God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: Speaking to America

posted by jmcgee

Jim WallisWednesday morning, my phone rang, and on the other end of the line was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In an unprecedented invitation, he asked if I would speak to the nation in the Democrat’s weekly radio broadcast this Saturday. In the past, these addresses have been given by elected officials, but the senator thought a non-partisan religious leader could speak to the moral values our nation needs. I thanked him for the invitation, and said I’d get back to him.

Whether or not to accept was a difficult decision. I work hard to maintain my independence and non-partisanship, and didn’t want to be perceived as supporting one party over the other. But it was an occasion to get our message to millions of people, so I decided to accept. Our country faces pressing issues. We are in a time like no other. This requires new ways of engaging leaders, and the Americans they represent. Forums like this one are rarely offered by either party. I thought the good faith effort by Sen. Reid in risking a new approach should be met with my willingness to act in a new way.

I have always looked for opportunities to witness to gospel values wherever possible, regardless of the political party. In the early years of the Bush administration, I publicly supported the faith-based initiative and was in several meetings with the president. At our Pentecost conference last June, senators from both parties – Sam Brownback, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Rick Santorum – addressed the participants. Just this week, I met with key Republican staff members on Capitol Hill to discuss a bi-partisan anti-poverty caucus. So this opportunity comes as part of a long pattern. If the Republicans offered a similar venue, I would accept and deliver the same message.

It is an opportunity to move outside our usual circles and reach many new people. I had complete control of what I would say, and could speak in a non-partisan way about the values and solutions our country so desperately needs by challenging both parties. The text speaks of the need for a government with integrity that can work for the common good, the importance of bi-partisan political leadership in overcoming poverty, the moral need to extricate ourselves from Iraq, the protection of our environment, the changes needed to produce a culture that promotes healthy families, and a common ground effort to dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America. All of these are part of a new politics; the kind of politics that are inspired by our deepest values and that require new leadership by both Democrats and Republicans, and (as I conclude my remarks), from “each and every one of us.”

Check your local listings for broadcast times, and check this blog tomorrow for text and audio of the address. I pray that the message breaks through and truly speaks to America.



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Walter Twachtman

posted December 1, 2006 at 9:39 pm


I am delighted that you have accepted this opportunity to address the Democrats. As a life long Democrat, I have been distressed by the direction my party has taken on these very inportant moral issues, especially abortion. I encourage you to tell the Gospel truth; the truth that goes accorss all party and factional lines; the truth that states that we must protect life at all stages. May God bless your efforts.>



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Kris Weinschenker

posted December 1, 2006 at 9:54 pm


I looking forward to either hearing or seeing what you have to say.>



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timks

posted December 1, 2006 at 9:55 pm


Isn’t the Democrat’s weekly address a rebuttal to president Bush’s weekly address? Does Jim Wallis really believe that anyone will think otherwise just because he is speaking? I also welcome – As Jim Wallis says – the opportunity to witness to gospel values regardless of political party. However, I can’t help but think that this particular forum will be interpreted by many as just more evidence that Sojourners (and Jim Wallis) are really Democrats in vestments.>



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Randy

posted December 1, 2006 at 10:02 pm


If we can only ever make a non-partisan statement to a non-partisan audience then I fear we may rarely or never have the opportunity to speak our truth.>



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jurisnaturalist

posted December 1, 2006 at 10:03 pm


Why is it government’s responsibility to respond to poverty? Where does the Bible include this in the mandates for government? It is the Christian’s responsibility to care for the least of these, and no one else’s. Are we to force non-Christians to give of their finances to the poor? How is that ethical?>



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timks

posted December 1, 2006 at 10:29 pm


Randy said, “If we can only ever make a non-partisan statement to a non-partisan audience then I fear we may rarely or never have the opportunity to speak our truth.” How effective will speaking in this partisan forum be, when Sojourner’s hardly ever stops complaining about how the Religious Right is too partisan?>



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tblog

posted December 1, 2006 at 10:43 pm


Jim: I can’t help but feel strange and uncomfortable about your decision to accept the invitation to speak tomorrow. In your last posting, you continued your vehement mantra about the Bush administration (it seems that there’s a continual rant about the evils of this White House); as timks posted, the Democratic response is usually considered a “rebuttal” to the president/Repub party. I think you’re a smart guy Jim. And I don’t buy all the reasons about “getting our message out” as being the primary motivation for your speaking tomorrow. The Democratic party has seen how much you have lapped up every word from persons like Barack Obama; it seems that they are playing you for the hand that you’re worth. I’m a registered Democrat, and am by no means a fan of this administration. But it seems that Sojourners leaders have developed a kind of “complex” over the past year–where your visibility is considered as being synonymous with always being right about your judgement of every domestic issue. Let’s face it Jim–you consistently sound like an angry democrat who has an axe to grind with Bush. It’s ok to be that way–but it is even worse when you seem to deny it. I think Sojourners and Jim Wallis need to rethink what it means to be fervent about transforming the faith communities that they are primarily called to serve, instead of transforming themselves into just another kindler, gentler, political action committee.>



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Buckeye

posted December 1, 2006 at 11:17 pm


jurisnaturalist said “Where does the Bible include this in the mandates for government? It is the Christian’s responsibility to care for the least of these, and no one else’s. Are we to force non-Christians to give of their finances to the poor? How is that ethical?” I understand your questioning as to why care can be mandated by the government, but I’m confused by your limiting it to Christians. When He commanded love for all, especially the least of us, Jesus wasn’t speaking to Christians, as there were no Christians at the time; He was speaking to all of us.>



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Roger Harkness

posted December 1, 2006 at 11:21 pm


I’m glad that you excepted the invitation. I’m angry about a few things, war and global warming. If we worked on fixing these two problems, it would involve fixing all of the other problems our world faces, but we are going the wrong direction. One way, I kinda praise the Republicans, because while they promote war and pollution, at least their open and honest about it. The Democrats on the other hand, by doing nothing, changing the subject, talk big, do little – that really makes me angry, they are not much better than Republicans. I’d rather have you out front rather than the right wing religious pundits. So thanks for excepting. A little bit is being done, a little bit is better than nothing, but its not enough. Maybe you can give a speech that will convince them to do something. Roger The Okcitykid>



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Roger Gordon

posted December 1, 2006 at 11:26 pm


I am glad you accepted this opportunity, and may God bless and govern your words, Jim. I believe the issue of the Holy Land and its muti- faith significance – Jerusalem especially – but also the question of the power(and its abuse) of the powerful in this respect,(US Jewish and Christian Zionist power) is central to American foreign policy, and its failure. No major party in America dare restrain Israel, which is actually what it needs. (do you encourage your friends to drink and drive?) I sympathise with Israel. It is in the forefront of a worrying and strong threat from islamo-fascism,currently expressed in the Middle East, but increasingly in the West. As evidenced by Hizbollah, for instance,in Lebanon, this trend is far stronger than we are, theologically and politically and in terms of its versatility and its comprehensive fronts (let’s face it, the West IS decadent, and corrupt – and in all kinds of debt).We also have our arrogant imperial legacy (including the theological one). Human rights and international law (not just as prescribed by America)are very important and must be upheld – fought for, and agreed upon through dialogue with Iran and Syria.(Saudi Arabia, China and the rest of us) I believe they have this has the support of all people – certainly Palestinians, most of whom are moderate. (look at how N Irish people have voted in recent years,(for extreme, perceived strong,best for dialogue, parties) and how they are now so close to ultimately talking to each other, face to face, they are just now. It still hasn’t happened they have settled anything, but they are close – there is hope in that!… after all this time….. One of the best films I have seen recently was Robert McNamara’s “The Fog of War”. I highly recommed it. Well – GOd Bless your work Roger Gordon (UK – Greenbelter))>



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Paul

posted December 1, 2006 at 11:30 pm


This will only prove positive for all to see how disengenuous your claims to be non partisan are. Your self delusion is this area (among others) is a tragedy.>



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jessie

posted December 1, 2006 at 11:44 pm


I guess the real question Mr. Wallis should be asking himself is not whether he should give the address, but why the Democratic party would ask him to give it. The reason seem obvious: he is a reliably partisan liberal Democrat who will say nothing that ever upsets the Democratic party.>



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Tom Snyder, Ph.D.

