… THEY ARE ELECTED TO REPRESENT THE PEOPLE….ALL OF THE PEOPLE. Until Christians understand that FACT, we will continue to spin in circles. A politician could not be acting upon his/her own beliefs and faith…he/she should be acting on what’s best for EVERYONE HE/SHE REPRESENTS. That is the crux of how our representative government is failing us…ALL OF US.>



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Wolverine

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:41 pm


I would like to take a second to distance myself from Quinn Ollinger’s 12:29 AM post. I simply raised a concern about “Red Letter” theology that focused exclusively on those sayings directly attributed to Jesus and downplayed the rest of the New Testament. All of scripture is valuable and all relevent passages should be considered in any discussion of Christian theology or morals. I did not assert that St. Paul’s writings were superior to other books of the new testament. That would be going too far in the other direction. Hope that clears up any misunderstandings.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:47 pm


“Y’see…politicians are not elected in this country to represent themselves or their religion or their religious beliefs…THEY ARE ELECTED TO REPRESENT THE PEOPLE….ALL OF THE PEOPLE.” If this were true, we would base our voting choices strictly upon the competence, personality, etc. of the candidates, not their “platforms,” political beliefs, etc., correct? Campaigns would not consist of issues, but rather qualifications. Candidates would be applying for a job, and we could review their resumes and reference letters. Their opinions on issues like gay marriage and abortion would be completely irrelevant. In fact, if politicians are just supposed to represent “the people,” why don’t “the people” just vote on every single decision that needs to be made? Why should we rely on a representative, who may in fact mistake the will of “the people” and decide the wrong way? Let’s eliminate the middle wo/man.>



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Daniel

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:49 pm


MNW: Sorry, I didn’t mean for that post to be anonymous, my name is Daniel. Let’s make this our litmus test: You tell me that you pity Martin Luther King Jr, that he should have kept his idea to himself, an that he was ‘delusional’ and I’ll believe that you really think this way. Otherwise I don’t.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:00 pm


Wolverine, You make a great point. To the extent that the words of Jesus were the words of God, so the rest of the NT is the word of Christ. For those who do believe (as Wallis does) that the Bible should instruct our politics, what do you do with a passage such as Romans 13? Perhaps this would be a good way to begin a real discussion on the morality of this war.>



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Anonymous

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:03 pm


Does Romans 13 apply to Saddam Hussein? Bill Clinton? Adolf Hitler?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:07 pm


Daniel, Huh? What’s MLK got to do with it? You obviously sense my pain…do you not? Are you or are you not pained by what you witness? I am pained by what I witness of MLK’s life and the era in which he lived…though it isn’t much different today…it’s just that the players have different faces, etc. Religion (specifically Christianity) is still the driving force behind the pain…the root of the evil.>



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Will

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:08 pm


My response to Romans 13 is Romans 12:14-21. “Repay no one evil for evil” and “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink” and “overcome evil with good”. Sounds like nonviolence to me. The New Testament theologian Walter Wink has written a lot about nonviolence as taught by Jesus. Waging a war of aggression against a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 or Osama bin Laden is not what I’d call “overcoming evil with good”.>



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Anonymous

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:16 pm


Wow! Great job expressing the view that I believe the majority of Americans feel! We do need a new middle ground politic… one that does more than pay lip service to Christianity… one that is based in Christian LOVE, instead of more money for ME! — PC>



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Tom

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:18 pm


The wisest man I ever knew, Dr. George Buttrick (he of Interpreter’s Bible fame) once said, “The older I get, the further to the right I go religiously, and the further left I go politically.” When someone in the audience asked how that could be, he replied, “It’s like a pendulum. It swings over here into Jesus Christ and over here into human need.”>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:24 pm


Anon, Are you suggesting, then, that the verse has no meaning, or that the Bible supports the acts of Hitler. Will, Your “evil for evil” reference presupposes that any act of aggression is clearly evil. Would that then, apply to our war effort against Germany, or to a police officer? Conspiracy theories aside, the Bush administration is making an effort to build rebuild Iraq, repair infrastructure etc… Further, it is offering to pardon insurgents who will take them up on the offer. Romans 13 clearly states that governments may use the sword. If you find this war to be a misapplication of the sword, and to be advancing a cause of injustice, you may make the case. What I think, however, is that we have policy disagreements that can’t necessarily be resolved by debating scripture.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:25 pm


DP4, You don’t believe our representatives are supposed to be representing the people…ALL of the people? Do you not see that as being problematic in a representational system of government?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:28 pm


Romans 13 clearly states that governments may use the sword. Jesus Christ clearly states that we should turn the other cheek. Who do you follow? Jesus or Paul?>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:32 pm


“Anon, Are you suggesting, then, that the verse has no meaning, or that the Bible supports the acts of Hitler.” That Anon was actually me. I’m saying that if you say “Bush is in power because Romans 13 says that God puts governments in power,” then you must also say that God put Saddam, Clinton, Hitler, etc. in power, musn’t you? Seems to me that things have changed since Romans 13. In biblical times, God supposedly annointed kings. Today, however, rulers take “the throne” via many different methods, either by voting, military coups, inheritance, etc. I personally think it’s reasonable to believe that God is not necessarily behind all of those methods, and therefore that we can not conclude that every leader is in place because God put him/her there. I also think that if a Christian believes that his/her government is patently disobeying God’s word, that Christian’s primary allegiance is to God, not to government.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:37 pm


“You don’t believe our representatives are supposed to be representing the people…ALL of the people?” Sure. The problem, of course, is that ALL of the people don’t necessarily want the same things. It’s difficult to make everyone happy at the same time. Even issues that everyone SHOULD care about (e.g. the environment) create significant controversy.>



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Daniel

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:10 pm


MNW: The basis for MLK and the civil rights movement was religion, specifically Christianity. My point is certainly not that all religion is good. I too see a great deal of pain caused by religion. But the antidote for bad religion is good religion. Martin Luther King is the symbol of this idea. I can’t prove that God didn’t tell Pat Robertson that Hurricane Katrina was punishment for homosexuality. So I understand why this leads you to think religion is only subjective and should be excluded from public life, which is objective. But, if we want to challenge the theology of hatred and violence then we can’t do so by arguing against the irrational – we’ll only end up saying everyone should keep to themselves and be selfish (as free market folks do). Instead, we have to show how our lofty ideals of love and peace have roots in the universe. We need good theology. Jesus, the Prophets, and Pope Benedict all assert love and peace over and against hatred and conflict. There are voices in Islam, Judaism, humanism, animism, etc all doing the same. This is good theology. And I think you’ll see that good religion is tolerant religion. You already have a worldview of peace and love. I want to amplify your voice and your way of relating to others. We need your support the way Martin Luther King needed it….>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:21 pm


D4P, God was not in the business of anointing Kings in Paul’s time, and I doubt that God had a particular interest in advancing the Roman empire, per se. My point was not that we must support any use of the sword, in accordance with Romans 13. Rather, I am using it to counter the argument that we may NOT support a government in wartime. If you find our present war to be unjust, that is fine, but you must make that case, rather than simply say “Jesus said turn the other cheek.” MNW, The book of Romans is inspired by God, who was not attempting to make a liar of Jesus, I’m sure.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:28 pm


