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Jim Wallis' Trip To "freedom Of Faith"


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Before, I begin this discussion let me clearify that I post this thread for Progressive Christians ONLY, I am not asking, requesting for any Non-Progressive input on this...

 

Jim Wallis' site sent this to me via e-mail...

 

 

An attempt to hijack Christianity

by Jim Wallis

 

Last week, I wrote about the "Justice Sunday" event held at a Louisville, Kentucky, mega-church. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson, and Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler were joined by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on video in the event titled "Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith." Of course, I have no objection to Christian leaders expressing their faith in the public arena - it's a good thing that I do all the time. The question is not whether to do so, but how. As I heard more and more about "Justice Sunday," it felt to me like it was crossing an important line - saying that a political issue was a test of faith.

 

 

So, when I was invited to speak at an interfaith "Freedom and Faith" service at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, I agreed. On Sunday morning, I flew to Louisville, and that afternoon addressed more than 1,000 people who attended the rally. I didn't go to say that these leaders shouldn't bring their faith into politics; the issues concerning them - abortion and family values - are also important to me. But the way they were doing it was wrong. The clear implication of their message was that those who opposed them are not people of faith.

 

 

We can get some historical perspective by looking at how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did it - and he was the church leader who did it best. Once after he was arrested, he wrote a very famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," addressed to the white clergy who were opposing him on the issues of racial segregation and violence against black people. Never once did he say that they were not people of faith. He appealed to their faith, challenged their faith, asked them to go deeper with their faith, but he never said they were not real Christians. If Dr. King refused to attack the integrity and faith of his opponents over such a clear gospel issue, how can the Religious Right do it over presidential nominees and a Senate procedural issue known as the filibuster?

 

 

After the "Justice Sunday" event, and the controversy surrounding it, some of the sponsors are denying they ever claimed that those who oppose them are hostile to people of faith. Yet their words stand for themselves. In the letter announcing the event on the Family Research Council Web site, Tony Perkins wrote: "Many of these nominees to the all-important appellate court level are being blocked...because they are people of faith and moral convictions.... We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith."

 

 

So, I told the Louisville rally that when someone has stolen our faith in the public arena, it is time to take our faith back. "Justice Sunday" was an attempt to hijack Christianity for a partisan and ideological agenda. Those on the Religious Right are declaring a religious war to give their version of faith religious supremacy in America. And some members of the Republican Party seem ready almost to declare a Christian theocracy in America. It is time to take back both our faith and our Constitution.

 

Ok..now here's the part that interests me:

 

"It is now clear there are some who will fight this religious war by any means necessary. So we will fight, but not the way they do."

 

This is why i am leary of mixi8ng my Progressive christian beliefs WITH poltics..i don;t want to simply become the left's flip side answer to the right.

 

"We must never lie or misrepresent the facts or the truth. We must not demonize or vilify those who are our opponents."

 

But we do not have to. They do this themselves.

 

"We must claim that those who disagree with our judgments are still real people of faith"

 

I acknowledge that they ARE people of faith. But I personally have no desire to embrace their terms or titled or endevor to be accpeted as "Orthodox" by them.

 

"We must not fight the way they do, but fight we must. A great deal is at stake in this battle for the heart and soul of faith in America and for the nation's future itself. We will not allow faith to be put into the service of one political agenda. "

 

That's why i say we should be careful not to become the flip side to the right.

 

 

This is a call for the rest of the churches to wake up. This is a call for people of faith everywhere to stand up and let their faith be heard. This is not a call to be just concerned, or just a little worried, or even just alarmed. This is a call for clear speech and courageous action. This is a call to take back our faith, and in the words of the prophet Micah, "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God."

 

They (the far right) have never taken 'OUR faith." Rather they have simply popularized 'their' version of it and stamped the word, "Orthodox" on it. But what was it that this Presbyterian church did that Jim wallis found disturbing? Do you know?

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I don't know what happened at that Church. I might be able to find out. I will see.

 

I do know that it cannot be a very conservative church. There are several groups within the PC(USA) that are called affinity groups. On the conservative side, the most important one is the Confessing Church Movement. On the liberal side is the Witherspoon Society and specificaly supporting ordination of GLBT persons there is the Covenant Network and More Light Presbyterians. CN seems to work more for institutional change while MLP seems to work more for getting individual congregations to be welcoming. MLP is thought by most to be more extreme. Nearly all member congregations of MLP are also members of CN, but not the other way around.

 

Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville is a member congregation of MLP but not of CN. I don't know what their view on abortion is, but they support ordination of GLBT persons.

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I have re-read Jim Wallis's article, and I think that the people, the clear implication of whose message he refers to in the second paragraph, were the leaders at the "Justice Sunday" event and not the participants at the "Freedom and Faith" event.

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I have re-read Jim Wallis's article, and I think that the people, the clear implication of whose message he refers to in the second paragraph, were the leaders at the "Justice Sunday" event and not the participants at the "Freedom and Faith" event.