posted December 1, 2006 at 11:46 pm


No, Jesus Is Not a Socialist By Tom Snyder A group of self-described “progressive” Christian evangelicals calling themselves “Red Letter Christians,” and led by the left-oriented Sojourners magazine and left-oriented religious pundits like Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo, has recently emerged in the body politic. These self-proclaimed “progressives” have been making a lot of noise recently complaining about the ties that other Christian evangelicals have long held with the conservative movement in the United States, including the conservative movement in the Republican Party. One policy under attack by these “progressives” is the conservative effort to “cut programs to the poor.” They say that such a policy goes against Jesus Christ’s commands in chapter 24 of the book of Matthew to feed those who are hungry. These “Red Letter Christians” are making a lot of noise, but they are just a bunch of clanging cymbals and the love that they claim to spout has no truth in it whatsoever. What these misguided religious zealots conveniently fail to note is that nowhere in the New Testament or the other books of the Bible do Jesus Christ, His apostles, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, Moses or the Hebrew prophets command the government to take money from its citizens and transfer it to poor people. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite. God presents us with three general ways in the Bible to take care of the poor and needy: 1) through the family; 2) through the church; and 3) through individual charity. The applicable passages for these three ways are Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, Numbers 18:24, Matthew 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 5:3-16. Now, the first two ways are pretty clear. People’s first obligation is to the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned in their own families. Only after they do this do they have any obligation to help the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned through their local church organization. God established the pattern for this kind of church giving in Numbers 18:24 and Deuteronomy 14:28, 29. As David Chilton points out in his great book “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators,” the bulk of Christian giving to the local church should be geared toward financing professional theologians, experts in biblical law and church discipline, teachers of God’s word and leaders skilled in worship. It was only every third year that all the giving was set aside to help the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned. Even then, the money was not given just to anyone who showed up. Those able to work but don’t do not qualify for help. Also, those who have families to take care of them don’t qualify, nor do widows under age 60 qualify, according to the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 5:3-16. Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, talks about the third way in Matthew 6. He tells His listeners that they should give individual charity. He also says they should give such charity secretly: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” In other words, Jesus is not a socialist. Nor is he a liberal. In fact, in none of the Bible passages just cited, nor in any others I know of, does Jesus, God or even Moses cite the government as the means by which the poor, needy, widowed and orphaned are housed, clothed and fed. Thus, a simple, straightforward reading of the Bible, God’s Word, including the “Red Letter” words of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, clearly shows that the American welfare state is anti-Christian and unbiblical. Any Christian who advocates such a government welfare system (including clergymen or women) should be harshly rebuked. Furthermore, any members of any political party, including Republicans, Democrats, Reform Party members, Libertarians or whatever, who advocate such a socialist system yet claim to be Christian should be reprimanded by their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and by all church leaders. If any such party members refuse to repent and change their ways, then their names should be posted at their church and throughout the whole land so that all Christians in the United States can know not to vote for these people or place them in positions of authority and leadership. Of course, all Christians should encourage families to take care of their own. And they should also encourage their churches to give at least one-third of their gross income to help the poor, needy, widowed and orphaned. On that note, it is interesting to recall that the 10th Commandment in Exodus 20:17 actually protects private property by commanding people not to covet their neighbor’s house or belongings. That commands applies to the average citizen as well as the elected official, the judge and all other government officials. Furthermore, the Bible condemns laziness and praises hard work. Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Finally, it is interesting to note that, in Mark 7:20-23, not only does Jesus Christ declare that all sex outside of heterosexual marriage, including homosexuality, pre-marital sex and adultery, is evil, he also declares that both greed and envy are evil. Thus, Jesus Christ condemns both the greed of the rich man as well as the greed of the poor man, and the envy of the poor man as well as the envy of the rich man. Thus, God condemns the politics of envy of the left, and he extols the virtues of hard work and capitalism, not just the value of charity! Liberals and socialists like the “Red Letter Christians,” Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ted Kennedy and former Vice President Al Gore are violating the commands of Jesus Christ, who is God in the Flesh. They are also violating the commands that God gives all of us in the Hebrew Scriptures as well. If they truly want to follow the words of Jesus in the New Testament, they should stop their opposition to the real Christian movement in America and join it. One of the first things they should do immediately is help cut government programs for the poor. Christians must stop the ungodly, immoral rape of American citizens with the totalitarian, socialist welfare state! They must establish a proper and godly system of family, church and private charity. Not just Christians, but all true Americans should follow God’s clear guidance in this matter. God will reward us mightily for our obedience in these matters.>



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Wolverine

posted December 1, 2006 at 11:49 pm


I work hard to maintain my independence and non-partisanship, and didn’t want to be perceived as supporting one party over the other. Jim, I appreciate your sensitivity to, erm, well (grin, chuckle, chortle, snort) hehehe pffft HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (slaps thigh) HEEHEEHEEHOOHOOHOOHAHAHA! Okay, hang on a second… No seriously, Jim, I appreciate your determination to heh, heh, nonpartisanship, chuckle, PFFFT HAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAW! (falls out of chair, rolling on floor laughing…)>



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Mike Hayes 2

posted December 2, 2006 at 12:25 am


The decision wasn’t easy, but I think you were right to accept the offer. May this opportunity lead to other similar opportunities for religious leqders to address both political parties about a wide range of values. Best wishes, Jim Wallis!>



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Mark Gordon

posted December 2, 2006 at 12:47 am


I think clarity is a good thing, and therefore I consider it a great gift that Jim Wallis will be offering the Democratic Party’s response to the President’s weekly radio address. Jim Wallis is a sanctimonious phony. It is a relief to see him clarify his real agenda for all to see.>



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Faithful Progressive

posted December 2, 2006 at 12:54 am


Jim: You made the right choice, as have millions of your fellow Americans. Give them an authentic prophetic Jewish/ Christian Bible voice! FP>



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Wolverine

posted December 2, 2006 at 12:56 am


Okay, all kidding aside, here’s the most likely explanation for why Jim Wallis got this invite. Wallis is known to be a sharp critic of the administration. (Would anyone care to argue this?) BUT Jim Wallis does not have any program for a resolution to the Iraq crisis himself, therefore he will not call on the party, either directly or indirectly, to take any action. Reid knows his party, for all it’s success a month ago, is divided on the question of how Iraq should be resolved. Having Jim Wallis deliver his address guarantees that all factions will be mollified. Reid is trusting that all Wallis’ rehetorical guns will be directed at Republicans in general and Bush in particular, while nothing is said that could be taken as committing or urging Democrats to do anything even slightly controversial. And if Wallis’ preceding article is any indication, Reid’s probably right. Nothing would please me more than to be proved wrong on this. Look, I don’t agree with everything this administration has done in Iraq myself. But Jim Wallis should not kid himself, he was chosen to speak for reasons that have little to do with Christianity and everything to do with partisan politics. Wolverine>



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Bill Samuel

posted December 2, 2006 at 1:04 am


I have mixed feelings about you appearing as the Democratic response to Bush, Jim, but I am glad you are free to say what you are led. I hope you will speak to the range of life issues, regardless of where Democratic Party leaders stand. State that Christians call for an end not only to this war but the war system (explicitly oppose Reid’s call for a $75 billion military budget increase, protection of the unborn, and enhancing lives by working against hunger and poverty at home and abroad. One suspects that the Democratic leadership must consider you a reliable Democrat to have invited you. But don’t fall into the trap. Speak to the moral issues, including those (like militarism) where both the Democratic and Republican Parties serve Satan, as well as those in which Democrats are particularly bad (like abortion) and Republicans particularly bad (like poverty).>



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jurisnaturalist

posted December 2, 2006 at 1:36 am


The Religious Right didn’t get the right message this election. What they heard was, “The secular humanists are winning, we’re all die!” What the voters said was, “Enough lies, GOP, we want a limited government.” Unfortunately Jim Wallis also got the wrong impression. He heard, “We want government to be compassionate.” Government can’t be compassionate. Compassion gives of itself, sacrificially. Government gives of others, and takes a cut. Buckeye, “I’m confused by your limiting it to Christians. When He commanded love for all, especially the least of us, Jesus wasn’t speaking to Christians, as there were no Christians at the time; He was speaking to all of us.” Jesus was speaking directly to His disciples. Those who responded to His call. Only Christians can be compassionate because only Christians can give out of pure motives. Only Christians have pure motives. The Holy Spirit makes possible the change in human nature that ideologies presume to accomplish by force. Only Christians have a defendable reason for adopting a peculiar ethic, they have been called by Christ. Jim Wallis, you can’t make Americans good by changing the laws any more than James Dobson can. You are both wrong. What is necessary is reform in the church, to renounce political means and to fulfill the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit.>