Jesus, the Prophets, and Pope Benedict all assert love and peace over and against hatred and conflict. Jesus? Yes. “The Prophets”? Maybe…but highly suspect. Pope Benedict? Absolutely not. There are voices in Islam, Judaism, humanism, animism, etc all doing the same. This is good theology. That’s not good theology. That’s good humanity. And I think you’ll see that good religion is tolerant religion. Nope. Good people…are tolerant people…and vice versa. Religion plays no part in it. There’s no such thing as “good” religion. There is religion…it is neither good nor bad. You already have a worldview of peace and love. I want to amplify your voice and your way of relating to others. We need your support the way Martin Luther King needed it…. I don’t and never will support religion, as I see no need for it. I will, however, support good people, like MLK. MLK was a giant among men…not because of his religion…but because of who he was…who he chose to be. He, like so many who are confused by their religion, attributed his goodness and wisdom to a higher power. I assert that he is responsible for his goodness and his wisdom…he IS the higher power of which he speaks. It is within each of us…this higher power…it’s up to us to reflect it. Thanks be to MLK for being who he was…for tapping into that higher power within himself. My only regret is that he didn’t lay claim to it and own it as he rightly should. Y’see…religion so easily convinces people to attribute the goodness they do in the world to their religion…but likewise, it allows them to attribute their wickedness to it as well. In either case, accountability and ownership are removed…leaving a gaping hole and questions about what WE are suppsoed to do. I assert that the first step needed to reconcile this problem in religion is to re-assert that one’s actions are solely owned by the one acting…and no amount of wishy-washy religionist bullshit circumvents the reality that the goodness or wickedness done in the world is solely owned by those who commit it.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:29 pm


But where does Romans 13 talk about war?>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:36 pm


It talks about using the sword for justice. If you want to argue that this only applies within our borders, you can make that case, but there is precious little evidence to support that view.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:43 pm


Is truth not a sword to be used to fight for justice?>



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Anonymous

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:48 pm


My “New Living Translation” doesn’t mention the sword. I see that the NIV translation does. Interesting. Anyway, I’m not convinced that “bearing the sword” means that governments are given God’s blessing to kill. If so, are they also given the freedom to lie, cheat, steal, rape, commit adultery, etc.? Or are they only allowed to break certain commandments, but not others? Later in Romans 13 Paul says that all commandments can be summed up in the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our “calling” is not to fight “extremism,” or to kill “evildoers,” or to spread “democracy.” Our calling is to love. If loving puts our own lives at risk, then so be it.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:51 pm


MNW has a good point. Somewhere in the Bible (can’t remember where), it talks about stuff like “the sword of truth” and “breastplate of righteousness” etc. As I understand it, the “weapons” to be used by Christians are not actual weapons like swords, guns, bombs, etc., but rather “spiritual” weapons like truth, righteousness, faith, prayer, love, etc.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:53 pm


Right on, D4P!>



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Will

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:02 pm


There are great resources for Bible Study at http://www.sojo.net. Here’s a quote from one article on Romans 13: “Elliott argues that Paul’s admonition to be subordinate to the authorities (Romans 13:1-7) does not express an unqualified legitimation of Roman power. Rather, it emphasizes the commitment of Christians to be ready to pursue peace unilaterally with all people” From: Give Paul a Chance The surprise of Pauline praxis. by David Rhoads Sojourners Maybe Bush and the President of Iran should sit together for a Bible Study. Both like to talk about politics and religion. We are called to “seek peace, and pursue it” and must strive to follow Jesus’ instructions to love our enemies. William Stringfellow and many other Christians have challenged the idea that Romans 13 means that Christians are not to stand up to oppression, abuse, and injustice.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:02 pm


Paul says that all commandments can be summed up in the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Then Paul contradicts Christ! Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment. Mat 22:39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Is the love one has of self not a limiting factor in the love one can give another?>



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Elizabeth

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:10 pm


You’re my hero, Jim.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:11 pm


MNW: To clarify, Paul mentioned commandments like “Do not commit adultery, murder, steal, covet”, and then said that these commandments can be summed up by “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t think that contradicts the commandment to love God. Yes, the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself presumes that you have a high degree of love for yourself, just as the “golden rule” presumes that you want others to treat you well. I don’t think, however, that Jesus intended for these commandments to allow us to justify NOT loving our neighbors if we do not love ourselves. Such may be implied semantically, but I don’t think such an interpretation is reasonable. I also don’t think it’s reasonable to conclude that Jesus is saying that we only have to have as much love for our neighbor as we have for ourselves. I think it’s permissible to have MORE love for our neighbors than we have for ourselves.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:22 pm


I don’t think, however, that Jesus intended for these commandments to allow us to justify NOT loving our neighbors if we do not love ourselves. I agree. But I think one is limited by how much one can love another by how much one loves one’s self. The love I have to give is not love I have received, it is love I have found within myself. I cannot give more than what I have found within. I cannot give more than what I have to give. The secret, to me, is knowing that the love one finds within…is infinite. I think it’s permissible to have MORE love for our neighbors than we have for ourselves. I disagree. See above.>



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EBartScribe

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:25 pm


This is my first experience in commenting on BliefNet, so I do not know the entire background of those of you who are commenting. I was drawn to it by the current dialogue surrounding the topic of ‘God’s Politics’. Comments by Jack and Jackie are most seminal, particularly because Jack recounts statements from past thinkers which reveal that we have confronted our current dilemma time and again. I want to remind us of Rob Meyers’ book “The Christian Right IS Wrong” and see how many of us have THAT as our background, and remind us that much of what is being tossed around as ‘God’s Politics’ has ‘already been chewed’ BIG TIME by Mr. Meyers’ in this book AND in his “message heard round the world” when it was transmitted by Email. I say this to perhaps indicate how many of us are ‘over the hump’ as it were of the issues that are now being wrangled by the ‘God’s Politcs’ dialogue; and Jack I believe you are one, as well, whether or not you have read Meyers’ book, you are ‘over the hump’. Can I ask for a consensus of those who HAVE read Meyers’ book to be sure to be following what he urges at the end of the book and GET GALVANIZED to do something about the ‘divide ‘n conquor’ game of liberal vs conservative, ‘cuz THAT’S the real straw man of the hour, and not the accusation that the conservatives are over-balancing things. In fact, the entire notion of trying to ‘gain air time’ or the ‘attention-span of the voter’ is terribly passe in the internet world. I heard a comment on liberal talk radio yesterday that flagged the possibility that SOON, one of these elections, we would see candidates elected who had ALL surfaced to the recognition of the voters THROUGH THE BLOGOSPHERE !!! Go put THAT in yer pipe and smoke it. . .! I mean, THIS is what we should be concerning ourselves with, and NOT focusing on the puny antichrists, the pundits, who are trying to wrangle us into one position or another. I watch WAY more Documentary Channel and IFC nowadays than I do CNN or Faux News, etc. Documentaries are where it’s at. . . .!!! For my part in Rob Meyers’ call to action, I am crafting this week a long-poem in commemoration of the Haystack Bicentennial Conference being held in Williamstown Mass, my former hometown. I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to raise funds to return to my home town and film a Documentary covering the conference workshops, AND the entire process of what it means to craft a long commemorative poem using “the language of peace—swords to ploughshares, spears to pruninghooks”. Alas, my campaign among corporate offices (Ron Reagan at MSNBC, Marc Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and HD.Net, Bill Allen, and my local University, Western Washington University) have turned up not a penny. The rector of my wife’s school, St. Paul’s Episcopal School astutely observed that “those large corporations you have been querying have no significant or sincere interest in seeing religion promoted …..I expect your commemorative long poem will have more success than your promotional efforts….” This was a nice boost, was it not ? And it also IS as it should be: Art should be the instrumental thing and not the promotion of it. . . Soooooo, I have issued a wider query among Email and bloggers that if there is anyone with EXTRA airmiles he or she is not likely to use to please order a return air ticket [Bellingham WA to either Salt Lake City or Seattle; thence to Cincinnati; thence to Albany NY with a car package ON September 21st and return on either September 25th or 26th....] and Email me the E-ticket confirmation number(s) to tb.manntis@juno.com My ssn # is 545-66-5816 should you need it for tax write-offs, or procuring the ticket, etc. Why me ? Why should IIIIII be the one canvassing internet and Emailing like crazy just to get back to a missions conference that will produce limited results (By the way if you want to see what the Haystack Bicentennial is all about, please go to URL http://www.haystack.williams.edu )? Just this morning my mother Emailed me an attachment issued by our former church in Williamstown, The First Methodist Church, detailing some of the exciting happenings and mini-events within the larger commemoration, and reading it was like EXPERIENCING A PARALLEL UNIVERSE that has a life of its own and is REPLICATING entirely the motions that I am going through on my own. I put this in all caps because I think this is going to SUGGEST the way in which we, as a nation, get ahold of the ‘diivide and conquor’ liberal/conservative dichotomy, so that we can replace the paradigm of the War on Terror, with the new/old paradigm of Peace on Earth. So even though I am only one of thousands so galvanized to be attending the Haystack Bicentennial this year, and paying lip service to “200 years of American Foreign Missions” and wondering what “the next 200 years will bring”, the key to anything is TO MAKE SOMETHING OF IT, to MAKE IT A BIG DEAL, like, do a Documentary of it, from a secular point of view. For although I am a Christian, as a poet Brett Barton, I am observing from a totally secular standpoint this God-phenomena, this “tendency” in human behavior to “do mission”, etc., and that humanity DESERVES a very objective, secular account, like a documentary, of the entire arena of “faith inspiring outreach”, AND as a poet I am also interested in “seeing language work”, crafting a long poem with the language of peace. To see if we can replace all of the devious acts and the rivalry of ancient texts, and rival end-times prophecies (Christian verus Muslim, Bible versus Koran) to REPLACE all of that with Peace on Earth that will be powerful enough to transform weapons into implements for subduing the earth, enough to have the lion lay down with the lamb, Yes yes yes, I know all that about “Only Jeus can do thus and such” and “Only Mohammed will yield the preferred place to Jesus, but Jesus will pray to Mecca from BEHIND>



