President-elect Obama ardently sought the Evangelical and “born again” vote. This pre-election investigation by “American Vision” examines his posturing inside Evangelical communities and the Protestant leaders who brought him in. An excellent case-study of how the political Left is making common cause with secularised “Christians” to further the Liberal agenda, it confirms the insidious power of materialistic “spirituality” which now substitutes for supernatural religion everywhere (including swathes of the Catholic Church, as the disgraceful 54% Catholic vote for Mr Obama reveals). Title ours, footnotes omitted. (Allowance must be made for its sola scriptura perspective, of course, which ultimately legitimises each and every perverse interpretation of Scripture.)
The Gospel According to Barack
On August 16, 2008, Pastor Rick Warren hosted sequential cross examinations of Barack Obama and John McCain. He asked hardball questions that are of major interest to members of Protestant evangelical churches. He forced them to talk straight about the evangelicals’ agenda. This is as it should be: bi-partisan cross examination. They came to his party; he did not come to theirs.
This is completely different from ideological allies of either Obama or McCain coming into local congregations and promoting their candidate’s agenda in the name of the Bible, when in fact the Bible teaches the opposite of what their candidate says he stands for.
Yet this is happening today. To perceive what is going on, evangelicals had better beaware of three things: (1) what the Bible says regarding some crucial issues; (2) what the candidates are saying on these issues; (3) who these candidates’ allies are inside the churches, and how they are misusing the Bible to promote their candidates’ positions.
I begin with Barack Obama. His allies are more forthright, and they have maintained their positions for years. It is not so much that they are outright promoters of Barack Obama. It is that they have long been promoters of ideas that he espouses, and he just happened to win the nomination this year. Whether he wins or loses, his allies will continue to promote these ideas in the churches. That is why evangelicals need to understand who the allies are, and what they are promoting in the name of the Bible.
When liberal commentator "Rev." Barry Lynn heard that Obama accepted Warren’s interview, he lamented it as a "big mistake" and said, "Barack Obama should not have agreed to do this." Why? What do religious leftists like Lynn fear that Obama might say? We can’t be sure, but from what he already has said we get a pretty dark picture. What follows is a report of how liberal religious leaders have promoted and continue to promote their agenda in the name of the Bible.
The Audacity of Deceit
Baptizing the leftist political agenda in Christian language is nothing new. For theological liberals it has been the norm for a century, ever since the liberal philanthropist John D. Rockefeller began financing the "Social Gospel" movement in the 1890s. Rockefeller was enamoured of the liberal preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick; he made him a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and also hired his brother Raymond who subsequently ran the Foundation for forty years. In return for Fosdick’s services Rockefeller funded the construction of the famous Riverside Church in New York which has since been described as "a stronghold of activism and political debate throughout its 75-year history."
Continuing the wedding of liberal politics with a Christian façade, the latest minister of Riverside Church, Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, was invited to address the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Hardly a Forbes talk goes by in which radically liberal politics is not wrapped up in the swaddling clothes of twisted Bible passages. While speaking at an Awards ceremony for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Forbes called the Bible "homophobic" and said that "the institution of marriage is in danger of losing heaven’s endorsement" if the United States does not affirm and sanction gay marriage. Continuing the tradition of leftist politics, Forbes calls for every measure of government welfare under the guise of "Human Rights" and appeals to the Bible’s concern for poor to support government taxation. When U.S. political policies do not line up with his agenda, he accuses us of national hypocrisy. Reading the well-known passage from Matthew 7 - "Judge not..." - Forbes adds, "Sounds like that is addressed to the United States of America."
Everyone has heard about Obama’s mentor and pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, who ended his pro-black-power racist preaching career with the cry "God damn America." The media furor that followed has since waned, but in the midst of Obama’s scrambling for damage-control his admiring church leaders did not flinch. Forbes himself defended him. "Some of us wish we had the nerve that Jeremiah had.... We praise God that he’s saying it, so the rest of us don’t have to." To nearly everyone who is not defending a radical agenda, Wright crossed a line so far as to warrant some kind of church and perhaps even civil discipline, but again the leftist church leaders spin: "I think if a person is a prophet and he’s not seen as ever crossing a line, then he has not told the truth as it ought to be told." In this precarious logic, does the end justify the means? If a man is a prophet then a line must be crossed somewhere. Granted, Biblical prophets often did buck popular trends, but this does not mean that everyone who causes public unrest represents the voice of God. If Forbes’ line-crossing logic applies to Jeremiah Wright, then Osama bin Laden is the greatest prophet of our time.
So here is exactly the deceit of the social Gospel: the end is always to advance the liberal political and social agenda no matter what package it comes in. In whatever ways Scripture, tradition, and reason must be mangled and wrested to fit this agenda, the liberal leaders, theologians, seminaries and preachers stand ready with whatever colour wrapping paper and bow the season calls for. For them, it is not God’s Word that matters, but the leftist agenda. To them, however, God’s Word is useful for giving the appearance of God’s approval for the leftist agenda.
The Hope of Evangelical Audacity
It is old news, however, that leftist politics is the core message of the liberal churches. A somewhat more recent and more frightful development was the wedding by some evangelicals of liberal politics with Biblical language. Beginning in 1977 with the publication of Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, the liberal politics of guilt-manipulation began sweeping through evangelical churches, seminaries and especially colleges.