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jurisnaturalist

posted December 2, 2006 at 2:03 am


Dr. Snyder, You and I obviously have similar views. However, cutting and pasting your whole article was a little tacky, and your comments are abrasive. They don’t uplift or empower. I hope to inspire Christians to renounce political means altogether. We ought not to force the world into our way of living. I also feel your point of view overemphasizes the family in a way Jesus did not. Old Testament principles frequently apply to Christians, but there are differences. We have a peculiar ethic given to us that goes beyond even the spirit of the law into being led by the Holy Spirit. I hope that Christians can put forth the efort to undercut government welfare, medicaid, etc., and thus put those programs out of business. We can’t cut the programs first and leave the least of these to perish. We also can’t take a judgemental attitude toward those who are in the government’s care. If the church had been doing its job all along we wouldn’t have these problems. Christians must assume full blame and then shoulder the responsibility for remedying the situtation through sacrificial love, and inspired industry.>



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Felix

posted December 2, 2006 at 2:40 am


What does it matter? Just this, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. Keep going Jim, you’re doing better than most other people in this country! Take the opportunity to talk to hundred thousands and spread the message! People in this country need to hear the truth!>



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Paul

posted December 2, 2006 at 4:11 am


The problem is that it isn’t Jesus who is being proclamed.>



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Elizabeth

posted December 2, 2006 at 4:46 am


Hi Jim! I support you 100 percent. I am happy to hear you are willing to step up to new challenges as a non-partisan religious leader. I don’t think you will have the problems the far right Religious Group did as a partisan party, because you will be speaking for all different kinds of people in a non-threatening manner. That’s important. I’m looking forward to learning from you as well as the people around us. When, we take risks, we learned a lot more than if we do not take any chances. Good luck!>



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mat

posted December 2, 2006 at 7:42 am


Dr. Snyder, While I see good points in some of what you wrote saying this: “Thus, God condemns the politics of envy of the left, and he extols the virtues of hard work and capitalism, not just the value of charity!” causes some confusion. While the point of envy is taken. “God extolling capitalism” is not very well taken. The point of capitalism is to make money and use the strongest means to outdo your competitors so that you can be more efficient. That does not seem very Biblical to me.>



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Brendan Conroy

posted December 2, 2006 at 10:50 am


Looking at these comments from the luxurious distance of Dublin,Ireland I am struck more than anything else by the bitter seeming taste of a house divided against itself and by the easy rush to judgement by some of the true motives of others. Surely all of us Christians have been asked by none other than Jesus to leave the judgement of others to God least we want to be judged by our own extremely limited boundaries of mercy? On the question of Government feeding the hungry, I think that the test of the Last Judgement (the only judgement that actually counts in the end) is what all of our actions will be measured against. :- “Then the King will tell those on his right hand,’Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, saying,’Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ “The King will answer them,’Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Government is made up of individual human beings flawed like the rest of us whose actions both in Government and in their private lives will both be judged by the above test – none of our actions are hermetically sealed from the exortations of the Gospel not least how we decide on Government policies if we happen to be in that position. “oh Jesus I fed you after I left the office every day but while I was in the office I didn’t pay any attention as to whether any of my decisions would result in your not being fed while I was at work…” It seems to me that time and time again Jesus judged people by the quality of love they showed in their actions – something that was often invisible to those looking on from the outside – which of us could say that the quality of our love is untainted by mixed motives? Yet that is not a reason not to keep trying to love more purely. I believe Jim deserves the assumption that he too is acting out of love and that in that acting out he IS doing the work of God. After all it is the lukewarm, those who are neither cold nor hot whom Jesus reserves the right to vomit out of his mouth – I don’t think Jim qualifies. Brendan Conroy who sees things that inspire and things that revolt in BOTH the Republican and Democratic parties.>



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Brian Backe

posted December 2, 2006 at 11:41 am


Dear Jim, In summary, Amen!! As a serious life-long, Pro-Life Democrat and a Catholic, I continue to follow your writings, interviews and books with deep interest as I have for the past 20 years. I was especially glad to see that you are using this opportunity to push the Democratic Party hard to find its footing with faith issues. Each election season I face a dilemma in the voting booth because as you have said for a long time both political parties have it partially right and seriously wrong with respect to “life” issues. I personally believe that Republicans are right to push for restrictions on abortions, but dead wrong to focus so much on tax cuts (immoral budgets) which reduce the resources to care for unwed mothers and children. My own Democratic party is 100% right to push for more spending for the poor but have it wrong with their “finger-in-the-dike” approach to legalized abortion. They ignore any rights for the unborn child. Everyone puts far too little energy into prevention and other solutions. As a Catholic, I find my churches position on the subject of life issue to be sound and consistent. I have heard you talk on NPR about Catholic Social Teaching and we both know these core values are not unique to the Catholic church . . . but they are very well “packaged.” As you know, the first principle is that human life has dignity and is always sacred and that means to me that I must oppose the idea and practice of abortion (I get that no one actually wants an abortion). But I was deeply shocked to learn a few years ago that at least according to one estimate by the World Heath Organization abortion takes 120,000 unborn lives each day and many women die in the process! (Why have I have never seen this statistic in print?) However, as you have long preached it also means we must work MUCH harder on the underlying issues of reducing unwanted pregnancies, encouraging adoption, and caring for low-income mothers and children. We are challenged to oppose the death penalty and we are asked to dissuade our elected leaders from using preemptive military force when it is morally unjustified. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, for any people of faith to claim the moral high ground on life issues we must do everything we possibly can to help the 29,000 children who die EACH and every day from starvation and completely preventable diseases (UNICEF numbers). I know from 20 years of first-hand experience that we can do something here to reduce these numbers. For now, I remain cautiously optimistic that one of our newly elected leaders will help us find common ground on these difficult issues. I also pray that over the next two years at least one courageous Presidential candidate will emerge (or be pushed forward by Sojourners) who is willing to take on the full spectrum of life issues. Until then, like millions of other Pro-Life Catholics, I will work harder to support and encourage you and Sojourners in any way I can as one of the most thoughtful voices in our national political life. God Bless you Jim and your hardworking staff! Brian Backe Westminster, Maryland PS: These views are strictly personal and in no way represent the views of any Catholic organization. PPS: Just to see if anyone in your office is scanning these over… I sent a version of this into your office as a article suggestion. I know they must be very busy but was disspointed by the reaction… In the email from your office they seemed to think I was writing entirely about abortion. I would hope your own staff of all people would get the complexity of this position??>



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Milt Willford

posted December 2, 2006 at 11:59 am


I am sure Jim can distinguish between “speaking for” Democrats and “speaking from” a forum provided by Democrats. Jim cannot control how his presence will be perceived. Life is never risk-free, and I am grateful that Jim is not risk-aversive. He will, no doubt, state that his words are intented for “all of us”. The airwaves are a public domain. If the Advent message does nothing else it should prepare us for (what Gomer Pyle so often said) SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE! We all have our reasons for wanting to “domesticate” Jesus and his message. The words Jesus spoke are true, not because he spoke them, rather, he spoke them because they are universal truths. Therefore, they deserve a universal hearing. I am clear that it will be Jim speaking, not Jesus. I am grateful that Brendan came into the conversation to remind us what’s at stake. We are not in the ship of state to score partisan points, but in the household of faith to invite everyone to the feast with Abraham, the father of all the tribes, nations and human communities. Milt Willford>



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advocate

posted December 2, 2006 at 12:22 pm


Well said Brendan, We are all responsible for how we respond to the poverty we meet on a daily basis. back to the article: “the moral need to extricate ourselves from Iraq” What about the moral need to fix what we have broken? It is the arrogance, fickleness and two faced approach that has blighted the good that the west could have done, be that in “invading” native american lands in thte 1800s with promises to uphold those people’s values, to short termism in 1970s Vietnam or 1990s Somalia leading ultimately to further bloodshed (eg: khmer rougue 1.7 to 3 million dead only stopped by an invasion by the Vietnamese!) and defeat. Now again in Iraq. The fighting is too intense, our TV ratings are going down the tubes, lets not try to stop it, ok we used too few troops to invade/restore order in the first place but let’s reduce troop numbers further and make sure they stay in remote compounds away from both the real people and the action, better still let’s run and let them kill each other – after all they aren’t americans…… The West is impatient, greedy for fast results and short term profit. Since WW2 we are unwilling to pay the ultimate price of peace. Where is the staying power to give peace a chance? Similar things are happening in Darfur Sudan where the AU is underfunded, under staffed, under equippped and given little authority to help keep order. Just as in Rwanda, we are responsible there by our association with the UN and as human beings. The bravest are people like Norman Kember and the late Tom Fox. Where are the peace activists putting flowers into Janjaweed AK47 gun barrels? On top of that we are sensationalists. Let’s make up a news story and then look for ways of backing it up! Democratically elected govt in Iraq? OK let’s call it the puppet govt of oil greedy US masters in the media. Let’s tell the world how it’s barely struggling to survive, describe only the mass killings and bombings and attract lots of jihadis to the party. Is it any wonder there is trouble there? Every negative broadcast becomes a self fullfilling prophesy – the media rarely tell the truth with love. Yes tell the truth but let’s have all of it : the GOOD and not just the bad. Remember the old adage “careless talk costs lives?” See how one of pope benedict XVI’s recent lectures was blown out of all proportion in the news which resulted in the killing of an Italian nun in Somalia and attacks on Christian churches in Palestinian territories. Apart from the removal of Sadam, once all the US troops are out of Iraq (be that 2007 or 2050) can we say, hand on heart, that they were given all the authority/equipment/ direction required to leave that nation a better place? In the end the Iraqi people and God will decide. God forgive us, God help us!>