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Kay Shively

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:26 pm


Perhaps I should pass over the irony of asking Ralph Reed to talk about values, but it’s hard. However, be that as it may, we know why the right wing focuses on abortion and homosexuality: they’re the cash cows that bring in the money. And since those are such important issues we shouldn’t have any trouble remembering just what it was that Jesus said about them . . . now what was it?>



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KParman

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:26 pm


Thanks for he link to John Kerry’s speech, which I otherwise would have missed. It was a fascinating look at the faith that informs his view of the world. For a man, who kept that side of himself private, it is an amazing speech. Senator Kerry has often spoke of morality and the responsibility to those less fortunate. The speech was, at once, familiar and different from Senator Kerry’s speeches that I have read in the past. This speech has segments that sound like the comments he has always made in secular speeches, but they are expanded to include the spiritual framework that they are driven by. I was happy to see this as it confirms to me that Senator Kerry is the extraordinary person I thought he was.>



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EBartScribe

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:36 pm


iSOMEHOW HIT THE WRONG KEY AND SO MY MESSAGE GOT POSTED IN AN INCOMPLETE STATUS, SO I AM SCRIBING THIS IN ALL CAPS TO INDICATE THAT I HAVE THIS TO TACK ON: i WAS RELATING THE MUSIM END-TIMES VERSION OF JESUS AND MOHAMMED JOINING FORCES AND DEFEATING THE “ENEMY” (WHOEVER THAT MAY BE) AND THEN COMING TO THE PRAYER CARPET WHERE MOHAMMED GESTURES TO JESUS TO HAVE THE PRIMARY PLACE TO PRAY, BUT JESUS BOWS DOWN IN THE SECONDARY POSITION, BEHIND MOHAMMED. THE BATTLE BETWEEN SUCH ACCOUNTS IS JUST AS FUTILE AS THE BATTLE BETWEEN PAULIST MORALITY AND THE MORALITY FOUND IN, SAY, A POLYGAMIST ENCAMPMENT. WHEN WE HAVE A GENERAL MORALITY WITHOUT REFERENCE TO CHAPTER AND VERSE I THINK HUMANITY CAN BE A GREAT DEAL MORE SUCCESSFUL AND PURSUE HAPPINESS TO A FAR GREATER EXTENT THAN IF WE FOLLOW A MORALITY BY THE BOOK. SO TO SCRIBE A LONG POEM IN COMMEMORATION OF THE HAYSTACK BICENTENNIAL IS TO CUT THROUGH THESE INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL BATTLES AND SIMPLY GENERATE A DOCUMENT THAT WILL SHIFT PARADIGMS. CONFUCIOUS ON HIS DEATH BED SAID “cONTROL OF LANGUAGE IS THE KEY TO POWER; THE KEY TO POWER IS GAINING CONTROL OF THE LANGUAGE” i AM NO DOUBT PARAPHRASING, OF COURSE, BUT YOU GET THE PICTURE……brett barton>



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Lutheran intern

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:46 pm


Martin Luther said the Bible is the cradle in which we find the Christ child. The Bible is inerrant only in what it reveals about Jesus. Paul is not Jesus but a man of faith who was confused on many things and often taken out of context. If the Love of God in Christ Jesus is not revealed in a text it is secondary to the word text that does. NOWHERE for example does Jesus speak against love. So where texts speak about division, conquering, judging etc… and cause harm to one whom God loves (again, that is all of creation) I always default to grace and trust that if I screw up at least I haven’t caused pain to someone else.>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:47 pm


TO ANY MODERATOR READING THIS THREAD… You may want to consider deleting EBartScribe’s post above (09.20.06 – 2:30 pm). EBartScribe, Your quest sounds like an honorable and decent one…however, I would suggest that you not post your Social Security Number on the internet as you have. In this day and age I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow there’s someone using a credit card with your name on it. Just a thought.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:48 pm


D4P, You’re assumption that the sword refers simply to truth misreads the passage entirely. The passage goes on to say “He (government) is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment to the wrongdoer”. Anonymous, This should clarify my point as well. I’m not sure why you bring up rape and cheating. Are you saying that, if this verse allows one sin, that it must allow all sins? If so, then I would say that I don’t concede your point that all killing is sin. The bible doesn’t support that view.>



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CDU

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:05 pm


“The real problem with Democrats is not their views on specific issues, but their reluctance to speak of their position on issues in moral or religious language.” As a Democrat and an evangelical, I would love to hear likeminded folks express their political agenda as an extension of their faith. The problem is, the absence of faith speech is due to the absence of faith-based convictions. People with such convictions have a passion that transcends talking points. I do believe that many of today’s politicians have genuine compassion for others, but the fact that we are hard-pressed to name any one of them who are “right on” with a Biblical perspective of today’s big issues tells me that true believers are few and far between. Perhaps, in this instance, “the way” is more narrow than we’d like. Learning how to talk “church” isn’t going to convince me that these people are sincere believers. I’d rather them try to reach out to our faith communities by listening to us rather than by translating secularist philosophy into Bible-based rhetoric. Neither party should engage in language simply because it happens to be more popular since the 2004 election. I think, as Amy Sullivan points out in her August 29th article in Slate magazine, that the best thing Dems. can do right now is to go into faith communities and find allies in people with common policy positions. Personally, I’m weary of all the religious “talk” and I’d like to see some action- from both parties. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” I’d rather see the power of God moving through some humble civil servants than hear a cacophony of talking heads espouse religious virtues in defense of indefensible policy. As a theological conservative, I’m tired of seeing believers cherry pick from the Bible and choosing the terms on which they will deal with God. Likewise, as a political liberal, I’m even sicker of having Christian politicians have the same cafeteria-style approach to Scripture, deciding it’s more important to limit the scope of government than to give aid to our neighbors, the poor, or the alien.>



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Jack

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:09 pm


It’s so simple when one steps back and looks at the “meta-messages” of the Bible: 1- God gave Adam and Eve 99% freedom and prohibited just 1%, yet religions give only 1% freedom and prohibit 99%. Shouldn’t the “Lord’s people” stop “lording it over” others and “placing burdens on them they can’t even bear”? 2- God models the ultimate, cosmic “law” of love by His daily respect for our free will, even to the point of letting us reject Him. Shouldn’t His “followers” follow His example? 3- Satan infiltrated the first family and the 12 disciples. Shouldn’t we warily acknowledge that the “Father of Lies” could certainly infiltrate other pivotal groups- like the Council of Nicea organizing the Bible or the Government Commission “investigating” 9/11?>