While Sider’s rhetoric, originally verging on marxism, has changed considerably over the years (after reams of criticism), his core belief that government must redistribute wealth and provide welfare remains central to his continued publications. Worse yet, he has several popular and quasi-evangelical clones including Bill Clinton’s former spiritual counselor Tony Campolo, and the editor of the liberal magazine Sojourners, Jim Wallis.
The subtitle of Wallis’ New York Times Bestseller God’s Politics, provides some insight into Wallis’ agenda: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. Do you catch the subtle innuendo? Reading the book will make it clear. While Wallis makes the point of saying that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat - appealing language to the non-denominationally minded - his conclusions always end up sounding decidedly leftist, especially on economic issues. Wallis’ prejudice is clear: the Right is wrong when it speaks of religion, but Leftists (so far) have only been asleep to the possibility of leveraging religion. In other words, the Left needs only to wake up to the opportunity of hijacking religious language for the furthering of its goals. Wallis is not at all shy in fusing his leftist politics with religion: "Democrats must get religion on the budget," he writes. This is Obama’s agenda, too. He says, "[I]f we don’t reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, then the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and Alan Keyeses will continue to hold sway."
It is clear that there exists a growing trend of liberal activism in the guise of evangelical language. Obama is afraid that the left will "forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice." He doesn’t want religious language to speak for itself; it needs a liberal "progressive" interpreter. Wallis is on the job, and your church is his target. Once again, this is the deceit of the social Gospel, only it is the Social Gospel II, or the New Social Gospel. It is being repackaged as an evangelical hope, and it is just as audacious as its predecessor.
Who’s Not Been Reading Their Bible?
Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok? ... Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? ... Folks haven’t been reading their bibles. - Barack Obama"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:37–40). - Jesus (quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18)
As part of his duties as an apologist for and promoter of liberal politics in Christian robes, Jim Wallis also presides over the organization Call to Renewal which aims to influence public policy on the issue of poverty. In 2006 the organization merged with his larger operation Sojourners and was given the creative new name Call to Renewal/Sojourners. Call to Renewal has a long history of self-vaunted progress while never enjoying widespread influence. Beginning in 1995 - the height of the Clinton era - 100 religious liberalites convened around the document "The Cry for Renewal: Biblical Faith and Spiritual Politics" which, like nearly all else Wallis has done, claims to avoid partisan politics yet lays the groundwork for leftist solutions to "social justice." The "Religious Right" is pegged "a dangerous liaison of religion with political power," while liberal religious affections for the Democratic Party are softly chastised for "lacking in moral imagination and prophetic integrity." Have we heard this refrain before
Call to Renewal still sponsors projects and conventions. In June 2006, whom do you think Wallis invited to give the keynote address at their annual convention? Surely by sheer coincidence it was his friend, the Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. Eleven years since its founding document established that "Our times cry out for renewed political vision... moral values, and social responsibility," Call to Renewal 2006, boasting a "Covenant for a New America" urged, "Our times call for a new moral and political will that merges personal and social responsibility." The organ-grinder churns out the same tune as long as the donors keep paying the monkey, which is why Winston Churchill reportedly said, "Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room." It’s hard to tell which is which when Obama speaks at a Wallis convention, but on this occasion the Senator called for liberals to commandeer religious dialogue and harshly denigrated the Bible itself. He mocked:
Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bibles.
Apparently by reading our Bibles Obama thinks that we will be horrified by certain parts and then fall in line with the leftist "Biblical faith" as Wallis and other liberals spell it out. Apparently he thinks non-liberals have not read these passages, and he scoffs, "Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles."
Wallis agrees with Obama.He demands, "We don’t legislate Leviticus." He elaborates, "We haven’t been doing good Bible study. We have been ignoring the Bible.... Too many evangelical Christians are like affluent, upper-middle class suburban dwellers more than they are like those who love and cherish and follow the Bible.... Now, they think they are. They believe they are. They love the Bible. But they’re not paying attention to whole vast areas of biblical teaching..."
This may be true - and Wallis isn’t the first person to point out that many Christian don’t read their Bibles! - but note the convenient twist with which both Obama and Wallis position their criticism: it is the affluent and the conservative Christians who ignore what the Bible says. What they miss, according to Wallis, is the concern for helping the poor. This sentiment sounds noble until you realize that, in Wallis’ liberal code-speak, "concern for the poor" literally means "robbing everyone else." He spells this out in the same interview: "You can’t be evangelical and associate yourself with Jesus and what he says about the poor and just have no other domestic concerns than tax cuts for wealthy people."
It is simply slanderous to say that conservative Christians "have no other domestic concerns than tax cuts for wealthy people." Biblical thinkers call for tax cuts across the board. The only model for taxation in the Bible is the tithe, which is a flat 10% on everyone irrespective of social status. Wallis is simply upset that the wealthy are not hammered harder than everyone else. His line about evangelicals being "affluent, upper-middle class suburban dwellers" who want "tax cuts for the wealthy" shows this socialistic prejudice. He wants to tax wealthy people more heavily than others in order to fund government programs. This he calls "the primary social issue in the Bible." This he (and all of his liberal colleagues) continually refers to as "social justice."