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nickerson

posted December 2, 2006 at 12:30 pm


It is great that you have been asked to give this talk on a Democratic sponsored radio broadcast. We look forward to hearing of your invitation to speak on a similar show sponsored by the Republicans. The electorate of our democracies express their religious faith in letters to their legislators and at the ballot box. Unlike the kings and emporers at the time of the Bible the politians work for us. The politicians must obey what the voters want. The religious values of the politicians and the electorate are extremely important. I pray that this dialog can help in clarifying issues and establish a more understanding mind among all of us. Nick>



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gary

posted December 2, 2006 at 1:30 pm


I was a disillusioned Christian, disillusioned until I found SoJourners, a source of hope in this world where teachings have been twisted & tainted by right wing zealots. God bless you, Jim, and your staff. You’re going to take a lot of flak for your opinions and actions. That’s to be expected, though, because the truth is going to make lots of people uncomfortable. Keep up the good work.>



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BK Hipsher

posted December 2, 2006 at 1:52 pm


Whether you speak or not is up to you but when you use rhetorical codes words like “…the changes needed to produce a culture that promotes healthy families, and a common ground effort to dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America”… now you have my attention. This is code for anti-gay, anti-choice and I for one am offended and wary of this kind of language. I am all for producing a culture that values families. Yet the construction of my family is not recognized, much less valued, in American culture so pardon me if I’m not on the bandwagon of promoting the kind of mindset that keeps me marginalized. How about we work for civil rights for all citizens including the right to make a family with whomever we choose, regardless of gender? And I am all for reducing the number of abortions to zero by alleviating poverty, providing education, ridding ourselves of the ridiculous restrictions on the use of birth control and condoms that will prevent both unwanted pregnancy AND disease. How about we address the root causes of the need for abortion rather than coming dangerously close to limiting half the population’s (yes I mean women’s) civil rights? Reproductive freedom must be protected.>



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jessie

posted December 2, 2006 at 4:36 pm


Brian, I am guessing that they didn’t like your article’s take on abortion because Jim Wallis and (likely) most of the Sojo staff are pro-choice. They do not want any legal protection for unborn children. They do not see abortion as an injustice. On the other hand, they do consider things like tax cuts (ie, letting people keep their money) to be the most evil of injustices. Thanks for the World Health Organization numbers on abortion. Those are truly shocking…don’t expect Wallis or Sojo to ever mention them.]]> 2006-12-02T17:25:34-05:00 Samuel S mayonaise1616161@yahoo.com 65.26.140.248 “Next a word to you who have great possessions. Weep and wail over the miseable fate descending on you. Your riches have rotted; your fine clothes are moth-eaten; your silver and gold have rusted away, and their very rust will be evidence against you and consume your flesh like fire. You have piled up wealtin in an age that is near its close. The wages you never paid to the men who mowed your fields are loud agains you, and the outcry of the reapers has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.” James 5:1-4 Sounds to me like God doesnt want us to keep our money as much as we want us to keep our money.>



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Wolverine

posted December 2, 2006 at 5:36 pm


I just finished reading the transcript of Jim’s talk, and while (obviously) I didn’t agree with all of it, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Wallis went relatively light on his criticism of the Bush administration and stuck mainly to a description of Sojourners ideals. There is one assertion that I would question: Leaders in both parties are acknowledging that the only moral and practical course is to dramatically change the direction of U.S. policy, starting with an honest national debate about how to extricate U.S. forces from Iraq with the least possible damage to everyone involved. I think its safe to say that there is a consensus that our occupation of Iraq is going badly, and that major changes in strategy are called for. I don’t see a consesnsus that the solution is to “extricate” our troops, at least not in the near term. All in all, though, Wallis got word out about his organization, sounded reasonable, and did little damage in the process.>



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Paul

posted December 2, 2006 at 5:38 pm


Jim, I want to congratulate you on the civility of your address. If this sort of tone had been consistent through the over 30 years I’ve known you, I would have much more respect for you. What has troubled me more than your thinly veiled marxism has been the lack of evidence of the fruit of the spirit in your dealings with those with whom you disagree. As to the content, while few would be able to disagree with your points, you offered nothing but platitudes. I’m sure that President Bush would agree with most if not all of your comments, but he tries to put them into practice in ways different from you. When it comes to really doing something about the problems, you are very quick to throw stones, but cannot offer any real practical solutions.>



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kevin s.

posted December 2, 2006 at 5:53 pm


“This is really pretty silly. Whats so hard to believe about Jim being non partisan.” I dunno, maybe it’s the fact that he takes the liberal viewpoint on literally every issue (including abortion and gay marriage, btw), puts the Democrat’s prime presidential aspirant on his cover, received direct phone calls for Harry Reid, wines and dines with the Clinton’s, insinuated in his bestselling book that the president is akin to the anti-Christ, gets paid to counsel Democrats on making their message sound more religious, hosts a blog that was giddy with excitement over the November elections, mentions that his father was hopeful that the Democrats would win, takes literally every opportunity to criticize the Bush administration, and then tops it all off by delivering the address for the party. Other than that, I’m as confused as you are.>



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Roger

posted December 2, 2006 at 6:28 pm


Bravo Jim for your decision. Getting your message out is most important. I wonder when the Republicans will invite you to do the same thing. I would love to post your audio on my social justice blog when youu make it available.>



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Timbo

posted December 2, 2006 at 6:58 pm


Kevin, will you marry me?>



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Samuel S

posted December 2, 2006 at 7:05 pm


Kevin you R teh lAwL3rz. Of course Jim criticizes the Bushites at every turn, theyre the ones making decisions and up to this point usually pretty bad ones. I think if you read what Jim actually wrote when the Dems swept congress you’ll see he wasnt so excited that his party of choice was back on top, but that it wa a sign of what hes been saying all along, that people are sick of the status quo. I agree that he’s pretty liberal on most of the “issues” which I would say doesnt make him a tool of the Democrats. I dont think his liberal-ness stems from any political thinking but rather from careful religious reflection. I think that ultimately he claims the flag of bi partisanship in order to demonstrate what it looks like to suspend ones own affiliation. Im not stupid im pretty sure that when Jim votes its a pretty left leaning ticket, but that doesnt mean he wishes it werent so.>



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Rod - a believer and a Bush su

posted December 2, 2006 at 7:19 pm


How interesting. After years and years and years of the Dems criticizing President Bush and the real religious community (right or left), for injecting religion in politics, they try to pull the wool over our eyes by presenting a wolf in sheep’s clothing as a “nonpartisan”. Wallis is as much a left-wing activist as one can find. Please, this is a perfect example of how dumb the Dems think the religious right is. It’s true, “all we are sheep”, but not all of us sheep are blind. You can’t get much more partisan than this. And, I, for one, believe we need to keep the partisan in politics. Otherwise, why don’t we all move to Communist China where’s there’s only one party? The idea that “can’t we all get along” is juvenile. Of course we can’t – our ideas are different, our motives are different, our priorities are different. Democrats – grow up and get real. Just be yourselves – pro-abortion, anti-Christian, anti-family, pro-homosexual lifestyles, anti-business, pro-taxes, oh, yes, and don’t forget – pro-cut-and-run and run and run and quit and quit, and anti-American. Looks like the Presidential race of ’08 is on and the Dems are showing their true colors right out of the gate. Dems – you don’t fool us. Mr. Wallis, you sound like a nice man, but the Holy Scriptures say a great deal about homosexuality, and, as you say, lots of other issues. We might not like it, just as I don’t care to face my sins at times, but that doesn’t change the fact.>



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Esther

posted December 2, 2006 at 7:35 pm


I think that anytime someone can interject some spiritual thinking into the American collective unconscious, it’s a good thing. It could even plant a seed of faith in the skeptical, where the Judgementalists had uprooted the appeal for God in the first place. Judgementalism turns away the very ‘lost sheep’ that Jesus mandated that we find. I read the transcript of Jim’s speech and was pleased with the positive message he imparted. I do have one question, though. Given that Jesus strongly advocated loving others without jugdement, why did this discussion digress to such irrelevant topics as trying to mandate other people’s choices? Brendan was right; we should remember Jesus’s teachings so that we govern our own actions, and let God be the judge of everyone else’s. Any talk that encourages us to love God and love others will help build the Kingdom Jesus had in mind.>