 

Ok, let me examine it again,

 

"An attempt to hijack Christianity

by Jim Wallis

 

Last week, I wrote about the "Justice Sunday" event held at a Louisville, Kentucky, mega-church. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson, and Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler were joined by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on video in the event titled "Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith." Of course, I have no objection to Christian leaders expressing their faith in the public arena - it's a good thing that I do all the time. The question is not whether to do so, but how. As I heard more and more about "Justice Sunday," it felt to me like it was crossing an important line - saying that a political issue was a test of faith.

 

 

So, when I was invited to speak at an interfaith "Freedom and Faith" service at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, I agreed. On Sunday morning, I flew to Louisville, and that afternoon addressed more than 1,000 people who attended the rally. I didn't go to say that these leaders shouldn't bring their faith into politics; the issues concerning them - abortion and family values - are also important to me. But the way they were doing it was wrong. The clear implication of their message was that those who opposed them are not people of faith.

 

 

Ok...I think you are right. If this is so, that Jim Wallis wen to this so-called Justice Sunday and he was not pleased with what he encountered then to be frank...how foolish of him to KNOW before hand that, " James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler," were all going to be there, if not RAN the whole thing that this would turn into a fundie festivals to proclaim themselves "Orthodox" and everyone else NOT.

 

I mean, come on, anytime one is invited to a so-called, "Inner-faith" event...whether it claims to be about women or the environment....'or whatever...if' it tells you before hand that those putting on the vent or sponsoring it are SOUTHERN Baptist..then you KNOW it will simply be a TRICK to try and fool Progressive and moderate Christians into their southern fried far right wing exclusive version of Protestantism. They KNOW the have established a bad image in the media for being sexist and homophobic and for being anti-eco friendly...so to try and improve their image and thus attempt to 'look' more tolerant and mainstream they do these little events from time to time to pretend like they are eco-friendly or not bigots. Some moderate and Progressive Christians actually fall for this and they go to these events actually thinking that these far right extremists Protestnats will magically announce that they realize they were wrong and want to turn Progressive.

 

Instead what happens, is the Progressives go to these events only to have the far right Protestants like SBC put on a show and try word things are certain way to try and merely try and pitch their same-old same old old time bigotries instead packaged in new "seeker-Senstive" words. The Progressives go away diguisted, the fundies go away disapointed that the healthen liberals did not accpet "The Real" Christ..but they hope some might have been inspired to turn from the left to join them on the right

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I'm quite sure that Jim Wallis knew ahead of time that this was a conservative group. I think he wanted to make his own views known. I think it was all pretty shameful to use the religion card in this way (I mean as some fundies have, to say that the Congress is voting against people of faith). At least GWB, I will give him some credit here, distanced himself a bit from these comments. However, he does try to play it both ways a bit so he doesn't anger "his base" too much. BTW, this isn't so much GWB as a Roth decision, imo.)

 

Anyway it is good for Jim Wallis to stand up and say that other "people of faith" might have different feelings. I also feel it is a non-faith issue.

 

--des

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Well, Christ did say, "You can not serve to masters because you'll be end up loving the one and hating the other." It seems to me that Jim wants to be accepted by the far religious right because they have some how aquired the copy rights to the term "Orthodox" and "Evangelical". Do you think that Jim may be doing the same thing as the the far right but in reverse? That is, that he goes to these fundie events, embracing the term "Evangelical" Christians, aspires to blend in as one of them..and hopes he can win them over to the more liberal left? If so, indeed in not trying to do the same thing that the far right tries to do to us but in reverse?

 

For myself, I don't desire to to this..that is..try and blend in with the far religious right...in hopes that I can win the right over to the left with us. Now, if someone ALREADY shows signs that they WANT to become more moderate minded/progressive...well, then that IS different and then I DO WANT to inner act with them...but it is up to the individual on the right to first show that THEY DO want to become more Progressive.

 

Infact...I only will go on sites forums and partipate that cleary indentifies itself as moderate or Progressive. I am greatly interested in visiting forums that are Liberal Catholic or Pro-Progressive reformed forums for people coming from CS, JW, LDS, SBC...ect backgrounds....but as long as all of these state clearly that they ARE ALREADY pro-moderate or Progressive...if they do not state this or state they are the opposite...then I have no desire to visit their sites or forums.

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Beach,

 

I don't think that Mr. Wallis is "doing the same thing." I don't think that he is trying to infiltrate the conservative ranks by subterfuge, but then I don't think that the conservatives are doing that to the liberal ranks either. I think that he is doing the following

 

1. He is reclaiming the term evangelical which has be coopted by people whose real goals are politically conservative. There are people who are filled with the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, who are politically liberal. The conservatives have represented that these liberals cannot be real Christians for reasons that have very little to do with the tenets of Christianity. I feel that it is important that the general population and our elected officials know that not all Christians support the conservative agenda.