Problem: nowhere does the Bible teach, support, favour, or allow heavier percentages of taxes on wealthier people. Graduated taxes are nowhere taught in Scripture; in fact, the Bible condemns favouring either the rich or the poor:
You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbour fairly. (Lev.19:15)
So you can see the real reason Obama mocks Leviticus. He doesn’t want you to read it, because it confirms the true Biblical principle of social justice which is that government should treat everyone equally. This directly cuts against a leftist agenda, so Wallis ignores it and Obama hides it with mockery.
In his book God’s Politics, Wallis pulls this "reading the Bible" insult again. When the state of Alabama faced a budget crisis, Governor Bob Riley caved to liberal pressures to raise taxes (though only on property and the wealthy). Wallis praises this unequal tax measure saying that Riley did it because he is "deeply Christian," proclaiming, "Here is a conservative Republican governor who has been reading his Bible and decided to put his Christian faith first." Wallis is apparently oblivious to what he himself had written just a few sentences earlier, that Riley adopted the liberal ideas not because he was deeply Christian, but because he felt he had "no other choice." Nevertheless, Wallis praises the inequality in taxation as "a breath of fresh air," approving Riley for "proposing to raise taxes on the rich, while cutting them for poor working families." He then criticizes the federal government for not taxing the rich, but rather cutting their taxes, too. When some legislators prevented liberal measures at one point, Wallis moans that they "hadn’t been reading their Bibles the way Riley had."
Wallis should have checked his words more closely for precision. If reading the Bible "the way Riley had" means imposing unequal tax burdens, then perhaps that "way" isn’t best. Perhaps the "way" some conservatives read their Bible includes reading all of it, especially the part about not favouring the rich or the poor.
This doesn’t stop the left from trying to push its agenda into Christian churches using Biblical language. Like Wallis, Obama switches to "moral" language in order to sell his plans to disproportionately rob the wealthy: "The rich in America have nothing to complain about. ... I consider the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to be both fiscally irresponsible and morally troubling." Wallis couldn’t be more proud than to add "Bible reading" mockery to such rhetoric. Obama’s wife Michele is much more clear about what they really mean: "The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and [a] revamped education system then someoneis going to have to give up a piece of their pie so someone else can have more."
Anyone should be free to hold these liberal opinions if they want to. But for Wallis to insist that they are the only true reading of the Bible is as dishonest as it is laughable.That he is not up front with unsuspecting Christians about whose agenda he is really pushing is equally devious. That he has gotten away with it for 25 years speaks of special interest like nothing else speaks of special interest.
At the end of his forty-day fast in the wilderness, Jesus, now deeper in the thralls of poverty and pangs of hunger than any description Wallis could imagine to write, was faced with the Devil himself (or herself - we wouldn’t want to ignore the advances of liberal feminist theology here). In the face of the Devil (who was quoting Scripture), and in order to relieve His own present abject poverty by using divine power from the top-down, Jesus quoted (listen close Barack) Deuteronomy three times. That was Jesus’ sole defense, and the only one He needed. "It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’"(Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3).
Every word. Every word. Jesus was asked by the liberals of his day a very similar question to that which Barack posed: which passages of Scripture are the most important. To answer them Jesus said (I paraphrase) first, "Love God with everything you have," and second, "Love your neighbour as yourself." These two passages come respectively from Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the very two books Obama objects to. These two commands, Jesus added, summarize the entire law. This is essentially saying that to understand and to fulfill these two most important commandments, we need to take seriously every word of God.
I will leave the reader to decide who actually has not been reading their Bible.
The Devil’s Politics
Using the Bible to justify forced taxation, unequal taxation, and rallying special interest politics is not God’s politics; it is, frankly, satanic. During the temptation, the Devil tempted Christ with three things (Matt. 4:1–11). The three temptations were lust (hunger), pride (immortality), and glory (great kingdoms). These were the exact same temptations that Satan used against Eve in the garden. The "fruit" of deceit was food, beauty, and godhood:
The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (Gen. 3:6).
Jesus rebutted each of the temptations with passages from Deuteronomy. Eve and Adam did not stand so faithfully, but gave in to the Devil’s "craftiness" (2 Cor. 11:3). The apostle John later informs us that the devil still has only the same three tricks in this world: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world" (1 John 2:16).
Paul warns us against the subtlety of the Devil (2 Cor. 11:3) and informs us that the Devil does not come with red horns, a pitchfork, and a musketeer goatee, but rather "as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). Do not believe everyone who wraps their political message in Bible passages (especially when they have to tear a few pages out to do so).
Looking into the religious influences of the left, a startling pattern appears. When "the wealthy" are set up as targets for the retribution of "the poor" in the name of "justice," what is being stirred up but envy? The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Look what they have that you don’t! Wallis portrays conflicting social classes in such prejudiced light. For example, when "the poor" receive tax breaks they are "increasing the grocery budget," but when anyone else gets a tax break, Wallis suggests, they will use it merely for "mall shopping." What kind of pitch is this? It is temptation. Temptation for people with less to feel justified in envying those who produce more. Temptation for Christians to feel sympathy for socialist theft from productive people. It is agitation of feelings of envy in order to generate votes.
This amounts to barely more than an interesting Bible study until you realize how deeply the theme of Satan runs in the leftist world. Obama’s greatest political influence, and the man who first hired him as a "community organizer" (read: trained marxist activist), was a figure named Saul Alinsky. Alinksy was a dedicated marxist who trained young men in devious manipulative techniques to further political agendas. He wrote his techniques in a book, Rules for Radicals. The demonic theme begins at the book’s dedication to "the very first radical: ... the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom - Lucifer."