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kevin s.

posted December 2, 2006 at 7:48 pm


“Kevin you R teh lAwL3rz.” The what now? “Of course Jim criticizes the Bushites at every turn, theyre the ones making decisions and up to this point usually pretty bad ones.” If you are a democrat, of course you think he has made bad decisions at every turn. If you are not, then it is not so obvious that he has made bad decisions at every turn. However, not every decision Bush has made has been conservative. He is not all that conservative of a president (relative to, say, Reagan). However, Wallis has turned his more liberal initiatives on their end in a manner that has very closely resembled democratic talking points. “I agree that he’s pretty liberal on most of the “issues” which I would say doesnt make him a tool of the Democrats.” I didn’t say that he is a tool of the Democrats. I said he is a Democrat. I don’t think Dobson is a tool of Republicans, but could you keep a straight face if I told you he wasn’t one? “I dont think his liberal-ness stems from any political thinking but rather from careful religious reflection” For example, after careful religious reflection, he determined that God forbade personal retirement accounts when he said that we are to honor our mothers and fathers. That he injects his left-wing views with a sloppy, self-serving exegesis like this doesn’t mean that he is not thinking politically. “I think that ultimately he claims the flag of bi partisanship in order to demonstrate what it looks like to suspend ones own affiliation” So, you are saying that he is affiliated with democrats, but uses the flag of bi-partisanship to demonstate what it looks like not to be? Is it at all telling that you cannot defend his hypocrisy without conceding my point? ” Im not stupid im pretty sure that when Jim votes its a pretty left leaning ticket, but that doesnt mean he wishes it werent so.” I am a conservative (obviously). I vote a pretty right-leaning ticket. I wish it weren’t so as well, and that everyone would come around and realize that I am right. Alas, there are people with different ideas, and they seem to have formed a rather successful political party, it turns out. Now, just because I wish that both parties would just give up and concede that conservatives are right, doesn’t make me non-partisan, does it?>



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kevin s.

posted December 2, 2006 at 7:53 pm


“Given that Jesus strongly advocated loving others without jugdement, why did this discussion digress to such irrelevant topics as trying to mandate other people’s choices? ” Who is mandating? I don’t think being critical of other people’s choices is out of bounds from a scriptural perspective. Jesus was very critical of people’s choices. But surely you are aware that Wallis has voiced criticisms of many other religious leaders? Maybe that’s the point you were making.>



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Mike Hayes 2

posted December 2, 2006 at 9:05 pm


“…As you know, the first principle is that human life has dignity and is always sacred and that means to me that I must oppose the idea and practice of abortion (I get that no one actually wants an abortion)… …For now, I remain cautiously optimistic that one of our newly elected leaders will help us find common ground on these difficult issues. I also pray that over the next two years at least one courageous Presidential candidate will emerge (or be pushed forward by Sojourners) who is willing to take on the full spectrum of life issues. Until then, like millions of other Pro-Life Catholics, I will work harder to support and encourage you and Sojourners in any way I can as one of the most thoughtful voices in our national political life…”. Brian Backe, I agree with your view of the complexity underlying the ethics of the decisions we all have to make as voters… these are difficult issues to balance. We may or may not differ on what i will refer to as “absolutes”. Let me focus on “… human life has dignity and is always sacred and that means to me that I must oppose the idea and practice of abortion… “. You may or may not mean that we all should oppose the practice of abortion by supporting legislation to prohibit abortions and by voting against candidates who will not vote to prohibit abortions. I would prefer to contact you directly to first ask that clarifying question, but that is not possible. In the early 60′s, I was taught (as best I can remember) at Loyola of Chicago that there are exceptions to the prohibition against killing, and that circumstances should be taken into account… a soldier was justified in killing opposing troops in combat… a woman was justified in having an abortion in circumstances of rape or incest or to protect her own life… a person whose life is threatened could use deadly force if necessary. I also recall that a person was to follow their own “informed” conscience in determining whether an action was or was not ethical. The underlying concept was that many decisions are complicated and it is not possible to set out a complete list of every possible circumstance every person might ever face, on every issue, and we rational, mature adults are expected to take responsibility for our own decisions. What about the decisions we all make as voters? How should persons who recognize the importance of all the values identified in “God’s Politics” approach voting if one candidate opposes internationalizing the decision whether to invade Iraq and another candidate opposes laws prohibiting abortions in the US? Some Catholic bishops and clergy supported the election of George W Bush in 2004 because he supported prohibitions against abortion. They did that even though he had refused to seek international support and instead decided to invade Iraq based on suspected presence of chemical and biological weapons and the potential for use of those against the west. In 2004, Richard Durbin responded to statements that voters should reject John Kerry because Kerry would not support a legal prohibition against abortion. Durbin pointed out that Kerry supported many more of a more complete set of moral values than did George W Bush. The response from a number of persons, including Rick Santorum, was that failure to support legislation to prohibit abortion trumped all the other issues. At about that same time, a local clergy person publicly stated that Richard Durbin should be denied communion. Some time in 2005, this person was appointed as a bishop in Texas. Bishops and clergy and others who speak out to claim that voters must not vote for a candidate who refuses to support legal prohibitions against abortion, no matter what positions they and the opposing candidate take on any other issue, apparently think they are obligated to do so; however, they do influence the votes of persons who might otherwise vote differently. I think they use their authority to influence decisions by voters in elections. Their level of influence on some voters is persuasive. A person I know who was in her 90′s decided to vote for George W Bush in 2004 because she thought she was ethically obligated to do so. She had been led to believe that by a program she had watched on EWTN. This person had never before voted for a republican for president. It is possible that George W Bush won the 2004 election because clergy persuaded voters who might have voted for John Kerry to instead vote for his opponent. How different might the course in Iraq have been? More importantly, are these religious leaders right? I distinguish between the idea that abortion is not ethical absent compelling circumstances (health of the pregnant woman, rape, incest, and other circumstance in which a woman may decide that an abortion is the best of available options for her in her pregnancy) and support for legislation to prohibit a pregnant woman from access to abortion if she determines that is the best of options available for her. I certainly agree with you that these are difficult matters for voters to decide. I think we have to do our very best to decide, following our informed conscience. For some of us, that led to the decision to vote for John Kerry in 2004, and others of us decided to vote for George W Bush. I think those differing decisions were ethically made, for those of us who did the best we could to sort out the issues, complicated as they were. I think some clergy misused their substantial influence by expressing preference for one candidate over another and telling their congregations that they (members of congregations) were ethically obligated to vote for that candidate, based on the single issue of making abortion illegal. Whether law should prohibit clergy from doing that is a separate matter, I think. Perhaps if there were no prohibition against such influence clergy who do it would be more obvious in how they go about it, and less persuasive in the effort.>



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the hawk

posted December 2, 2006 at 9:08 pm


I remain adament to seperation of religion and goverment. Too much is at stake with this world when there are so many muslems out to get us i.e. kill us, yet the pacifists seem too be getting a lot of press these days to feel that the muslems are not true to their word.>



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Canadian Eh?

posted December 3, 2006 at 12:51 am


Jim Wallis’s comments are as always provocative, but I am afraid the decay runs far deeper than you suggest. Ivan Illich grasped an essential point when he suggested in Cayle and Illich’s “Rivers North of the Future” that our time is founded not upon a post-Christian hedonism but upon a corrupt form of Christianity. The attempt to guarantee slavation through a juridical process, membership in a religious, social or cultural elite or through a technical work or ritual gives a time when the best has become the worst. In a non-Illichian vein, however, I am equally critical of those who believe that all poltical parties are equally corrupt and thereby become evangelically non-partisan. In our own country this has meant the coming to power of right wing ideologues–those who argue on Spenserian, Stausian and Hyaekian lines for the survival only of the wealthy and the powerful as the sign of God’s blessing. Sadly they may contniue in power until more of us cease being non-partisan and choose to be involved, necessarily in a partisan way. Non-patisanship and cynicism about the political process have only given power to those who think profits=prophetc and market places =freedom. This is not to argue that our theological vision will not continue to be critical of the “side” we choose–there is no pure or perfect political structure, but we of course keep working for change. The other option, which I do have respect for, is the one the Amish and other communities have chosen, living outside the dominant culture. I am unconvinced that being a “Chrisitian” makes one morally superior or guarantees salvation. However, It is true that your most morally sound President Jimmy Carter was a Christian of depth and substance. He was thrown out of office after only one term because he actually did challenge some of the real gods of America–limitless economic growth and exploitation of the earth and the right to militarily control the world. Your most celebrated President Reagan with his rather sad and morally vacuous “charm” and pious “God and America” talk was given two successive terms in office. The Taliban, Osama bin Laden, and Sadam’s Iraq were all supported by Reagan. As well the sense of the common good in politics was under full attack in Reagan’s America and Thatcher’s Britain. Sadly, superficiality and pious rhatoric appears to go along way in your country, where depth and deeply critical moral vision carries no weight. I was struck by something Mary Gordon (American Catholic writer)said about feeling American culture is trapped by the god of Christian Fundamentalism on one side and the god of consumerism on the other. I am afraid that the theology oozing over the border from USA appears to be the theology of these two religions coupled with the god of Empire. A truly unholy trinity. The critical thinking needed is one that is aimed at our own theological assumptions and at the cultural myths we live by. The radical change needed cuts far deeper and pious rhetoric often is a cover for a corrupt ethical ethos. Daniel Bogert-O’Brien, A Partisan Canadian>