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Daniel

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:09 pm


I’m having trouble posting, sorry if this shows up multiple times. MNW: What if religion were all “just” mythology? What if it is my unconscious or The Matrix inspiring me and not God? Does it really make a difference? The idea that humans are the complete source of their own inspiration is also a belief that must be taken on faith. Just because I decide one way and you another is no reason to get bogged down in a debate about which of us is right or wrong, especially for someone who wants to live and let live. There is just no rational basis for adjudicating among plausible but irrational beliefs. In that light, I’d like to echo Jim Wallis’ commentary on Matthew 25 and suggest that what we do bodily is far more important than what we believe intellectually. Comparing theism and humanism is not a political prerequisite, given that we live in a democracy and allow people to be different. Here’s what is important: We agree on what the world ought to look like. We can have these interesting conversations while we’re side-by-side helping the poor, brokering peace, and ministering to the sick!>



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Daniel

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:18 pm


Jack, the Bible can justify two broad interpretations. George Lakoff discovered that in religion and politics people are either Strict Fathers or Nurturant Parents. We are engaging that debate by asserting a nurturing faith, a good theology, from within Christianity. If anything, this should be a source of hope to those scarred by bad, strict father theology.>



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Philippe Bogdan

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:20 pm


I understand that this blog is adressing primery the situation in North America. But with different emphasis maybe (probably), we facing the same issues in France where I live. I have thought about that for years. I am in my early 50th, I served with YWAM for some 20 years, sat for hours of wonderful teaching on how to “influence” nations, including Europe and the USA. Even if I am not serving fulltime with YWAM anymore, my life is still based on the right principles I’ve been taught there. But, there is no question about the fact that, after 30 years of teaching about “discipling the nations” the program itself is a failure. Please understand that I am not being critical or negative about the issue, I support fully any initiative that promote God’s value in our society. Looking back, I came to the conclusion that the problem is not so much about some ‘agenda’ than about our dayly life. Nothing’s going to change drasticaly in our societies if we keep arguing about the clear and simple road map that Jesus gave us for all generations including ours. As long as we argue with the Sermon of the mountain as it adresses down to earth issues as poverty and wealth, loving and forgiving our enemies, the issue of killing a human being, in time of war or in time of peace, the command to forgive and bless those who killed our friends, relative, children, brother and sister… Who are we to argue with Jesus when he ask us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray forthose who persecute us, so that we may be the children of our father in heaven… Again, all that is as much for the church in France then in the US, or anywhere else on our planet, actually this is primaly a jugement on my life. How can we expect more justice in our country if we, as Christians, don’t want to do what’s right ? How can we make disciples from all nations, including ours, if we don’t want to start applying the basic rules of the kingdom : to love our neighbor (we could start with the person living next door :) as ourself, do to other what we’d like them to do for us… So simple, so simple… that it literraly changed the face of the western world 2000 years ago… unfortunatly, not for long, as the church started arguing about these same issues… Sorry for beeing so long… I just want to add something that I believe to be true in any situation and any time. Changes never come from the “top”, changes come from me in my relationship with others, realtionshio with possession and with accepting my responsablility toward “my” neighbor… We need Christian in politics, but not to promote some kind of agenda or program, but to show the world that IT IS POSSIBLE to live the Sermon on the mountain. Imagine a christian congressman or who ever in politics who decide to serve for free in a politics because he simply doesn’t need more monney to live his life…>



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Wolverine

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:31 pm


at 12:33 MNW wrote: Romans 13 clearly states that governments may use the sword. Jesus Christ clearly states that we should turn the other cheek. Who do you follow? Jesus or Paul? Obviously, MNW, the answer is both. Hence, I don’t carry a sword around looking for trouble, or even looking to right wrongs and enforce order. I do, however, expect, that the local police and military, who are responsible for such things, will do so. And I accept that I will have to pay taxes. Jesus laid out a general principle. Paul makes note of an exception. Is that really so difficult to understand? at 1:53 Anonymous wrote Anyway, I’m not convinced that “bearing the sword” means that governments are given God’s blessing to kill. If so, are they also given the freedom to lie, cheat, steal, rape, commit adultery, etc.? Or are they only allowed to break certain commandments, but not others? Uh, what do think that sword is there for? Chopping vegetables?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:48 pm


Jesus laid out a general principle. Paul makes note of an exception. Is that really so difficult to understand? I understand that perfectly. What I don’t understand is how you can claim to follow Christ and Paul simultaneously when Paul contradicts (takes exception) to a PRINCIPLE of Christ’s. Please do explain how you’re able to claim that you follow Christ when you “take exception” with his principles? You either follow Christ…AND the principles he has espoused…or you don’t. Is that really so difficult to understand? If you choose to follow Paul’s exceptional “way”, then you are no longer following Christ’s “way”. Taking a detour from the path Christ has laid out for you is to no longer follow Christ’s path. No? Love thy neighbor as thyself…except when you don’t want to? I don’t get it. *shakes head*>



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Bill Samuel

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:01 pm


A couple of things. On the real problem with Democrats being not speaking in terms of values. Now they’re doing it, but most of them are not then changing their policies to conform. Hilary Clinton has done it, but she’s still pro-war and pro-abortion. We get a lot of rhetoric from liberals saying they really are against abortion but that they’re pro-choice. I respect anarchists who don’t support laws restricting abortion and say they’re pro-life. That does fit. But when those who are for a robust government say it, it doesn’t ring true. Quite right that it isn’t *the* answer. But it’s part of the answer. We also can’t end rape or murder of the born solely with laws, but I’ve never heard a liberal who is “pro-choice” on abortion make the same kind of argument on these. They all believe these should be illegal. Not sure where Jim Wallis stands on this. Haven’t read God’s Politics. Heard it has a good chapter on consistent life ethic, but I don’t know to what degree he addresses this there. Ralph Reed in his commentary noted that the defining issues of the 70’s were civil rights and Vietnam. He failed to note that the predecessors to today’s religious right, including some who are still around and are part of today’s movement, were mostly wrong on both issues. Perhaps today’s religious right is also wrong on key issues of today, like global warming?>



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MNW

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:10 pm


Hilary Clinton has done it, but she’s still pro-war and pro-abortion. Hillary Clinton IS NOT “pro-abortion”…she’s pro-choice. I know of NO ONE…NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON…that is “pro-abortion”. That is simply another rhetorical device used by those on the “right” to muddle the issue…and confuse. If you want to start a dialogue with others, you might want to start by dropping all of the rightist bullshit. Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, do not advocate abortion. They advocate for the woman to have the right to make the decision of whether or not to have that medical procedure performed herself…which is her right. It is a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor. Period. It is not a decision to be made by a bunch of men in a legislative body who think they know what’s best for everyone else.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:24 pm


I know of plenty who are pro-abortion. Many bemoan the lack of accesibility to abortion, and there are bumper stickers and t-shirts that read “I had an abortion”. Not that this describes everyone who is pro-choice… But that wasn’t Bill’s point. His point was that someone who sees government a the solution to poverty and health-care woes suddenly doesn’t see a role for government in banning abortion. She has learned, as Wallis would call it “the language of faith” but she has done nothing to alter her agenda accordingly. Incidentally, is this the sort of dialogue Wallis’ allegedly groundbreaking work is fostering? Because most of the rhetoric here is long on anger, and short on substance, or even coherence. is this what life at Sojourners is like? A bunch of people screaming talking points at each other at the top of their lungs?>