If the explicit nod was not enough, the program Alinsky trained his young men to follow includes this description of the "community organizer":
He has taken a group of apathetic workers; he has fanned their resentments and hostilities ... he has demonstrated that something can be done, and that there is a concrete way of doing it ... the organizer makes it clear that organization will give them power, the ability, the strength, the force to be able to do something about these particular problems.
Note the same elements that "Lucifer" used against Eve and Christ: stir up the passions (lust and envy), appeal to power (control your reality), promise results (receive the kingdom you desire).
Lest this be seen as a tangential and unconnected piece of leftist "satanic" religion, consider that Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis on Alinsky, and Obama praised him saying that "his years as an organizer gave him the best education of his life.", Alinsky’s marxist-inspired radicalism is at the heart of modern leftist religion which Wallis is pushing.
Karl Marx himself was enamoured with Satan, writing a play called "Oulanem" in which the "hero" ends by crying, "If there is Something which devours, /I’ll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruin-/ The world which bulks between me and the Abyss /I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses. / ... We’ll roar our melancholy hymns to the Creator, / With scorn on our brows! Shall the sun ever burn it away? / ... Eternally chained to this marble block of Being, / ... And the worlds drag us with them in their rounds, / Howling their songs of death, and we-/ We are the apes of a cold God."
It is from this attitude - godless but wanting to be like God - that Marx stated his atheism and then built a political system, relying on revolution, denying private property and promising to solve poverty. This, the Devil’s politics, is promoted by Obama’s trainer and Clinton’s idol Alinsky: "Agitate, Aggravate, Educate, and then Organize."
The most important part of this program for its religious agenda - in other words, in order to get it accepted in churches - is cloaking it in religious language and giving it the appearance of moral integrity. We have seen how Wallis and Obama are making a concerted effort to co-opt the language of the Bible in order to make their message palatable to evangelical Christians. Where do they get such an idea? According to Alinsky, "All effective action requires the passport of morality." Read that carefully: effective action does need morality itself, just the appearance of morality in order to get it a pass. "Moral rationalization is indispensable," even though this façade of morality is merely a "rhetorical rationale for expedient action and self-interest."
Wallis, however, is only the explicitly Christian-sounding branch of this leftist agenda for corralling votes. Secularists and atheists are depending on it, too. After a lecture at the Atheist Alliance International conference in 2007, atheist activist and leftist Edward Tabash engaged the audience in a question and answer session. The group was decidedly atheist and hostile to religion, thus they expressed concern over the fact that liberal leaders were going out of their way to speak in religious overtones. Were they selling out the leftist tradition of secularism? In answering, Tabash spoke as unguardedly as any liberal I have heard:
We don’t care what they say in order to get elected in this religious country. We care about what kind of judges they give us on the Supreme Court, because only the Supreme Court determines if we’ll have secular government. ... Don’t look to the rhetoric they need to pander to, remember what country they’re running in. I don’t care what kind of verbal obeisance they pay to religion if that’s what it takes to get a person in the White House who will give us church-state separationists on the Supreme Court.
It is not the religion that is important to these leftists. It is using religious language in a stealthy attempt to deceive Christians into voting. What is important - as much to Wallis as to Obama as to Tabash - is furthering the grip of their agenda on America. The left needs a religious garment, and Wallis and his company (Sider, Campolo, etc.) are the tailors.The left needs a book that courts evangelicals, and Wallis has written it. The building of the left need a stained-glass window, and Wallis is framing the panes.
Let us play a game now. Try to guess who gave each of the following viewpoints on abortion:
1) The goal now should be . . . how do we reduce the number of abortions? . . . Are there ways in which we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnanciesso that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking abortions?. . . How do we provide resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child? You know, have we given them the health care that they need? Have we given them the support service that we need? Have we given the options of adoption that are necessary?
2) [Democrats] could make a serious public commitment to actually do something about significantly reducing the abortion rate. ... that is, really targeting the problems of teen pregnancy and adoption reform, which are so critical to reducing abortion, while offering real support for women, especially low-income women, at greater risk for unwanted pregnancies. Providing meaningful alternatives to women caught in difficult decisions about unexpected pregnancies....
I will make the guess easier: one quotation is from Barack Obama and the other is from Jim Wallis. Still unsure which is which? The reason the ideas are inseparably similar is because the evangelical leader is simply pushing Obama’s platform. (The first quotation is Obama’s.) Obama’s tactic, following the Democratic Party platform, is to downplay the legal issue and instead talk about the rate of abortions. Wallis among others is pushing this, too. While lowering the number of abortions may sound like the more compassionate path to take (and it is a compassionate mission), let’s remember that the only reason the rate is high to begin with is because it is free and legal to have abortions. For Christians to sidestep the legal issue is irresponsible. To downplay it in order to divert votes to the liberal agenda is downright immoral and unethical.
