Monday, December 13, 2010

Jim Wallis Toasts the Right: Here’s Wood in Your Eye

The greatest Storyteller of all time once wove a tale about a guy with a big ol’ giant log in his eye. Imagine – an enormous 2×4, just sticking out of his eye socket. But this vision-challenged gentleman wasn’t concerned with the gigantic wooden plank blinding him – he was concerned about the little speck in his neighbor’s eye, instead.

This bring us to Jim Wallis, a Religious Left spokesman, who’s very concerned with everyone else being deceitful and uncivil during this election season. His Sojourners organization website includes a blog called God’s politics where he recently took politicians (of all persuasions – sort of) to task for their lack of truth and civility in this, “the most poisonous election campaign in recent memory.” (Apparently he has a pretty short memory.)

In his article about campaign “abuses of faith,” he first railed against the Aqua Buddha ad. Personally, I can’t get too excited about Jack Conway’s so-called “attack on religion,” as I find the whole thing bordering on comical. But starting with that example did allow Wallis to paint his thesis with a (very) thin veneer of nonpartisanship.

Alas, that veneer cracks pretty quickly. His “egregious” example from the other side consists of Christine O’Donnell “attacking” her Senate opponent Chris Coons: “I would argue there are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist beliefs.”

If you’re scratching your head wondering how that’s an attack, much less an “abuse of faith,” you’re not alone.
That’s his best example of abusing a religious faith in order to influence voters? O’Donnell mentioning that she’s Catholic, while noting that the other candidate espouses some fairly radical political viewpoints?

Wallis goes on to preach how, if we would only embrace deep religious teachings of the common good, this could guide us into social justice on issues of poverty, war, immigration, and the environment. Yet he steadfastly refuses to see the entirety of Scriptural teaching – and how very individually-oriented Jesus’ message was. There are none so blind as those with a giant plank in their eye.

That plank he’s sporting allows him to conveniently overlook a few glaring examples that would have truly illustrated an abuse of faith for political ends. You know, the kind of crass hypocrisy in which our politician-in-chief attempts to use the Bible to justify some collectivist cause like nationalized healthcare, as he did while visiting USC on Friday – all the while blowing off the Bible’s clear focus on individual responsibility for behavior and choices. But what can we expect from said politician when he defines the Biblical concept of sin as “being out of alignment with my values”?

Of course, Wallis himself knows quite a bit about “abuse of faith.” First, he’s an advisor to the aforementioned politician-in-chief, and was instrumental in attempting to spin the whole Jeremiah Wright controversy away from the then-candidate.

What’s more, Wallis has kneaded and manipulated Biblical truth to conform to his own political views, instead of allowing the truth of Scripture to knead and manipulate him. Witness his take on the Bible and Israel:
The completely one-sided support for Israel from some conservative evangelicals rests on two things: one, a very dubious interpretation (I’m being generous here) of biblical prophecy and eschatology (the theology of the “end times”) in which the modern state of Israel is still equated with the Old Testament notion of “God’s chosen people;” and two, a complete denial of the very existence of Palestinian Christians.
He goes on to describe a group of “evangelicals,” among whom he numbers himself, who are advocating “creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank.” This is the worst kind of abuse of faith – using one’s supposed religious credentials to push for a policy that would likely result in the annihilation of an entire people.

Speaking of hypocrisy – Wallis, as it has been widely reported, accepted money for Sojourners from George Soros. But he lied about that at first, and then said that a Christian journalist who reported the connection “lied for a living. Sadly, this tends to invalidate his credentials to bemoan the loss of “values important to faith” like civility and truth. As the great Storyteller concluded, this man needs to yank that thing out of his own eye, first.

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