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Lutheran Pastor

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:25 pm


I believe that “the sword” means the power that governments have to enforce the law. That would include both a literal and a metaphorical “sword.” That’s not limited to war, either. Capital punishment would be a “sword.” But if a society decided not to have capital punishment, but use life imprisonment without parole, that would also be considered a sword. One difference between our time and Paul’s time is that we have more voice to say what we, as people of faith, as people of values, regard as a right and ethical use of power by the government. And we have a responsibility to use our voice in this way: whether we are Christians or Buddhists or atheists, we have the right and the responsibility to give voice when governmental power is used unethically.>



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Lonnie Swonger

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:27 pm


I wish for someone in Washington to say this simple phrase: “I knew that we should not go to Iraq. I knew that the information was faulty at best. I knew we would not succeed. However, I also knew that with the “religious frenzy” of Patriotism after 9/11, I could not stand up against the Bush Administration without looking unpatriotic. I was used by those in power to do a bad thing, and at the time I did not stand up for what I knew in my heart was right. And I humbly apologize, with the promise that I will never sway from what I feel is right again. I will probably never see it, but I can hope.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:27 pm


Let’s end the “pro-choice = pro-abortion” fallacy once and for all. Thinking an act should be legal is not the same as promoting that act. I think adultery should be legal, but that does not make me pro-adultery. I think lying should be legal, but that does not make me pro-lying. I think arrogance should be legal, but that does not make me pro-arrogance. Some things that are wrong are illegal. Some things that are wrong are legal. Some things that are not wrong are illegal. Some things that are not wrong are legal. People need to learn to view “right/wrong” as a separate (though not compleley unrelated) sphere from “legal/illegal.”>



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watsy

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:28 pm


Jim Wallis, You are a breath of fresh air. I wish that I had time to read all of the comments, but I’m short on it, and you’re up to 140. I like how you highlighted a couple of comments in today’s entry. I hope that you will continue to do that if traffic remains this high. I agree with everything that you said. Everything. I believe that the religious right has been corrupted by politics. I’m not convinced that it’s not inevitable that when you combine religion with something so easily corrupted as politics that it’s not bound to happen. That’s my primary objection to your organization. You sound like a democrat. It’s important that as the democrats gain power(which they eventually will)that you keep your integrity and don’t become a pawn of politics.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:43 pm


D4P, Neither I nor Bill was making that equation. Reread the posts if you are not clear. Watsy, For the record, Jim Wallis gets paid to instruct Democrats on how to speak the language of faith. If you think the convergence of politics and faith invariably leads to a corrupt faith, then you are saying Wallis’ faith is corrupt. Lonnie, I think the reason you won’t hear that is because many Democrats supported the war effort, and only pretend now to oppose it (sort of) because it has become politically unpopular. No they are forced to take a floundering position on the issue.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:45 pm


I’d like to echo watsy’s concerns. Jim’s book “God’s Politics” is supposed to detial how the Right gets it wrong, and the Left doesn’t get it. This gives the impression that there will be equal scrutiny of both sides of the political spectrum. However, it has been my observation that the majority of critique coming from Sojourners is aimed at the Right. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the critique, I think Sojourners would do well to remain “objective” enough to be able to subject both sides to critique, and to avoid identifying with one party or another. Just as Christians should be interested in “God’s politics,” so (in my opinion) should they identify with “God’s party,” which is not reflected in our current political environment.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:46 pm


Only 3 days into this blog, and it has completely unraveled! BeliefNet was clearly a poor choice of venue to attempt to have thoughtful discussion among committed Christians.>



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Wolverine

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:49 pm


(referring back to the 3:53 post) MNW, Okay, here’s how I see it: Life is complicated and, especially in Jesus case, short. He simply did not have time to explain everything for us in detail during the three years of his ministry. So Jesus, in his teaching, focused on the most fundamental issues that his closest disciples would need to understand, and laid down very general principles. Among them, that the church should not make use of violence. Later on, St. Paul addressed the question of a Christian’s relationship with the state, and noted that governments (being something quite different from churches) will sometimes need to make use of violence to fulfill their role of maintaining order and enforcing law. Now, that brings up the entire question of how Christians should behave if they should attain a position of power in government. I’ll admit that this is a complicated area, but taking the scripture as a whole I don’t see how strict pacifism can be applied to government, either practically or theologically. While the church should follow the pacific example set by Christ, governments are expected to behave very differently. And (brace yourself) when a Christian gets into a position of political responsibility, he or she may be obligated to do some otherwise very unchristian things. It’s a terrible paradox, and I don’t really like the hacking and slashing all that much myself, but the alternative is to bar Christians from large chunks of political life, and in particular leaving the very important questions of law enforcement and war in the hands of non-Christians. Now none of this proves that Bush was justified in pursuing war against Iraq, but it is our considered opinion that Just War Theory is the only approach under which the President’s actions can be judged fairly.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:51 pm


The issue of Democrats who voted for the war but who are now changing their tune presents a good example of an area where a group like Sojourners should be critiquing the Left as well as the Right. That being said, however, if (as some have suggested) politicians are just supposed to represent what “the people” want and not to do what they personally want, maybe those politicians shouldn’t be held responsible for supporting the war, assuming that is what their constituents wanted.>



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dlw

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:53 pm


Wallis is right about the two issues looming too large and being the basis for political manipulation and actions that have harmed the public witness of Evangelical Christianity. My ponderings are more over strategy. A lot of the conflict over these two issues has to do with how they are framed. We Christians need to find alternatives to the existing frames found in both sides to the issues. It’s not just a matter of preventing abortions, there also is a need to clarify whether and when we shd first treat the human unborn as legally-protected persons. We’re not going to make that issue go away unless we face it head on and that is something that Wallis has not done so far. It is what we need a pragmatic prolife manifesto for… dlw>



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watsy

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:58 pm


Kevin, I didn’t say his faith is corrupt. I said that if he’s going to mix religion and politics than he needs to be careful because it could easily become corrupt if he doesn’t objectively weigh what’s put before him. We all have an incredible ability to rationalize and form God to our own image(God likes/hates what we like/hate). It gets tough when money, power, and prestige become intertwined.>



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D4P

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:07 pm


“While the church should follow the pacific example set by Christ, governments are expected to behave very differently. And (brace yourself) when a Christian gets into a position of political responsibility, he or she may be obligated to do some otherwise very unchristian things.” Why is that? Why should Christian politicians no longer act like Christians? I think Christian politicians should resign rather than betray their faith. Some people apparently believe that a person only has to be like Christ up until the point where their personal safety is threatened. Once we are in danger, we can abandon Christ’s teachings and do whatever we think necessary to defend ourselves. But that mindset seems to stand in direct contradiction to the example and teachings of Christ, as well as others in the Bible (e.g. Paul, Daniel, Shadrach et al., etc.) who were willing to die rather than betray their faith or break God’s commandments. Jesus commands us to take up our cross and follow Him, on a path that is frought with danger and that may very well end in (untimely) death. He does not command us to only follow Him when it is safe and convenient.>



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Lutheran Pastor

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:09 pm


By the way, “the sword” and “the cross” are two completely different kinds of power. One mistake we make is to confuse the two, and try to bring in God’s kingdom by the power of the sword. But another mistake we make is in not believing that we have responsibility to make sure “the sword” — the power that government wields — is done in a morally ethical and responsible way. If I am reading Wallis correctly (and of course I give him the benefit of the doubt) he is doing the second thing, and not the first.>



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George Polley

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:15 pm


I don’t see much from Ralph Reed and others about the importance of full humanity and dignity for all people, but do seem important to Jesus’ ministry. Never popular, the subject all-too-frequently lead to name-calling, scare tactics and blame by those who wish they would go away. I am reminded of a remark once made by Don Helder Camara of Brazil, a great advocate of social and economic justice: “When I give food to the poor,” he said, “they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” I am old enough to remember when a lot of people in this country got called that, including me for reading Plato’s “Republic” on the bus. (The person thought it was a Communist text!)>