 

2. He is supporting continued dialogue between diverse factions. Insulated from disenting views, groups have a tendency to become too extreme. We could allow those groups whose views are radically different from ours to become more extreme, and then try to keep their extreme views from affecting us. In doing this we are saying that those people are unimportant, and we must expect that those people are saying the same thing about us. Alternatively, we could continue dialogue, and, while not enforce uniformity of opinion, at least foster a mutual respect. I may not respect the views that extreme conservatives have, but I should respect them as human beings.

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"Beach,I don't think that Mr. Wallis is "doing the same thing." I don't think that he is trying to infiltrate the conservative ranks by subterfuge, but then I don't think that the conservatives are doing that to the liberal ranks either. I think that he is doing the followin."

 

It seems that way to me and I positively think this is what the conservatives are doing. I have gone to such events thrown by the religious right when they try and make themselves appear to blend in with liberals only to try and sweet-talk us into changing to the right instead, and I am just saying that because I don;t like this...i would not try and do this in return to the far right

 

"1. He is reclaiming the term evangelical which has be coopted by people whose real goals are politically conservative. There are people who are filled with the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, who are politically liberal. The conservatives have represented that these liberals cannot be real Christians for reasons that have very little to do with the tenets of Christianity. I feel that it is important that the general population and our elected officials know that not all Christians support the conservative agenda."

 

Don;t you think it would be more productive to simply show to the public how there CAN and IS a different 'type' of Christianity that is not intolerant rather than focusing on trying to simply reclaim these title "Evangelical"? The name "Evangelical" has already became sullied by the right's rights actions and their cliam to own the copy rights to this word...and such..why would non-far right winged Christians want it?

 

"He is supporting continued dialogue between diverse factions. Insulated from disenting views, groups have a tendency to become too extreme."

 

If we..would good with this do? Jones and Falwell would insult all us Progressives as Unsaved 'Cults', we'd get offended and say they are intolerant..and both parties leave annoyed. Whay good can come from this?

 

"We could allow those groups whose views are radically different from ours to become more extreme, "

 

We can not stop this. if we were to try and controll their behavior, no matter how hideous we think it is, then this is like them trying to controll society.

 

"and then try to keep their extreme views from affecting us."

 

The only way you can do this is don't go around them. if you go around them, they will insult you.

 

"In doing this we are saying that those people are unimportant, and we must expect that those people are saying the same thing about us."

 

I would not define them as "unimportant." I would term them as harmful to social justice and they would say we are harmful to Christianity.

 

"Alternatively, we could continue dialogue, and, while not enforce uniformity of opinion, at least foster a mutual respect."

 

But history proves they THEY will FORCE their views on us..and this will end up in them being disrespectful.

 

"I may not respect the views that extreme conservatives have, but I should respect them as human beings."

 

Can't you respect them as human beings without going to their conversaion events?

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I respect Jim Wallis as sincere and that he is doing what his own faith guides him to do. For myself, I wouldn't worry about terms like "evangelism"-- trying to take them back. But taking back (or at least being able to share the term "Christianity" seems important).

 

From what he says I would say that Jim Wallis might not be so progressive in theological terms. I think on social (or most social issues) he is (esp. poverty, ecology, etc.).

So for him "taking back" the word "evangelism" might be more important than it is to you or I.

 

BTW, I don't think he is using subterfuge. They all know who he is. If nothing else these fundies "know their enemies" (or perceived ones anyway). I think he is trying to interject

a different message into the discussion, which I think he did.

 

I agree that the conversation between progressives and conservatives isn't going to really happen except on the micro level (like it does sometimes on this board). However, stranger things have happened. Lately the conservative Christians are tinkled pink about the new pope. I mean it wasn't that long ago that they were talking about 'romans this and that'

and saying that Catholism was a cult. You just never know.

 

--des

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I have no doubts that in many ways Jim Wallis is far more educated than me, especially on political matters..but I have observed many friends trying to do what Jim is..and after a while they get exasperated with trying to reason with fundamentalists as they come to realize that it is like talking to a brick wall.

 

"Lately the conservative Christians are tinkled pink about the new pope. I mean it wasn't that long ago that they were talking about 'romans this and that'

and saying that Catholism was a cult. You just never know."

 

That because the Far right Protestants see him as useful to their conservative causes..but as soon as they don;t find him useful anymore they'll go back to calling the Catholics a 'cult' again. It kinda reminds me how this one person who used to be JW explains that JW's use the UN to their benifit and then turn around and claim the UN is Satan's organization. :rolleyes: Jw's often use and quote from Catholic encyclopedias..but then they turn around and paint pictures in their books of Catholic priests next to the Beast of revelations. I think all these fundamental faith groups will use each other's resorces to further than own causes and then when the finish they go back to calling each other heathens again. :blink:

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