I’ve always found Jim Wallis unimpressive. My first encounter came when he spoke at my undergrad university in 2006. Recently, Marvin Olasky criticized Wallis for not admitting his political leanings, which if you’ve read God’s Politics or his many other publications you will quickly see are left of center. Olasky himself admitted that he is conservative, interprets in part through that lens, and thinks openness about such biases is helpful and honest. Knowing the general premises’ of a commentator allows the listener/reader to better understand what about his/her statements are fair representations and what partakes of evasive partisanship. I agree with Olasky’s general call. Be honest about where you come from politically. Both can be Christians but we must admit our reading of Bible is not the only cultural influence.
Further, Olasky points out that Wallis’s magazine Sojourners, has accepted money from George Soros, whose other financial contributions include $5 million to MoveOn.org and $10 to America Coming Together. This statement was made merely to reinforce Olasky’s argument about Wallis’ un-admitted point-of-view. Soros does not give to religious organizations to spread the Gospel any more than Tea Partiers try to recruit Church-goers to fulfill the Great Commission. He gives to progressive groups arguing for a progressive program.
All of that was really introduction, for there is nothing wrong with having a political point-of-view or with accepting financial help. But the troubling part of this story is Wallis’ reaction. When asked about Olasky’s comments, Wallis replied “”It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”
Not only was this mean-spirited; not only was it in the same spirit of the Beck’s and Limbaugh’s he claims to be above; it was blatantly untrue. The next day Sojourners admitted to taking money from Soros. Did Wallis then apologize for not just calling Olasky a liar but saying lying is his form of making a living? No. Instead he says, “”I should have declined to comment until I was able to review the [Olasky] blog post in question and consulted with our staff on the details of our funding over the past several years. Instead, I answered in the spirit of the accusation and did not recall the details of our funding over the decade in question.”
Not only did he not apologize for calling the truth a lie; he insinuates his mistatement/untruth was provoked by Olasky’s statement of the truth.
He also pleaded justified ignorance of the donations, because “OSI [Soros group]made up the tiniest fraction of Sojourners’ funding during that decade–so small that I hadn’t remembered them.” From 2004-2007 Soros gave no less than $325,000 to Sojourners.
However legitimate his accusations against Glen Beck (which are much closer to the truth than his childish comparison to Olasky), Wallis should perhaps seek to remove the log from his own eye before performing other-focused operations. The upstart religious left is proving to be little different in spirit than the worst offenses of the religious right they so furiously attack.