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gurufrisbee

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:52 pm


Wow! That’s an intense dialogue to jump into when it’s already 160 comments deep. We have problems in America and one cannot help but wonder if the problems aren’t precisely coming from the reality that we have two political parties – and neither one is truly interested in being the party of God and Jesus. Neither one truly wants to protect all human life from things like legalized murder (a.k.a. war), abortion, death penalty, etc.. Neither one truly is willing to do anything for the protection of God’s creation (our environment) when the out of pocket loss is too big. And the list goes on and on. What an amazing change this (or any other) nation will be in for if we can finally say party agendas are meaningless and we want our leaders to follow the Bible and the Lord first and foremost.>



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phyllis

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:52 pm


the problem with our country is that we forgot all about god and family when iwas young i had to go to church .sundays everything was closedso we could go to churchand you didn’t need alot of money. today everything is open on sundays and hollidays and all people want is money and the goverment dosent care anymore about the poor americans the real americans born and raised here in this country. god is crying about this.>



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steve alcott

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:55 pm


Why does anyone take seriously a word Ralph Raeed says? His connection to the Jack Abramoff scandal paints him as a liar and a hypocrite, if not a criminal.>



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Diane Fitzpatrick

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:56 pm


Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Consitution call for a separation of church and state? Where do you people get off?>



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Andrew

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:01 am


I long for a faith based group to be above right or left. I do not think that Jim Wallis offers this. He views 1950s style liberal thought as the way to accomplish principles that Jesus taught. Conservatives view small government and personal opportunity mixed with personal responsibility as the best way to accomplish what Jesus taught. The “religious right” also should focus more on compassion issues, although I agree with Mr. Reed that the many compassionate issues that conservatives fight for are not publicized. Now, when Mr. Wallis talks about world hunger and world repression of religious rights, I listen intently. However, when Mr. Wallis imbibes us that 1950s tried and failed stale liberal thought is how we as christians should approach modern problems, I am unimpressed. Katrina is a good example of this. I have heard Mr. Wallis wail about what happened regarding Katrina. While Katrina did expose problems to be addressed, much of the issue was an incredibly inefficiently run local and state government. Everyone now knows that the New York government is light years ahead of Louisianna government in the handling of a crisis and in integrity. From reading Mr. Wallis, you would think that evil conservative conspirators headed by Pres. Bush deliberately used Katrina to hurt the Louisianna residents or something of that ilk. What I saw was individual residents making iresponsible and immoral decisions during Katrina, and an inept local and state government compounded by a federal government not prepared for a disaster of this magnitude. The impression I get from Mr. Wallis and old style liberals is that this problem should be handled by an overly bloated and controlling federal government. That is why the wailing by Mr. Wallis regarding Katrina falls on deaf ears to me.>



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Rod Livdahl

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:02 am


Jim Wallis… your superior reply shows the incredible value of your centrist and unifying thought! It continually amazes me that the Religious Right can try and lay claim to it’s hold on Moral Values while supporting a President whose every action screams NO MORAL FIBER! From his lies and deceptions leading America into a totally useless and damaging war, to his unprincipaled support of torture, illegal detentions and denial of the right to know what evidence is presented against you in court. His every move seems designed to sabotage the Constitution and continually embarrass our once proudly moral nation! Please contine to enlighten the world with your intelligent and Christian thoughts and ideas for making this country less devisive and able to work for progress together!>



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Jack

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:07 am


Back during my naive, fervent, Evangelical phase, there was all this uproar about a book some “liberal theologian” at Harvard had written. Years later, having reclaimed the right to use my brain for something other than memorizing other peoples’ pat answers, I read this viciously-maligned book. It certainly lived up to its sub-title! How refreshing. It also made me realize the probability that the multitudes of NARROW-minded religious people will likely be the very ones on that BROAD road leading away from Life, according to Jesus. For those wanting to BROADEN their minds and travel that NARROW road leading to Life, I’d highly recommend “The Good Book – Reading the Bible with MIND and HEART” by Peter Gomes. He does an excellent job outlining through history, how the “Spirit of Truth” Jesus promised to send has lead those with open minds (i.e. faith) to discover the manifold mysteries of God’s love – a “liberal” love which has progressively enlighted society to embrace those previously scorned: Gentiles, Women, Blacks, the Divorced, the Disabled, Gays. Resisting the Holy Spirit is considered the only “unforgiveable sin” so we have no choice but to extend God’s love even to narrow-minded Republicans! [FYI: I'm still a registered Republican]>



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Wolverine

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:17 am


at 5:12 PM D4P wrote: Why should Christian politicians no longer act like Christians? I think Christian politicians should resign rather than betray their faith. This was directed at Christian political leaders declaring war. This is actually a very old and honorable position. But understand that the implication of this would be the Christians would be frozen out of all decisions regarding war: when wars will be declared, how wars will be fought, when hostilities will cease, and under what terms. I suspect that, if Christians are “out of the loop” on these questions, the long term result would be more frequent and longer-lasting wars, and more bloodshed. You may not agree, but you can see how someone might think that, can’t you? Some people apparently believe that a person only has to be like Christ up until the point where their personal safety is threatened. Once we are in danger, we can abandon Christ’s teachings and do whatever we think necessary to defend ourselves. Personal safety has very little to do with it. President Bush’s personal safety was never threatened, except perhaps on 9/11/01 itself, and his response at that time was to remain airborne on Air Force One and keep his location secret, a non-violent tactic that I can easily imagine Jesus himself using. As for the Iraq War, I think I can speak for the entire Christian Conservative movement when I say that our decision to support that war was based on our assessment of national security and the safety of not just ourselves but of 300,000,000 other Americans whom the US government is charged to protect. You are free to question our wisdom on that score — I have at times myself — but your speculation about our motives is completely misplaced.>



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MNW

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:21 am


Wolverine, In response to your post “09.20.06 – 4:54 pm”… It isn’t complicated. You, and other Christians, make it complicated. I disgree with you. I think whether a Christian is in a position of governmental power or not they are still (if they wish to follow Christ) obligated to Love. They are still to be a bearer of Peace. They are not given a pass to resort to violence and war just because they are a politician in a position of power. That, to me, is a complete a total cop out. Here’s something for you to ponder. I was a witness of September 11, 2001. I live in Connecticut, and at the time I worked in NYC. I remember. I will never forget. I will always remember stepping out on the rooftop to see those smoking towers in the distance. I will always remember the quiet stillness on the car-less street as I walked to the train station with my friends that afternoon, looking down 6th Avenue to see an empty skyline. I will always remember the feeling of suspicion and distrust I had for my fellow commuters in the days following…and today. But the most powerful memory that I will never forget…is the bounty of Love that flowed out of that day. The neighborly gestures that occurred amongst the “strangers” living side by side. The outpouring of sympathy…and Love…for those in the neighborhood who had loved ones lost on that tragic day. The lit candles in the windows of the houses as I drove around…and the somber look of the woman sitting on her doorsteps…looking…as if waiting for someone who would never return home. I remember…the enormous generosity and compassion…Love…the people of the world showed us. In the immediate days following that fateful day…the world was American. Now I ask you…to imagine… What would the world be like today had Mr. Bush followed the principles laid down by Christ. Imagine what the world would be like today had Mr. Bush “turned the other cheek”…and embraced the Love the world showed us. I don’t need to have you imagine the world had Mr. Bush followed the “exceptions” laid down by “Saint” Paul…all you need do is look around and witness the reality of that path today. War and death abound. Peace is, once again, a dream.>



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Jack

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:29 am


TO: Rod Livdahl (and all other such thinkers) Two other related Evangelical disconnects are: (1) their arrogant warnings to the “lost” that an anti-Christ figure will arise ["When tyranny comes to America, it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible" said one 1940's writer] (2) their arrogant warnings that many will bow down and worship this figure [only the religious tend to bow in worship, so odds are is won't be those "godless, liberals" and unpatriotic, "American insurgents" bowing a knee to someone].>