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timks

posted December 3, 2006 at 2:38 am


Daniel Bogert-O’Brien: Where did Hayek ever endorse the view that “survival only of the wealthy and the powerful” was the sign of God’s blessing? Have you ever even read Hayek?>



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kevin s.

posted December 3, 2006 at 4:14 am


“It is possible that George W Bush won the 2004 election because clergy persuaded voters who might have voted for John Kerry to instead vote for his opponent. How different might the course in Iraq have been?” Well, we would have enacted Kerry’s sweeping proposals, including… um… Well, he’s a Democrat so it would have been totally better cause Bush just likes to torture people.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:15 am


PART 1- For Mr Snyder: Do you realize that the same exact methods you just used to “prove” that it is wrong for us Christians to support government programs for the poor….have also been used to “prove” that Jesus Christ and the Bible teach reincarnation! Want to go there? Ask me – and I’ll show you the websites and the articles that use the exact same faulty methods of Bible study to prove that reincarnation is Biblical. All you need to do is focus on isolated verses and small passages in Scripture, and build whole entire cases out of them – BUT ignore the general example and big picture set by huge passages. It’s been said that you can prove “anything” using the Bible. And I agree. You can – especially if you use the kind of proof-texting that you just did.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:17 am


PART 2 – For Mr. Snyder What you wrote up above is the exact stuff that was shoved down my throat 30 years ago, when I first put my faith in Jesus Christ. I stayed silent – even though I could never justify that kind of teaching with the plain example set by Jesus Christ and the early believers. I stayed silent and went along…but I knew, way down deep, that it was very, very wrong. But I stay silent no more. Thirty years later, I look at all the people who have taught what you are teaching – and the chickens have come home to roost! YOU are the exact people who have produced the Ken Lays and the Bernie Ebbers of Enron and MCI – who can loudly proclaim on national TV cameras what fine Christians they are, all the while they are screwing everyone in the entire country over….and they see nothing wrong with what they are doing. Because it is the logical end of all you people teach. That exact kind of self-deception. These men carried all the things you taught to their utterly logical conclusion.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:24 am


PART 3 – For Mr. Snyder: I will try to explain why none of this makes sense to me. But before I begin, I need to explain some things. I don’t use the Old Testament as a pattern for living. The Old Testament contains wonderful examples of faith in God and God’s power. I go to the Old Testament to see how big and powerful my God is. But the instructions of the Old Testament were given for a time before Jesus Christ had come. Many of them are repeated in the New Testament – and if they are, they still hold and are to be followed. But many, many aren’t. As Galations 3:19 says: “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels, by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.” And then in 24 and 25: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” For a humorous look at this at all the obvious examples of how none of us follow some of the Old Testament Law anymore, please do a search on Google. And…I’m sure this is not how you conduct yourself – and so…see my point? I love the Old Testament – but I first check the New Testament before I go copying examples or patterns. Case in point. The United States is not Israel. Israel was a theocratic monarchy – in waiting for their permanent Messiah. God dealt with them as a nation. The United States is just a collection of believers and non-believers who God deals with on an individual basis. God never told us to set up a theocracy in the New Testament. He told us to share the gospel and make disciples and be a blessing to those around us. Israel was under the Law whose purpose was to be a tutor to lead us to Christ. Christ has now come…and…unless something is repeated…we have to use great discernment before rushing off to apply it.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:28 am


PART 4 – For Mr. Snyder: Mr. Snyder said, “nowhere in the New Testament or the other books of the Bible do Jesus Christ, His apostles, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, Moses or the Hebrew prophets command the government to take money from its citizens and transfer it to poor people.” That is true. But I’m afraid you missed the whole point as far as WHY this is true. The truth is that Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul gave very few instructions ABOUT ANYTHING on what the government is to do. That is because Jesus and the early apostles lived in times when nobody had much of a voice in the Imperial Roman Government that occupied the region. What Jesus or Christians thought about what the government ought to be doing would have made little difference. Believers in those days were confined to exercising their Christian values in their everyday lives – at home, at work, in their neighborhoods, where they did their marketing. And the book of Acts and the epistles to the churches are full of example of how early believers cared for the poor. But…why WOULD Jesus have given any such instruction that the Christians should support government programs to help the poor? Or any other programs for that matter? Who would have listened…or cared? Certainly not Caesar or the Roman Army! That is why you have Paul telling slaves to obey their masters. It wasn’t because God approved of slavery – but because it was something they couldn’t change. If slavery was wrong – tough luck! Who cared? Their task was “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change.” Today is much different. Our Christian values can also be openly expressed in the government arena. When we vote (which early Christians could not), we are to vote our values just as we express them in our daily lives. We are to be “salty” and to vote “with salt”. If the salt loses its saltiness, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out. And so…that would include our concern for the poor. By the way, I looked up Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, Numbers 18:24 – and afraid I’m not sure how you think they apply to giving to the poor. If you look those passages up, they give instructions to the Jews how to give out of their tithe to the LEVITES – who were engaged full time in God’s service. If those passages have an application…it would be to how we take care of pastors…and Christian workers. People whom like the Levites, do not have the time to make a living because they are spending their time serving God.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:30 am


PART 5 – For Mr. Snyder: One thing that does stand out to me in the New Testament are passages such as: “Set your mind on the things above, not the things of this earth.” Colossians 3:2 “My kingdom is not of this world.” The words of Jesus before Pilate. “Brethren, join in following my example and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk of whom I have often told you and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ…whose end is destruction, whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” Philippians 3:17-21 No, life in this world is never to be our main focus. It’s temporary. If we are poor, it will eventually pass. Consequently, I would not want to see Christians – right OR left, Republican OR Democrat – spending the bulk of their time seeking to influence the government. This world is simply not our home. This world is broke. All we can apply are band-aids. Here, you and I would agree – certainly seeking government help to the poor should not be our central emphasis. But…we still must live in this world – and I look at “the example” we are to look for, like Philippians 3 tells me I’m supposed to. Jesus fed people – knowing they’d be hungry again. He healed people, knowing they’d eventually die. In short, He gave out band-aids. But Jesus always let people know they were just band-aids – and what they really needed was eternal life. And so…given our very different situation in America, I see nothing wrong with trying to influence the government with our Christian values to help the poor. We are expressing our values just as we do at home, at work, in our neighborhoods, where we shop. The key issue is…where is our main focus? On handing out band-aids? Or on helping people prepare for eternity? I repeat: Jesus always made it dead clear that the bread He fed with and the healing He did were only band-aids. He clearly told people that what they really needed was the forgiveness His death on the cross offered.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:36 am


I would agree with you, that people are first responsible for family members that are needy. I also agree that we need to be careful that we aren’t getting scammed. Scammers exist. However, I’m pretty hesitant about your assertion that: ” the bulk of Christian giving to the local church should be geared toward financing professional theologians, experts in biblical law and church discipline, teachers of God’s word and leaders skilled in worship.” “Guilt manipulators”? Gimmee a break! Mister…there are so many churches that have soooo many earthly goods. Their pastors drive around in pricey cars, they have staff and worship leaders up the wazoooo. How much of that is really needed? Philippians 3…”Observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” How did Jesus live? Paul? Peter? How much of what so many churches have is really needed? I don’t want an answer to that question…and trust me, I don’t “go there”. That is for each church to decide, not me. And so…I will leave those kinds of churches to wrestle with those kinds of issues. But…are all these things really needed? Or are they used as excuses to keep from doing what God wants us to do? When I read your comment, to be honest, a certain “tone” came across to me. That you were just looking for any and all manner of excuses to justify not giving to the poor. I can’t know what you’re thinking. But God does. I’m not certain how on earth you get Matthew 6′s admonition to do your giving quietly and without fanfare as an indication that Jesus was not a socialist! I know both socialists and capitalists that blow loud trumpets every time they give to anything. Sorry…I’m missing your point. Although…I agree that Jesus wasn’t a socialist. Socialism is an imperfect human philosophy…as are capitolism, communism, democracy, anarchy, libertarianism – just about everything you could name. So…how could Jesus endorse any of them? He is perfect, while us human beings are always so un-perfec. As are all of our philosophies and “isms”.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:39 am


