Future of Evangelicalism
The Legacy of an Activist Career An Interview with Jim Wallis
There is a small mainline Protestant Left. Can it make the same mistakes? Of course it can. I have said just recently that all Washington cares about is access. They're just after access. For most people that's enough, to get access. To have your calls returned; to get invited to meetings; to be on conference calls. We should never be satisfied with access. We need to be satisfied only with results.
Thirty thousand kids are still dying every day. That hasn't changed. We still have kids dying in Afghanistan every day, for a needless, senseless, and immoral war. That hasn't changed. We're still growing more deeply into poverty in this country. So without change, without metrics, without outcomes, access is very seductive. Parties on both sides want to co-opt religious people to be their supporters. There needs to be a prophetic voice always on behalf of the poor, the innocent, and the victims.
That's our role. To be an independent prophetic voice on behalf of those who are always left out of politics. Politicians talk about the middle class; they never talk about the poor. Democrats don't talk about the poor; the White House doesn't talk about the poor. It's about the middle class; it's about voters. So our job is to talk about people who have been left behind. That's our job.
Have you had the opportunity, publicly and privately, to have that prophetic voice within this administration? In regards to Afghanistan . . .
Yes, if you've read what I've said: it's wrong. It's an immoral, ineffective, stupid war. I've said that publicly and privately. They're killing American kids. And I've said more recently, when you walk by the Vietnam Memorial Wall, you realize that most of those kids died after we knew the war wasn't winnable -- and we kept going anyway.
Now, this war is not winnable. Everyone knows that. And someday we're going to quit. In the meantime, a lot of American kids and a lot of kids in Afghanistan are going to die. It's wrong. Both parties have sold out.
I want to give you an opportunity to respond to a criticism. There was recently an article by Marvin Olasky of World Magazine in which you were challenged, in spite of your professions of non-partisanship, to confess that you are a member of the Left. How do you respond to that?
I haven't read his article, but I debated Marvin recently at a Christian college. Marvin is a radical libertarian. That's a political philosophy I do not agree with. Marvin believes in the myth of the sinless market. The market is sinless and government is sinful. He has a bad theology.
I've been arrested twenty-two times by the government. I'm hardly an apologist for the government. You just heard me talk about Afghanistan. But to say the government has no role is silly and stupid. At one point in our debate, I said, "Marvin, six banks control 90 percent of the credit card business. They're cheating people. Why are you against the rules regulating them?" And he is against those rules.
He said, "Well, there's still 10 percent of the market that's not controlled by those banks."
I told him that's pathetic. Corporations are sinful. The myth of the sinless market is a theological mistake. Do we really want to trust them not to pollute our water and our air? Do we really want to let them give our children toxic toys full of lead? Look at the disaster in the gulf. What BP has done is sinful. I never hear anything from the Marvin Olaskys, from the libertarians, about the sins of corporations. They can only talk about the sins of government.
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.