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Wolverine

posted September 21, 2006 at 2:58 am


MNW: Regarding your latest, I’ll let you have your scare quotes for “exceptions”, but Paul was a Saint, not a “Saint” and you cannot simply dismiss his writings merely because, on a very simple, shallow level, they appear to conflict with one of Christ’s sayings. Both are valid, and it is our role to use our reason to reconcile them, not to ignore whichever one does not fit our policy preferences. I’m not the one who is complicating things here — it’s the scriptures that are complicated, and we have to deal with the complexities as best we can. I never said that President Bush can use force “just because” he is “a politician in a position of power.” There is still the well-developed Christian teaching of “Just War” by which the President’s actions can be judged. As far as how the world would look if Bush had “embraced the love”, the answer is I don’t have a clue — and neither do you unless you can say what that would mean in terms of specific policies. (Maybe the President should have just started hugging world leaders?) Embracing the love” isn’t a policy, it’s just a slogan and a banal one at that. As far as I can tell, your entire thinking can be summed up as “War is bad and peace is good.” Tell me something I don’t know.>



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CD CHAMBERLAIN

posted September 21, 2006 at 3:37 am


What I find amazing is that for all the investment the Religious Right has made in politics in recent years–what do they have to show for it? I do not see prayer in public school, the end of abortion, or the disappearance of gay/lesbian relationships. I do not believe that the future will be any different. What HAS happened is that the politics of wealth has overpowered the nation. Although per capita income has grown, median household income has actually decreased since 1994. It seems to me that the real agenda of conservative politics is to increase the federal deficit in order to fund corporate welfare. This would have been impossible if the Religious Right had not aligned itself with political powers designed to plunder the public purse for private profit and possess the unmitigated gall to label the politics of larceny conservatism. One wonders when the conservatism of a century ago will re-appear. When will conservatives create another William Jennings Bryan who opposed the teaching of evolution not for a concern over biology but because he feared it would be used to justify social Darwinianism. Today, social Darwinianism prevails in the name of market forces. As Bryan lamented, we choose to crucify humankind on a “cross of gold.”>



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MNW

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:26 am


As far as how the world would look if Bush had “embraced the love”, the answer is I don’t have a clue — and neither do you unless you can say what that would mean in terms of specific policies. I asked you to imagine what the world might be like had Bush followed the principles of Christ…instead of the principles of Paul…but I see that’s too much to ask of you. As for me, I imagine the world would be a much better place than it is today.>



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Sue Braga

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:04 am


After reading all of this, I want to know why the culture of war is still accepted by the “Religious Right”. Torture is even an acceptable practice according to Tony Perkins and Louis Sheldon. How do Conservative Chrsitian reconcile this belief with anti-abortion/prolife position? There is nothing more uncivilized and immoral than war.>



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Wolverine

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:07 am


MNW, Thanks for your last post. That clears up everything.>



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kevin s.

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:31 am


MNW, So Bush is following the words of Paul. Bush is following scripture? That is your position?>



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Quinn Olinger

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:08 am


HuckFinn, I was no reference to anything from the IPCC in the link you provided. What is the point you are trying to make? Just because some evangelicals have been duped into accepting the Looming Global Warming Disaster Myth (LGWDM) does not substantiate that myth as reality. Everyone was concerned with the GLOBAL COOLING CRISIS that was just around the corner 20-40 years ago. Do some research and you’ll find plenty of info on that and see how flimsy and unreliable the world of “science” really is.>



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Quinn Olinger

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:14 am


wolverine, Whether its recognized by others or not, Christ revealed to Paul the mystery, the secret, which is the Body of Christ (Rom 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:1-9; Col 1:26-27) and it was through his apostleship and ministry that God gave the new “house rules” (Eph 3:2) that we are to follow. The big differences in these “house rules” are: 1. No difference between Jew and Gentile. 2. No requirement to abstain from certain unclean foods. 3. No difference between male and female. 4. Salvation through faith apart from any faith-works (like circumcision, water baptism, keeping the law, etc.) There are other differences, but those are the major ones. You can check out more info on it all at http://www.biblicalanswers.com Q>



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CKC

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:22 am


Kevin S. says, “But we must be pragmatic about how we approach this issue, and careful not to value the lives of animals above the lives of humans.” This is precisely the arguement I get from my conservative and fundamentalist friends against anything pro-environment. I just don’t get it. How is valuing clean air, clean drinking water, and chemical free food a bad thing? When God gave us dominion over the earth I don’t think he intended for us to exploit and destroy it. Environmentalism is not about valuing animals or plants more than people, it is about protecting our ecosystem from harm and destruction so that PEOPLE and God’s other creations can survive. It is about using what we have been given more wisely. Can you help me understand your point of view better, Kevin?>



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Kaleb (15)

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:36 am


ya Jesus is the way to eternal life>



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CKC

posted September 21, 2006 at 9:17 am


Drew Terry said’ “Comments from a couple of people posting on the blog who share this same assumption but who also offer no FACTS (other than their own feelings/observations) to support it!” D. Terry, I appreciate your posting and would like to respond since I was one of the two people Mr. Wallis chose to reference in his response to Mr. Reed. I was very careful in the wording of my posting not to attempt to speak for all fundamentalist Christians in America. They are a large and despite the assumptions about them, diverse bunch. I pointed out two denominations with which I am very familiar (over 30 years) and referenced a region of the country trying to make my first hand experience and knowledge representative of that subset. It may be helpful to clarify some terminology. Fundamentalist Christians and conservative evangelical Christians are (politically) not necessarily the same group of people. When I speak of my experience I am referencing extreme right wing conservative fundamentalist Christian protestant churches. There are many evangelical churches that are not nearly so conservative and have a wider world view. You asked for facts. I believe that in the scientific process direct observation of a phenomena qualifies as data. From these observations one is able to form a hypothesis and when said hypothesis is reproducible one is then allowed to call it a theory. When that theory is widely accepted within a community it is then accepted as fact. As a former old school fundamentalist, I can again assure you that by and large the “family values” issues that are of primary concern, to the extent that all voting decisions are based on these two litmus test issues alone, are abortion and gay marriage. This does not mean that fundamentalists do not care about the poor or do not volunteer to help the needy, or do not do other good works of loving kindness. It is laudable that your church, as did mine, sent members to help in the wake of Katrina. But that doesn’t mean that poverty or the environment or AIDS in Africa or Darfur is on the mind of the average fundamentalist when they walk into the voting booth. There is a difference between what individual Christians and churches espouse as important moral/family values and what is put forth as a national agenda. I agree that the media manipulates information and us. No doubt. Everything about a campaign is designed to manipulate the voter. Thus my point about the campaign mailings we received in 2004, and why I get a little bent out of shape about how I believe my conservative friends and family were manipulated by the Republican party in the last election. I really don’t care how the SAT scores of George Bush and Al Gore stack up. I do care about the work of Jim Wallis and Sojourners. I care about holding our legislators to the moral compass that many of them espouse to live by. I care about healing a divide within the body of Christ. I care about trying to live my faith as more than thou shalt nots, but as a call to serve the least of these. And, I care very much about finding that moral center that Jim talks about. I agree heartily with your last paragraph. How can we reach the goal together?>



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Ken Ross

posted September 21, 2006 at 3:04 pm


While reading these posts, I’ve found them interesting and challenging. I know individually none of us have all the answers, but collectively, we can strive to resolve these issues that face us. sapientia justicia temperantia Blessings>



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Anonymous

posted September 21, 2006 at 3:38 pm


No difference between male and female. Quinn, Do you support same-sex marriage and gay rights?>



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Clark Gabriel Field

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:10 pm


Jim, you say it so well! But where are pastors? Where are preachers preaching on the greatest evils of our time? Who speaks out on corporate sin? On government greed? How many christian leaders walk the walk? How many christian leaders confront the government and simply will not cooperate with the US Government’s drive to extend its empire.. In this context, is Christianity becoming irrelevant?? Pax vobiscum, Clark Gabriel Field>



