Jim Wallis As a Proxy For Barack Obama


Some pretty despicable religious leaders have advised the White House (and its aspirants) over the years, but I wouldn't say Jim Wallis is one of them. He is, however, a moderate masquerading as a social progressive, which is why the founder of Sojourners magazine ("progressive Christian commentary on faith, politics and culture") and an advisor to President Obama is under fire, reports the Daily Beast's David Sessions, for declining to run an ad that encourages pastors to welcome gay parishioners:

Some liberal Christians were baffled by the group's decision to reject the fairly innocuous one-minute ad, which features a young boy walking into a church with his lesbian parents and encountering cold stares before being welcomed by the minister.

The controversy spread quickly online, with liberal clergy members and bloggers writing that Wallis had "thrown gays and lesbians under the bus." Sex-advice columnist Dan Savage mentioned it on his blog.

Joseph Ward, director of communications for the New York-based Christian group Intersections International, which submitted the ad for its Believe Out Loud campaign, said Sojourners' rejection took his organization by surprise. Others were less shocked; after all, Wallis has never taken strong public stands on culture-war issues. In a statement posted online Monday, Wallis wrote that while Sojourners is committed to "civil liberties" for gays and lesbians, "these debates have not been at the core of our calling, which is much more focused on matters of poverty, racial justice, stewardship of the creation, and the defense of life and peace."

Wallis' rise (and seemingly impending) fall within the Progressive Christian movement mirrors the rise of Obama, a pro-corporate welfare neo-liberal, among Progressive Democrats. Both prefer the class war to the culture war, and the appearance of war to the actual waging of it. Both are simultaneously betraying the margins of their constituencies. 

And just as Obama has been hen-pecked by allies to his left who wanted Congress to pass single-payer legislation and abandon DADT and DOMA without the DOJ first going through the motions of defending federal law, Wallis is now getting flack from a community whose most vocal members take "social justice" far more seriously than their Beltway representatives.