May 10, 2011

On Jim Wallis' failed leadership

The fact that the matter before the public and Sojourners went to Jim Wallis' desk so fast, and that he felt compelled to respond in what he saw as a comprehensive way so quickly, demonstrates the nature of the threat as it's been articulated - that he doesn't want to have this mantle removed from him yet, especially after that tussle with - er, whatshisname? - oh yeah, Glenn Beck. So he understands now that he and staff cannot be passive in handling these things, and on this score, that it's already too late. They should consider themselves as being on notice, as I'm sure they now do.

The question as I see it is framed by his prose that welcoming LGBT "has not been at the core of our calling" - that the core of their work is poverty, racial equality, stewardship of creation, etc. Specifically, that welcoming LGBT is not of a piece with these concerns, or that it's detachable, or some kind of throwaway or add-on, when clearly all these things belong at the core. If he's incapable of seeing this holistically then his organization is less calculating than anyone figured, which I do not believe is the case. He's simply not going to take a clear stand, and will continue to be mealymouthed about this, until something outside him shakes him, and what he's written backs that up - "all show and no go," as they say. Therefore, it really is time to ask: Who is capable of speaking for the religious left in a way that is comprehensive, holistic, and unapologetic?

Instead of what Sojourners did yesterday, they should have reprimanded the responsible parties, rewritten their policies, and put out a brief statement declaring inclusion of all persons as a basic tenet of Christian life. Anything else would have fallen short, and did.

Mr. Wallis, by his prose, seems to think he's dodging a bullet, but what is he protecting after all? The causes for which Sojo stands are basically virtuous, but you can't play pick-and-choose as they've done here.

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