Jim Wallis certainly has a right to express his opinion and hold his own spiritual convictions, but as is often the case with one who makes an effort to analyse other people who he or she does not begin to understand, Mr. Wallis has failed to capture the true feeling behind what he identifies as the "Religious Right." Mr. Wallis clearly does not identify with the "Religious Right" and therefore his analysis of them, or those who have more of an affinity with them, as opposed to the "Religious Left," is sorely lacking.
Mr. Wallis feels that the "Religious Right" has "stolen" the Christian faith. Is it possible for the Christian faith to be "stolen" by people who collectively talk about their convictions, whether you agree with their convictions or not? Mr. Wallis concedes that one's personal faith cannot be stolen but evidently he believes that a collective Christian faith can be stolen by people who speak collectively about their convictions. I disagree. Certainly Christian leaders Mr. Wallis would identify as "religious right-wingers" have stepped up to lobby the government over those trends which they feel are against their particular interpretation of scripture, in the hopes of bringing legislation more in line with a traditionalist view of Christianity.
On October 13 - 15, Values, Vision and the Via Media launched a Progressive Christian meetup called "A Path to Action National Conference" at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. Jim Wallis was a scheduled speaker. The estimates on attendance have been around two hundred people, including the speakers and organizers. Is there a difference in lobbying the government for a liberal standard to be applied to legislation and lobbying the government for a conservative or traditional standard? Doesn't this smack of hypocrisy? I don't like your conservative view of Christianity and don't like you lobbying Congress, feel that you have "stolen" our faith, so I'm going to do the same and "steal" it back? At a time when Christians could be uniting and meeting important issues together, as a unified Body of Christ, instead, we get more division, and all the while we get it while progressives are accusing the right of doing that which they now feel is right and proper? I suppose if you are a progressive it is different somehow.
In order to agree with Mr. Wallis' hypothesis regarding the Religious Right in America, we must first agree that the Religious Right is pro-rich, pro-war and pro-American. Well, I don't believe that is the case. I believe that politically conservative Christians in America support a capitalistic free market society rather than a socialistic one, yes. I believe that politically conservative Christians in America believe there is such a thing as a justifiable war, yes, and as American citizens I would concur with Mr. Wallis that most conservative American Christians feel loyalty and patriotism for their conuntry. Contrary to Mr. Wallis' fairy tale world, that is the historical legacy of Christianity in the United States of America.
Mr. Wallis claims that the Religious Right doesn't speak "for most of us," I suppose that depends upon which "us" to whom Mr. Wallis is referring. Perhaps the two hundred in attendance at the Path for Action National Conference? He cries for an "authentic social witness," as though politically conservative Christians are not "authentically" witnessing to the poor when they volunteer their time and give their money, personally. According to the "us" Mr. Wallis refers to, one can only assume that it is their belief that the United States of America should step in and provide MORE funding for the poor on the global and National stage. The Nation, to which Mr. Wallis feels Christians in America should hold no particular allegiance, is expected to do MORE because its founding was of a Christian nature? I get the impression that until Americans agree to spend 100% of all their tax dollars on humanitarian causes the Religious Left will remain unsatisfied.
It appears that this newly labeled "Progressive" Christianity is all about aiding the poor through a more socialized governmental system. All about becoming more tolerant of lifestyles which the Bible clearly identifies as sinful. All about socializing healthcare so that it is available for all American citizens, rich and poor alike. The newly labeled "Progressive" Christians seem totally unconcerned about the quality of that healthcare's deterioration should Americans accept its socialization and totally unconcerned about the health of our Nation's children, both mentally and physically, when homosexuality becomes a normal lifestyle, no different from heterosexual relationships or marriage.
While there is certainly nothing harmful in the warm and fuzzy Christian ideal of helping the poor, the Religious Right do this as a form of obedience to God, the Father, in their everyday lives. They give their tithes and offerings, they serve in food pantries across the country, they volunteer with Church groups and humanitarian aid organizations such as The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, Samaritan's Purse, Crossroads, and far too many other organizations to begin to list here. Perhaps, because conservative Christians fail to toot their own horns about all of the monetary and personal aid they provide, keeping, instead, the right hand from knowing what the left hand is doing, Mr. Wallis and others are under the belief that the tithes and offerings taken up at churches and the hands on volunteerism provided by those on the Right just doesn't exist. It exists, Mr. Wallis, and our rewards will be in Heaven, not here on Earth in an effort to impress political pundits on the Left.
Yes, Mr. Wallis, the Religious Right are concerned about sexual and cultural issues in America, what you don't seem to understand is that they are just as concerned about the poor, they just don't agree that turning America into a Socialist country is the answer to meeting the needs of those poor.
Mr. Wallis makes some extreme charges against "religious right-wingers," claiming that they collectively either don't care about issues such as pedophile priests and that they follow blindly all words spoken by televangelists. Neither of these is the truth, but there appears to be a mounting effort on the part of the Religious Left to attack the Religious Right with extreme posturing. Besides, I didn't think Mr. Wallis approved of the "focus" the Religious Right was taking on sexual issues? Now he seems to suggest that they don't focus enough on it. Make up your mind, Mr. Wallis.
There is nothing wrong, and everything right, about a Christian who has a heart to help the poor, that is, after all, the way true religion is defined in James 1:27, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." It is the method of helping the poor where the argument among Progressive and Conservative, Left-wing and Right-wing, Christians lie. American Christians with a traditionalist viewpoint prefer to see the aid administered by Christians as an extention of their personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. American Christians with a traditional viewpoint realize that taking care of the poor and needy among is and abroad is not the solitary calling of our government. We understand that the most important aspect of our government is to protect its citizens and keep them free so that they can continue in their individual efforts to aid the poor in the future.
Mr. Wallis' efforts to paint all those "religious right-wingers" as pro-rich and pro-war is a transparent, liberal, partisan attack against conservatives and, as such, I predict that his brand of politics will get no attention except from his own politically partisan religious choir. So, while the Left continues to focus their attention on everything they perceive the Right is doing wrong in an effort to smear them, the Right will continue to do the right thing, silently waiting for their rewards in another realm, fighting for the traditionalist convictions of the American Christian.