Wallis is, however, urging liberals to relax their language on abortion. Not to give up being " pro-choice," but to expand definitions and "goals" to try to accommodate the pro-life viewpoint. Sounds good as far as it goes, but Wallis makes clear his agenda for this tactic: he hopes that Democrats, by appearing to bend on the issue, can steal Conservative votes, "And there are literally millions of votes at stake in this liberal miscalculation." Wallis is not shy at all about this agenda, but spells it out very clearly:
Such a respect of conscience on abortion and a less dismissive approach to conscientious dissenters to Democratic orthodoxy would allow many pro-life and progressive Christians the "permission" they need to vote Democratic. Again, there are millions of votes at stake here.
Wallis is sending a clear message to the Democratic leaders: "You need not give up your pro-choice position, only start adapting your rhetoric to resonate with pro-life concerns and you can steal pro-life voters from conservatives." It is clear that Wallis is a spokesman and recruiter for the left, despite his claim to have a new approach to politics. He unashamedly cites the 2000 Democratic Party Platform verbatim - "Our goal is to make abortion less necessary and more rare" - citing Bill Clinton’s promise to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare," and then laments that more recent Democrats failed to speak like this. Well, Obama has taken his advice, and instead of emphasizing the nature of abortion as murderous and illegal in God’s law, Wallis is affirming the liberal agenda to Christians and counseling liberals how to steal their votes.
That he claims to be the "leading figure at the crossroads of religion and politics in America today" is misleading. At that crossroad he is telling Christians to turn left into the dark alley of cultural surrender to liberalism. In positioning himself as an evangelical he is set to deceive evangelicals in to making that turn and voting for liberal and leftist causes.
"Spiritual" but not "Religious"
Evangelical churches are vulnerable to Wallis’ message because of a new generation of church goers who have been taught to repulse anything smacking of "organized religion." I have never heard any of these "non-denominational" movements openly identify with the alternative - "disorganized religion" - but the anti-authoritarian fad has captivated millions. "Religion" is a bad word; "spiritual" is the new buzz.
This development is barely more than the rebellion of the 1960s settled down, grown gray, and going to church. Jim Wallis admits that this is his story. He abandoned the faith of his youth and of his parents, finding a new home, as he relates, "in the civil rights and student movements of my generation." He later returned to the faith after many years arguing that Christianity needs to get involved in political issues. What he never openly reveals is that he never left the liberal baggage of those movements behind, but carried back into the church, and thus his subsequent message always leans under the weight of the left. This is why his policy proposals - always laced with Bible references and language - nearly always duplicate Obama’s agenda.
In an interview on the liberal The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Wallis appealed to this"spiritual but not religious" fad to push his agenda. He wore his agenda proudly, citing "the good news" that "the dominance of the Religious Right over our politics is finally finished!" (how he measures this victory is not explained). He claimed (like the prominent atheists today) that "religion has no monopoly on morality," and thus we must have a pluralistic society. The import of this is that "when people of faith get to the public square they shouldn’t say, ‘My religious view is this,’ they should speak in moral language that is inclusive of everybody." In other words, leave your religion to yourself and water your viewpoint down to a known political platform that uses the word "inclusive" (you can guess which platform that is).
Obama preaches the exact same message as Wallis: "I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality. I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they’re something they’re not." Wallis echoes, "I care about, not someone’s religion, but what their moral compass is." Their views are joined at every point: a leftist marriage made in delusions of heaven. Despite the rabid anti-religious nature of the left in general, Wallis is popularizing its platform in "Biblical" rhetoric, which has been true for a long time. Critics who have followed Wallis’ career for sometime note how in the early days his magazine "Sojourners began to read like the virulently atheistic The Nation, except that it had a few references to God." Today, the same author notes, Wallis’ view "hardly differs from Establishment Democrats."
Wallis openly argued on the side of Communism during the Vietnam War and condemned locals who fled that country during its havoc."The refugees, he claimed, had been ‘inoculated’ with a ‘consumer lifestyle’ during the Vietnam War, and simply were fleeing to find a place where they could further ‘support their habit’." That Wallis now synchronizes his rhetoric and ideas with Barack Obama is not unexpected. That he is pushing them to evangelicals as "Biblical" is, however, a laughable fraud. "Spiritual but not religious" means "with God’s name but not His laws." It means "Biblical principles" vaguely defined, but not "the Bible" in any specific measure.
This is what it means when leaders likeWallis speak of "a whole new denomination now called the ‘spiritual but not religious’." The interviewer Jon Stewart, an agnostic Jew, had the right comeback: "What is this, California? It’s California isn’t it? I know these cats." The humour was lost on Wallis. What’s the difference between "spiritual but not religious" and the new age, occultist, tantric sex, psychic, drug-tripping, third-eye, sixth-sense types that wafted out of Berkeley in the 1960’s, believe in "spiritual politics," and now run California?
Obama has presented himself as one of these "spiritual but not religious" people. He recounts his experience:
My father, who returned to Kenya when I was just two, was born Muslim but as an adult became an atheist. My mother, whose parents were non-practicing Baptists and Methodists, was probably one of the most spiritual and kindest people I’ve ever known, but grew up with a healthy skepticism of organized religion herself. As a consequence, so did I.
Authors and personalities today who wish to exploit Christians are playing this card - perhaps genuinely, but emphatically nonetheless. Invited by George W. Bush to speak at the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast, U2 rockstar and activist Bono gave an impassioned "homily" urging the government to give up more tax dollars to United Nations and leftist programs for poverty reduction. Jim Wallis was in attendance. Bono aligns with Wallis’ "new denomination": despite being some level of "believer" himself, Bono says, "I always avoided religious people. ... One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God." Bucking what he called "the religious establishment," and giving a literal nod to Wallis, Bono laid out a plan referring to Wallis’ book God’s Politics.