PART 6 – For Mr. Snyder: You miss the point when you decry “socialism” and “liberalism”. Yes, socialism will fail. But…what you are ignoring is “why” it will fail. It will fail because people will get lazy. But…why? Why…why…why will it fail? Socialism is just a word. Isn’t it really the human beings that will fail? They are the ones who GET lazy. Who makes them get lazy? Socialism? No…because not everyone gets lazy. It is our fallen human nature. Man sins. So will capitalism fail! Because people will be greedy and heartless toward those who have not. And…once again, why will it fail? Because of human beings with fallen human natures. Man sins. Capitalism is just a word – like socialism. Neither make people sin. People make themselves sin. You are looking for a scapegoat to say “If only this were removed, things would be better.” But the entire Scriptures give testimony to the fact that the problem is mankind in general. It’s you. It’s me. We sin. “We have found the enemy, and it is within.” If I remember correctly, that is why God sent His Son – to die for you and me and the rest of fallen humanity. Whether they were socialists or capitalists – or whatever. And so..neither socialism nor capitalism will work – because in order to work, they would require human beings that are neither lazy nor greedy and heartless. Human beings that are not fallen and don’t give in to their sin natures. And since even Christians sin….sounds like tough sledding, huh?>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:41 am


PART 7 – For Mr. Snyder: You wrote, “Exodus 20:17 actually protects private property by commanding people not to covet their neighbor’s house or belongings.” The government’s job is to protect its citizens and work for the common good. It requires taxes to pay for police protection, national security protection, and yes, to protect the weak and poor – from those who would take advantage of them. I agree that none of us should be coveting our neighbor’s house or belongings. Again, this world isn’t our home. But…how is wanting a living wage so you can afford to feed your family, wanting access to affordable health care – so you can be healthy enough to be a productive citizen, wanting a decent education for your children – “covetousness”? If you’re wanting to keep up with the Joneses…you’re covetous. If you want fancy things, you’re covetous. But…wanting the basic necessities of life? Not covetous. How can you twist the Scriptures that way? This is spin-meistering gone out of control. You ignore the covetousness of people who have multiple homes and cars…and instead heap it upon people who just want access to the basic necessities? The Pharisees did exactly that sort of thing. They strained out gnats and swallowed camels.>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:45 am


PART 7 – For Mr. Snyder You rightly say, “Furthermore, the Bible condemns laziness and praises hard work.” I agree with you there. However, you are assuming that everyone who is poor is merely lazy. Me-thinks you need to trade places with some of these people and walk a mile in their shoes one day. It is an easy thing for me not to be lazy. Everyday of my childhood I watched my daddy go off to work to deliver mail on scorching hot summer days and in bitter, zero-degree cold, snowy, icy days. I watched him save money and pay the rent and electric and grocery bills. I was taught to be industrious. My sweet mama brought all us kids to the library – to make sure we were instilled with a love of learning. My parents monitored our progress at school. They helped us with our homework. My daddy bought us books on all sorts of interesting subjects – just to teach us to think. Have you ever followed a kid around that grew up in generational poverty? Maybe they never saw their parents go off to work – of if they did, maybe it never got them anything! Maybe they’ve been down so long, they never have seen “up”. Maybe anytime there was money, it was spent on entertainment, because that’s all that family could see – was today. Not tomorrow. Maybe they no longer connect “work” with “reward”. How can you hold a kid accountable to know – when he’s never seen it? When he was never taught it? Should you teach those kind of people to be productive? Yes…but it is going to take time – and patience! And not every poor person is lazy at all! Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your best just isn’t good enough. My brother works every bit as hard as I do. But here lies the difference…God gave me an IQ that is good enough to get into MENSA. I did nothing to get that IQ. God just gave it to me. Makes me work well with computers. Gives me natural empathy. But my brother is mentally retarded. He can barely write a short letter or count change. He tries very hard at all he does – but somehow, no matter how hard he tries – it never gets him the results other people get. Did my brother do one thing to earn his IQ? Any more than I did? You speak smugly and haughtily and proudly. You are ohhhh-sooooo-the-master-of-your-own-fate. And ohhhh-soooo-the-captain-of-your-own-destiny. But… where is God in this picture? Do you know how much in this world you have no control over? Like your IQ. Like what family you were born into. What would you do with a person like Job in the Scriptures? Would you be the 4th friend telling Job something must be wrong with him – that so much disaster and suffering have befallen him? You speak as King Nebuchadnezzar. Does God have to give you the same kind of remedial education? Before you will see that God is God and we are not? And that all that we have is from God? And that we can’t take any credit?>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:46 am


PART 9 Finally, Mister Snyder, I DON’T wish the same things upon you that you have wished for – for those of us who would vote for government programs to help the poor to be put out of the church. Your words remind me of what Jesus predicted in John 16: “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have no known the Father or Me.” When you read the Scriptures, do you go in there looking for proof-texts? To “take charge” of the Scriptures like you do of your own life? Or are you looking to know Jesus better? And to be filled with His thoughts? And to have Him “take charge” of you?>



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Amazon Creek

posted December 3, 2006 at 10:49 am


Sorry about how long that all took. But…because this sort of reasoning has been circulating around for so long, I felt it was important to respond completely. Still….I offer apologies. I also battle ADD – and sometimes, I just get so many thoughts racing around inside, that I fight a continual battle in knowing what to leave out.>



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Richard Wheeler

posted December 3, 2006 at 12:55 pm


What make me think you are a Democrat? The common good, especially during wartime, is to win the war. Why is this not addressed by you in your comments for the Democrats? The Democrats instead of joining with the Republicans to win the war are assisting the terrorists. So whose side are you on? The Democrat’s/Muslims or the Nations? The Constitution, Freedom, and the Federal Republic we all agree are the best way of governing are being destroyed by the Muslims within/without and the Democrats by resisting all methods of identifying the enemy and defeating the enemy thereby obtaining Victory are assisting the enemy. It seems that it is not to logical to speak of domestic issues until the war is won. Why is it then that you think these domestic issues are more important when the Nation that was created for freedom? This Nation is struggling to win the war against Islam and you want to side with the Democrats that are interested only in gaining political power so they can special rights to certain unethical citizens and loosing the war on Islam? I think you socalled Democrat’s response to the Republicans is not and was not in the interest of this Nation. Until Democrats come to the agreement that this Nation is more important than their Party and their need for Political Power, this Nation will not be One Nation Under God.>



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L

posted December 3, 2006 at 11:44 pm


Richard please tell us you’re joking. Either that or you’re really, really dumb.>



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Robstur

posted December 4, 2006 at 2:39 pm


Not really impressed that you were asked and accepted the invitation. By speaking for the dem. responce to the Pres. address you put yourself in their camp – maybe not the wisest decision you have made. I would like to sit down and talk with people that have differing opinions than myself – and I often do. Abortion – the leadership of NOW will never agree to eliminating 3rd trimester abortions and neither will Kenndy – Poloci or Feinstein and Company (hearafter refered to KPF&C) so what is there to talk about there. I would be willing to say that 1st tri should be available even though I do not agree with it. Hunger and the Poor. I believe that we should do more but not the gov’t. Giving money to the gov’t to handle an issue like this is a bad investment. I believe that community run not-for-profits is a better way of dealing with the situation. Every dollor that the gov’t gets from us for welfare, less than $.30 makes it to the people that need it the most. Agencies run by community groups, churches etc. could deliver more money and assistance to those in need. Oh – faith based groups – what a concept. (and it was not ‘christian’ faith based – it was just faith based) Unique idea – KPF&C did their best to make sure that didn’t happen. The people that are killed in the Iraq war – so sad. I pray for the families of our service personal that died and for the Iraqi families that have lost loved ones. But most of the Iraqi’s that have been killed have died at the hands of their own people not the US and the Allies. Oh – right…they are being killed because we are ‘there’ – NOT. They were being killed before we were there. God willing when we can surpress these extreemist so that they understand that the world is not theirs to take over by terrorism – maybe we can live in peace – somewhat. KPF&C – in my personal opinion would do anything to embarres Pres. Bush in the war on terror reqardless of how many people will die here and abroad as long as it benefits their agenda – that is sad. I wish moderate Muslims would understand that fundamentalist, evangelical Christians are not their enemy – but radical fundimentalists Muslims are. So Jim – where are we going to meet? Who will be at the table and what are we going to discuss? Not sure what the desired outcome will be…but just so you know if Nancy P. is there…I will be just as immovable as she has been on a number of issues. Teddy is there – we will be at a stale-mate on several issues because he is not interested in becoming ‘purple’ on anything that I can think of. (I will not allow him to drive anyone home either) So again I ask with the leadership on Capital Hill starting in 07 – what are we going to be ‘purple’ on? Now that you have been a spokesman for the Dem Party (you became one when you accepted the invite – conservatives what been ‘dissed’ for doing far less than that) you are looking a little blue to me. Take a deep breath and make your next decision wisely.>