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L D King

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:45 pm


I find it difficult to take Mr. Reed’s assertion that the Religious Right has shown great concern for issues like poverty, when they have often supported candidates and policies that in fact harm the poor. In the state of Alabama a few years ago, the governor tried to push through the legislature a restructuring of the state’s tax code so that it would no longer be so regressive. It was defeated in part by those who identify with the Religious Right. I am also concerned about the divisiveness that the Right has displayed (although the Left has sinned in this regard also). Jesus declared that others will know we are of God because of our love for one another, yet there is so much backstabbing and consternation among Christians of different ilk. I dare to daydream at times that we all might get over our need to be right (i.e., correct) and learn to truly love one another. It seems to me that’s the only way we’ll ever solve the problems of humanity.>



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Jack

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:46 pm


In this context, is Christianity becoming irrelevant?? Yes, Clark, definitely – at least the de-Mystified form of “Christianity” that most know today. “Christianity” was doomed to become irrelevant because once anything is institutionalized by power-mongers, it dies. But, thanks be to God! He always finds new wineskins which are eager to be filled with His intoxicating fruit of “the Vine.” But the Achilles heel of a “conservative” mind is its resistance to discovery, change and ultimately growth. No, God never changes, but our UNDERSTANDING OF Him inevitably MUST if we’re going to walk with Him. George Bernard Shaw rightly observed that “All great truths begin as blasphemies” – which is unfortunately why “they stone the prophets” and “crucified our Lord.”>



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Michael Benner

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:08 pm


In response to Jim’s thought, “The desire for integrity in our government is growing across the political spectrum…” I have yearned for the limit of terms. The will to be re-elected and the cost of elections place enormous pressures on officials. I know influence could still be purchased, but imagine if we limited terms so officials would be freer to vote their consciences instead of worrying about all the interest groups and voices they feel obligated to appease. In a system of such greed and abuse on all sides it seems like the most logical way to systemic change.>



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Al

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:50 pm


I’m really glad this blog is here… I’m an African American male. I believe in God. I must say that saying the right only has two issues is really crazy.. but understand this both the so called left and right have rallying points because of the media… so what. The media is what it is.. The truth is the right is just trying to, (as they say it) keep the bar up.. Because if you let it slide it keeps sliding and things get worse. Both Democrats & Republicans haven’t ended poverty, fixed healthcare, or Darfur… but you know what… there are people of faith out there who are on the ground giving into & working on all these things. Here is what we need… I want the congress to vote on one thing at a time.. I’m tired of bills being attached to other bills so they can sneek through… Also who enforces law and who makes law.. We need to clear that up.. Both parties guilty here. There is much posturing and rehtoric on both sides… There have been corrupt person on both sides.. So what let’s move on.. We’ve all been duped @ some time or another.. Also be careful about how you fix these things.. I know people who say I don’t have to do anything and the goverment & churches will pay.. They owe me anyway because alot of people are rich so they sould give me some.. there are no simple answers here… be very careful.. I was voting Democrat I’m thinking about changing as I listen and really think this through.. …al>



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Bob Raymond

posted September 23, 2006 at 4:08 am


It is easy for Ralph Reed to say that religious conservatives have more than one or two bread and butter issues and that the media just has not given them more coverage of other social justice issues in their ‘values’ portfolio. As an example they are always quick to jump on any flag-burning amendment but why were they so deafeningly silent in this last generation when the burning was of black churches rather than a symbolic flag? Not a peep, in an area where it was definitely appropriate for their movement to show outrage. It seems to me that that alone speaks for itself.>



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Jason Connolly

posted September 24, 2006 at 10:26 pm


I discontinued my subscription to Sojourners because the content became too simplistic in its analysis and too predictable in its criticisms of President Bush. One thing that truly perplexes me about Jim Wallis is his view on immigration. I believe that Wallis’ emphasis on poverty as a moral issue is appropriate and timely. However, Wallis’ position on immigration reform will only result in more people (particulary non-English speaking, poorly educated) needing assistance from government-funded anti-poverty programs. Wallis decrying the lack of spending on anti-poverty programs while wanting the government to grant legal status to many many persons who will need to avail themselves of programs that Wallis says are already underfunded, makes no sense. Wallis’ position on immigration further ignores the need that Mexico can not have the revolution it needs when the Unites States serves as a safety valve for disenfranchised Mexican citizens.>



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Gary L. Sims

posted September 28, 2006 at 12:46 am


“I find that the American people are weary of the left/right battle lines but are hungry for a moral center in politics, one that the media pundits cannot simply pigeonhole with the worn-out labels of liberal or conservative.” Jim – I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. We are all guilty of labels and it is sometimes difficult to outline an argument without them. However, labels are the main cause to the poliarization we are experiencing in Christianity today. They are unsuccessful attempts at pigeonholing and, instead, are broad-brush barriers to communications. Label me, if you must, a liberal. I agree with 90% of your ideas, comments, and views of the world. But look at this article you’ve posted and count the number of labels you have used. I wonder what the article would sound like if every label were removed? In that condition would it open more avenues of discussion? Peace in Christ – Gary Sims Let’s bring down the walls of name calling that are as thick and obstructive as the walls in Israel and the West Bank.>



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Cynthia Adams

posted September 28, 2006 at 8:12 am


I have spent a couple hours this evening (09/27/06) slogging through these hundreds of posts. How is it so many of you can post and re-post, having long drawn-out and hostile conversations? How do you find the time? I am retired and I don’t have time for this. I just wish to say one thing. Aren’t we supposed to be on the same side here? I don’t get that feeling. Maybe Jim needs to set up some sort of First Principles discussion to find points we can all agree to before moving forward. (Maybe he already has–oops!–I’m new here.) It is quite discouraging that we spend hours arguing the rights and wrongs about homosexuality, abortion, and theology. I thought this group was supposed to be moving beyond the ‘wedge’ issues to promoting national standards for caring for the poor, the elderly, the orphans, the prisoners, the sick, and to preventing violence and war. It is wonderful that some of you are so clearly Biblically literate. However, this is not the local bar. Most of us have accepted Christ many years ago and seek to drink a little deeper from the Well. We actually are way beyond just ‘accepting’ Christ and getting ‘saved’. We are ready for the ‘meat’, the depth and richness of knowing God through obedience to his entire Word, including the part about loving our enemies–literally!–and caring for our neighbors–in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, North Korea, etc. We are concerned that some of our nation’s religious leaders are trying to create a Christian global government with the US as the head of it. They are drunk with power. And they don’t even know it. Ralph Reed is the perfect example of one who has already fallen. And as fellow-Christians it is our sad duty–not to be gloated over–to help them see the error of their ways and avoid losing any more of them. Peoples’ minds are set on abortion and homosexuality. We cannot change them. And many of us agree with them. I believe, however, we have more important things to discuss. War is killing people daily, and making us all less safe. We need to change the conversation. In letting Reed “dialogue” on the two wedge issues, Jim gave away the game. We need to set the topics for a change. Ignore their issues. Talk about ours. Mine is: I am against the war. In fact, after seeing the callous disregard for the concept of ‘just war’, I no longer accept any war as just or Christian. I choose to follow Jesus rather than Augustine. Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies’. He didn’t qualify it. Let’s start by loving our political (and religious) enemies. Instead of taking an adversarial attitude and ‘debating’ issues, we should take a compassionate, helpful attitude. We are all on the side of goodness and right, aren’t we? They say they are. That’s the place to start.>



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Payshun

posted January 17, 2007 at 12:02 am


Wow you leave for a month and come back to find this place is a mess. I don’t know what else to say. We are polarized becaused we don’t listen to each other. Some of us seem way too interested in winning a debate instead of having discussion. I watched an interesting interview about a gentleman that was canned for suggesting that some religious right organization tackle the environment. It’s odd to me that he would get canned for that. It makes no sense. That said it’s good to be back. p>



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Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




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