It was this liberal program, baptized in Biblical verses and religious language, that lured Bono back, not to the faith of his fathers, but to Wallis-style "spiritual but not religious" political activism. An elderly couple Bono knew, he says, "did it by describing the Millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world’s poorest people. They had the audacity [have we heard that particular rhetoric somewhere else?] to renew the Lord’s call."
The fad of "spiritual but not religious" is widespread and has at least one profound consequence for Christians: by unhinging Christians from any religious tradition it gives them a false sense of liberation and opens them up to deceivers. This is the essence of progressive liberalism: under the guise of "new" it creates a void of ignorance to fill with revolutionary agendas. Unknowing but well-intentioned evangelicals who have little knowledge of the Bible and even less about economics are simply suckered by political liberals who want votes and government money.
Bono gave his speech on February 2, 2006. He called for an additional 1% (about $27 Billion - that’s why he refers to it only as 1%) of the federal budget to be directed to international assistance. That’s money captured by using religious language to persuade government into taxing your income. Bono said this is "what God is doing" and piled on the guilt, saying his plea was one of the defining missions of our era: "History, like God, is watching what we do."
Sixth months later, Bono invested his own money - about $250 million - buying a stake in the free-market capitalist-promoting Forbes Media group. Sound fishy? Apparently, Irish tax law had until recently given authors and artists a free ride. The most recent budget, however, calls for royalties over €250,000 to be taxed like everyone else. Bono and his boys began looking for tax-shelters and investments for their hoards of cash (tens of millions each year) and moved their money to different outlets overseas, avoiding the tax burdens suffered by everyone else. "History, like God, is watching what we do." He is watching whom we choose as religious prophets, too.
One of the great dangers that Wallis’ liberal agenda poses to religion is that it imports the humanist attitude of salvation through politics. In this scenario, social change comes through coercion, taxation, redistributing wealth, and whatever necessary measures of government force. Reform beginning with the hearts of men and equality before the law is secondary if mentioned at all.
Jim Wallis, Call to Renewal, and all the religious-speak spiritualizing the democratic platform falls into this humanistic bracket. For example, in Call to Renewal’s 2004 convention, Wallis called a group of fellow-travellers to sign a document reaffirming their pledge against poverty. Note some of the liberal cast:
The Washington National Cathedral service at which Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Pastor of Riverside Church was the guest preacher was one of several events during Pentecost 2004, including a keynote speech by Bill Moyers and remarks from The Hon. Alphonso Jackson, Secretary U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) from the Democratic Platform Committee, on behalf of the Bush and Kerry campaigns.
Affirming their fight against poverty, the signers agree: "We therefore covenant with each other that in this election year, we will pray together and work together for policies that can achieve these goals." The goal is to bring about the "new heavens and a new earth" which Isaiah relates (Is. 65:17–25). The theology is a bit skewed: instead of turning to God’s covenant, relying on God’s timing and God’s law (Isaiah begins the passage relating God’s words "I create new heavens and a new earth") the document determines to leverage an election year and use government policies to further their goals. By covenanting with each other to change government policy, they are relying on politics to further God’s work. This is the classic mistake of religious liberalism.It denies the law and power of God, and thus is reduced to manipulating politics and creating government schemes to give the illusion of "progress" toward a great society.
One critic has noted this aspect of Obama’s agenda as well. Despite all of the presidential aspirant’s appeals to religion, the Senator always falls back on political coercion to carry out his goals: "In the U.S. Senate, Obama has yet to find a tax increase that he does not support. ... There is no problem in America that Barack Obama cannot solve with a tax increase."
The scariest part about salvation through politics is that such believers are always looking for the next political Messiah. No political leader has generated such fawning and praise as a messiah for decades as has Obama. The term "Obamessiah" has been coined due to outflow of veneration. Jesse Jackson claimed that Obama’s nomination "is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance." Spike Lee compares Obama to Christ: "You’ll have to measure time by ‘Before Obama’ and ‘After Obama’," and Louis Farrakhan calls him "a saviour." Jackson (whom Wallis backed for president in 1984) claims Obama is running a "theological campaign": "he took of his arms and grew wings." "At the University of Texas, crowds sang ‘Obama-leluja’ at his approach."
One liberal writer called Obama "not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over colour, over despair . . . Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our higher selves." Another leaned into new-age language: Obama is beyond human, he is a "Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or what not, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, ... actually help us evolve."
Still more. MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews said that "I’ve never seen anything like this. This is bigger than Kennedy. [Obama] comes along, and he seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament." A follower praised Obama as "closer to a Jesus-type than the other candidates, by quite a bit" and urged everyone not to let Obama "slip away, not availing ourselves of the opportunity to be led by God!"