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bob

posted December 5, 2006 at 5:09 am


Reid couldn’t find a qualified Democrat? Who will he ask next week? Rick Warren to encourage Purpose Driven Democrats & assail egocentric leadership?>



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Aaron

posted December 5, 2006 at 12:59 pm


Well, we would have enacted Kerry’s sweeping proposals, including… um… Well, he’s a Democrat so it would have been totally better cause Bush just likes to torture people I liken it to the old gameshow, Let’s Make Deal, in this case we already had a box of shit, I think whatever was behind door number 2 was probably much better.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 3:34 pm


Aaron, What I love is that Democrats in congress are continuing to make this very argument themselves. They keep saying the Bush administration has ruined everything, and they could probably do better. Um, you won the elections. The time is now to unleash your brilliant idea on the world. Of course, they’d like it if this war could hang around until 2008, wouldn’t they?>



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MP LeRoy

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:22 pm


Reminds me of the Gospel, Jim. Jesus, always loving and healing poor and suffering people AND Jesus criticized for dining with sinners, calling tax-collectors, interacting with Roman centurions, Samaritans etc. — anyone who would listen and might believe. Thanks for presenting yourself clearly. I am sure that if the republicans were to invite you to give this message you would accept also. We MUST get beyond the paralysis of polarization to dialogue toward the common good. Thank you for this effort and your personal courage to take a big risk.>



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Mark

posted December 5, 2006 at 5:42 pm


I note that your comments include a call for “a common ground effort to dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America”. This type of position is a moral compromise. Abortion is the killing of an unborn human baby. It is either wrong for that reason or it is not. As such, nothing short of the reversal of Roe v. Wade and an end to “therapeutic” abortions in America is morally acceptable. Approaches that address teen pregnancy, poverty, child care, poor moral decision making (such as abstinence based sex education) and the like are all important initiatives. However, such efforts alone are not morally sufficient. Abortion is morally wrong because it is murder. A just and ordered society, cannot exist without the illegalization of murder.>



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Robstur

posted December 5, 2006 at 7:07 pm


OK my blue friends – put this in your pipe and smoke it to quote an old TV show. OK – let’s come together to reduce the number of abortions in the US. I am pro-life and willing to look at the whole pregnancy issue. One item that I would propose is that we stop underwriting illegitimacy in this country. I believe that abortions would go down if the people involved knew that there would be no extra money should she become pregnant. One time is a ‘mistake’ twice is the start of a habit. I have three children. I was thinking about two would be nice but got one more by the goalie. My employer did not come to me and congratulate me on the third child and increase my pay accordingly. I will pay for one – the second one, they will need to find a way to make the money go for two. Yes – my blue friends…they are making babies to make money and you can talk to most health care workers and you will hear the same story. So Blue People – want to become a little purple on this one? (my wife worked in the health care field – the stories that she has heard on this topic from people that deal with it everyday would curl your teeth) And now the blue people go nuts at my insensitivity – same to you.>



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Richard Clark

posted December 6, 2006 at 3:57 am


Abortion should not be re-criminilized. American women should have the same rights in this regard as women in Scandinavia.>



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s holmgren

posted December 6, 2006 at 5:39 am


Amazon Creek Thank you for your intelligent, thorough and Biblically supported response to Dr. Snyder. You may have ADD, I have a short attention span when it comes to twisted travels through the Bible such as his.It always ends up pretty much the same — let me keep my stuff and my own ideas, even though Christ admonishes us to shed our baggage, both material and intellectual. His type of argument against taxation that goes to help the poor always gives me a headache. First, he says it should be the individual, not the government, doing what he can to help the poor. But then the argument changes and he says the poor really don’t deserve help because they’re lazy, their situation is their own fault. Maybe it’s that kind of “reasoning” that resulted in very little being done to help others by well-off Christians over the last two thousand years.It is that inaction that resulted in the government getting into it.>



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Robstur

posted December 6, 2006 at 7:03 pm


Richard Clark – I am not suggesting that abortion should be ‘re-criminalized’. I am just saying lets go back to the origional RvW inturperatation and that 3rd trimester abortions are not part of that inturperatation. We live by the laws of this country not those of Scandinavia. This is to me becoming ‘purple’ – coming to the middle of the issue. Both winning and both loosing. I take it by your response that you will not be able to do that today or anyday in the future. This is why I believe that purple on any issue of substance is almost impossible. You have taken the ground on this issue and are not willing to give up any. Have a great day>



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Kevin

posted December 7, 2006 at 3:13 pm


So much for non-partisanship. Respectfully, Mr. Wallis, I think this is a big mistake. I agree with your assessment that Republicans have got it wrong. But Democrats don’t have it much better. Prophetic politics is best pursued apart from political parties, not allying oneself with one. But again, I say this out of respect. I may disagree with your decision, but I pray that God may use this how He sees fit.>



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Nuke Shim

posted December 7, 2006 at 9:22 pm


I do believe you are partisan and therefore not honest in your disclaimer. As a Canadian Christian watching you on the news I see your opposition to everything Bush and the Republican Party stand for and as pro-Democratic party. Also, I see you as not only being used by the Democrats (obvious) but as part of them and what they stand for.>



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K.W. Leslie

posted December 7, 2006 at 11:01 pm


Mr. Wallis, I’m going to trust that you’re sincere when you say you work hard to maintain your independence and non-partisanship. But choosing to use the Democrats’ pulpit, regardless of the good you can do with what you intend to say, throws that away. It makes no difference that you’re trying to be nonpartisan. One of the parties (admittedly, my party) is handing you the microphone, and the other party isn’t, and now likely won’t. That puts you on a side, whether you like it or not. Republicans will perceive you to be on the Democrats’ side, and won’t listen to you so much (if they ever did). Democrats will perceive you to be on our side, and will invite you to our events in order to pander to Christians. (Even if we are truly sympathetic to Christian issues, we still won’t miss the opportunity to point this out in exchange for votes) This is entirely what we’re doing with this radio address. I can’t believe you don’t recognize this; I can only conclude that you believe this opportunity to speak on the Democrats’ dime is worth the political fallout. I would never make such an assumption. The only way I could justify it is if I were to spend the whole time rebuking the Democrats; we’ll be listening, and we need it. The Republicans, however, will pre-emptively presume you’re one of us, and dismiss you for that reason. I suppose we’ll just see what happens.>



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Richard Clark

posted December 8, 2006 at 4:16 pm


Robstar, So you believe American women should not have the same rights as Scandinavian women in regards to abortion? I believe that the abortion issue should be removed from politics and the whims of male politicos who have no right to limit abortion, until they themselves can become pregnant. We can reduce abortion in this country by more education, availability of contraception, more assistance for single mothers, child-care on college campuses, and even stressing the importance of a monogamus relationship. Wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade (the most progressive Supreme Court ruling since Brown vs. Board of Education) should be resisted by any means necessary. Richard Clark>



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Andy Alexis-BAker

posted December 10, 2006 at 11:32 am


Left-Constantinianism Mr. Wallis, if you have time to read this, which I am sure you don’t cause you are reading the latest pronouncement in D.C. instead of the ground floor of Christianity…go back to your roots in Sojourners, when Sojourners was radical enough to print William Stringfellows letter to Jimmy Carter on why he [stringfellow] would not vote in the latest all important election. Or when you printed John Howard Yoder’s analysis of the electoral process as a weak form of political action with all sorts of anti-Christian myths surrounding it per se. Yet Yoder is gone, and so is Srringfellow, two men who kept Sojourners honest. Now it is pure smoke and mirrors.>



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pogo

posted July 7, 2011 at 8:34 am


Hey admin, I like the site is very nice. We wish to remain so for a long time



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