Would-be political messiahs like Obama are not necessarily new to the left. Adam Clayton Powell was a civil rights leader and congressman representing Harlem, NY from 1945–1971. He stimulated an impressive amount of social progress in race relations, championed social welfare promotions under Kennedy, and was instrumental in passing Lyndon Johnson’s behemoth welfare program the "Great Society" which promised to end poverty. He reached the height of his influence in the early 60’s but then ran into accusations of corruption and lack of integrity. Lamenting the erosion of Powell’s image of integrity Newsweek reporter Claude Lewis wrote of him as "a brilliant man who might have become a Messiah." Despite representing a poor district, Powell drew attention for flaunting his personal wealth, and even taking personal trips on government money. The situation is not much different today. We have a civil-rights-type leader who calls for government programs every bit as massive as the Great Society in the name of ending poverty. He claims to represent the poor and to take their side yet he himself lives in a $1.65 million mansion. Nevertheless, the many choir-notes of praise above are not isolated occurrences, but a theme carried through every facet of the liberal media. Leftist humanists believe in salvation through politics. Evangelicals like Wallis are hailing their message in religious language. Meanwhile, the humanists are donning religious language, too, so they can all together spread palm branches of praise before their political Messiah riding in on the donkey of Democratic politics.
And a question remains, anyway. Exactly how can a political messiah deliver?
The "Common Good"
Wallis and his leftist idols including Obama continually talk about the "common good." Closely related to the hijacking of religious terminology, "the common good" is a way of looking religious and deceiving religious people into signing up, yet deny the Bible itself any mention that is not already censored and sanctioned by the socialist agenda. So when Wallis seems to speak boldly for the faith when he refers to "prophetic politics," he immediately smothers the idea under a leftist pillow: "We must find a new moral and political language that transcends old divisions and seeks the common good.... Prophetic politics would not be an endless argument between personal and social responsibility, but a weaving of the two together in search of the common good."
Question: how does individualism survive any "weaving together" with mandated social programs? Exactly. To the extent that government grows individual liberty shrinks. This is the clever trick of "common good." Who can argue against the "common good"? Are you saying you prefer the "common evil"? That’s unchristian! Then whenever a program is put forth as "for the common good," you must either vote for it or declare yourself public enemy number one. Wallis defines it in softer language: "new civic partnerships in which everyone does their share and everybody does what they do best." The attentive student will hear Karl Marx ringing in the background, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" Yes, it was the great father of modern communism’s visionary banner unfurled over a society where "In a higher phase of communist society ... all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly."
That Wallis is pushing the left’s agenda and code language is again obvious. Obama says, "Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality." This really means evangelicals must leave the foundation of their religion outside the doors of city hall, and Obama is honest about this: "Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice."
That is the leftists’ answer: "We have no choice." The vaunted side of pro-choice is anti-choice when it comes to Biblical faith being explicit. They want the name "Biblical faith," and they want the voting appeal of "Biblical faith," but when it comes to actual policy-making the Bible must be removed from the table. It must be replaced by "the common good."
What you will never hear them ask let alone affirm is this: "Is less spending, lower taxes, and minimal government involvement in the common good?" This question is never asked because it is antithetical to the left’s platform which Wallis pushes. One reviewer notes, "I have never read an issue of Sojourners without finding at least one (and usually many more than one) demand to increase the power and scope of the state." The author continues in an open letter to Wallis, "[T]here is no one in the world of organized Christianity who has championed Leviathan more than you. I have come to believe that you oppose U.S. conflicts not so much because they are immoral, but rather because they take resources away from the government’s being able to wage war on productive people at home."
In fact, Wallis (ironically and ignorantly) even calls cuts in the size of government "draconian." ("Draconian" comes from "Draco" who was the first legislator of Athens. His laws were famous for prescribing harsh penalties, often death, for minor offenses. "Draconian" refers to too much government, not reductions in government power.)
What about explicit Biblical commands, are those for the common good? How about, "You shall not steal"? That’s obvious; but could we say, "You shall not steal through legislation"? Is that stretching it, or does that fall under "enacting evil statutes" (Is. 10:1)? Wallis cannot remain Biblical and continue to argue for unequal tax burdens and government confiscation of wealth. The Bible demands no theft, which means no financial favouritism of anykind.
What? Is the Bible against the poor as Wallis blames conservative Christians? Solomon doesn’t think so. Even when a poor man steals out of hunger, though men might be tempted to sympathize, God, Solomon says, yet considers that a punishable crime: "Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry; But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the substance of his house" (Prov. 6:30–31). This is because laws should not be written to favour either the rich or the poor.
This is why Wallis and his colleagues always talk about "common good" and undefined "biblical principles." This has been the strategy since Ron Sider first began dousing evangelicals with guilt in 1977. Even though affirming God as sovereign over every area of life, we are continually told that the Bible provides no "blueprints" for society. Sider wrote, "We do not find a comprehensive blueprint for a new economic order in Scripture...." Wallis echoes, "The Bible doesn’t propose any blueprint for an economic system...." The matchless critic David Chilton had the proper response:
This, of course, means that Sider is free to devise his own blue-print, while using vague "biblical principles" to justify his thesis to the Christian community. Sider’s blueprint calls for socialistic redistribution of wealth and government intervention - a blueprint not countenanced in Scripture, but which Sider claims to find in the fact that "biblical revelation tells us that God and his faithful people are always at work liberating the oppressed, and also provides some principles for apropos justice in society."
Wallis concurs: the Bible has no blueprint, "but rather insists that all human economic arrangements be subject to the demands of God’s justice, that great gaps be avoided or rectified, and that the poor are not left behind." Neither Sider nor Wallis say where the Bible allows government to extract private money for these causes (it doesn’t), nor do they even compare their "biblical principles" to the blueprint provided in Old Testament law (yes there is a blueprint there). Sider has since replaced his appeal to "Biblical principles" with the more sophisticated sounding "holistic Biblical vision" and "normative framework," and yet continues his slogan, "[T]he bible does not offer a detailed blueprint for political life today." Nevertheless, we are left with Chilton’s conclusion (a good one) that these men are merely using the Bible to advance leftist social agendas. There is no other explanation.This transparency does not stop these men from fighting for their cause. Anyone who opposes their view and cites particular Scripture verses as "normative" or proposes a different "framework" they simply label as "theocracy" or "theocrats." Wallis warns that these theocrats are found among "the Religious Right’s leaders" and they "would impose their versions of morality on the nation if they ever had the chance." The laugher holds great irony. It is the Biblical view which seeks to minimize the size of government intervention in our lives and hopes to maximize prosperity through honesty and freedom. Meanwhile, Wallis wants to "impose" a government that extracts vast quantities of private wealth and manage a behemoth network of welfare agencies. "Theocracy" by any Biblical definition makes Wallis’ leviathan look like a Soviet Corrective Labor Camp.
Meanwhile, the preachers at the church Obama spends so much time in have a little different view of whose ground is common. The liberal Catholic priest, Michael Pfleger,who has at times filled the pulpit in Jeremiah White’s absence, has a strong racist beef. To whites who say, "Don’t hold me responsible for what my ancestors did," he prescribes this:
But you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did! And unless you are ready to give up the benefits - throw away your 401 fund, throw away your trust fund, throw away all the money they put away and company you walked into ... unless you’re willing to give up the benefits, then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation. . .!
What Pfleger proposes fits very squarely into Wallis’ "Biblical principles." Turn over rich white money and give it to poor black folk. This would certainly eliminate a gap and alleviate some poverty for a while. Is this a just proposal? How can we judge if it presents "common ground" or not? If the Bible provides no blueprint, then who does? And why should we respect their blueprint? If Pfleger is sitting across that table from you, you’d better hope that Biblical law arbitrates that discussion, else the compromise might get painful to listen to.So when these new social gospellers say "common ground" they really mean that they want your ground to be held in common. You give ground and they’ll tell you how you can use it. You write the check and they’ll spend it. "Common ground" is a liberal’s dreamscape where Biblical monuments are leveled (Deut. 19:14, 27:17) and wealth flows into the coffers of the State where liberals can spend it (minus 20% for administrative fees). When you hear common ground think of a drawbridge inviting an invading army into your castle. Wallis wants to cross the moat of Biblical boundaries. He calls, he promises, he cries, "Peace, peace." The bridge is yours to lower. Or not. (1)
A book released in November of 2006 gave the final academic definitive proof of what everyone already instinctively knew: religious conservatives give far more to private charity than liberals, no matter how the stats are tallied or how you divide the pie charts. Arthur C. Brooks has highlighted the great tradition of charitable giving in America in Who Really Cares. Catholic author [Fr.] Richard John Neuhaus noted, "This remarkable book documents the dramatic gap between those who talk about caring and those who actually do it."
What Brooks discovered and proved statistically and undeniably, and what the Bible promotes from cover to cover, is that the solution to poverty is organized voluntary giving. Organized, yes, but definitely voluntary. When government interferes it merges its legitimate role as an agent of force with a role Scripture denies it: an agent of benevolent provision. This fusion makes the State dangerously close to taking the place of God and His image in society. When people grow dependent on the State, economic disaster awaits. Disaster will also await if we tout voluntary charity and don’t perform it, but State-enforced wealth redistribution is unbiblical and has never proven anything but disastrous, sometimes in the short-term, always in the long run.
Some decidedly leftist Christians cannot accept these facts. They refuse to acknowledge that voluntary charity works, that the government dole fails, that the Bible does not sanction State interference unless a crime is committed. Some cannot even imagine private charity ever amounting to much. Columnist E. J. Dionne, influenced at Wallis’ Call to Renewal in 2003, complained for the poor, "Religious groups will never have the money to transform the material conditions of these families. But relatively modest government outlays could make their lives much better." This lack of vision is not only unbiblical and ignorant of the statistics on charitable giving, it displays a profound pessimism about God’s people. It assumes that God’s people (and others) will not give when God says give. It says that God’s word is not enough, government must step in with additional plans, figures, and taxes. This is the primary message, not of Biblical faith, but of faithless humanism.
It is humanism indeed. This message is nothing more than the standard, long-term agenda of the political left. It is the message of Barack Obama and Jim Wallis is selling it. Barack changes his language to match what Jim says will help get votes. Jim writes assuring his followers that the Bible wants them to vote "progressive," which means fiscally liberal. The stats on charity, however, don’t lie. The only thing liberals are liberal with is other peoples’ money, and Wallis is trying to justify that lust with Bible verses. You, however, have been forewarned. You don’t have to buy it. They don’t care about your church, your freedom, or your money. Send this report to everyone you know who does.
(1) The pro-abortion, anti-Catholic, anti-American billionaire investor George Soros is known to fund the Catholic Left, giving the so-called Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good $50,000 in 2005 and $100,000 in 2006. The aim is to convince Catholics that they can be opponents of abortion and not seek to overturn Roe v. Wade if they support minimum wage and more welfare benefits. - Ed., CO.