An Open Letter to Famous Progressive Christian Jim Wallis

An Open Letter to Famous Progressive Christian Jim Wallis May 9, 2011

Dear Mr. Wallis,

Hi! You and I aren’t personally acquainted or anything (though we are slightly affiliated, insofar as we both blog about religion for The Huffington Post). I definitely know that, as the author of New York Times bestsellers God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It and The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post–Religious Right America—and as president and CEO of Sojourners, and editor-in-chief of the highly influential Sojourners magazine—you are one of the guiding lights of American progressive Christianity.

That’s so awesome. Could you be more famous? Congratulations on all the fantastic things you’ve accomplished.

I’m writing because I believe you have someone on staff at Sojourners who, for some reason, is maybe not entirely clear on the work you and Sojourners do. And, alas, that person recently made a pretty awful mistake that I am sure you will want to right away rectify.

Recently the good people at Believe Out Loud produced a wonderful little video promoting LGBT equality in our churches. Here is that video:

Have you seen it before? Really tugs at the ol’ heartstrings, doesn’t it? I find it exceptionally powerful.

Anyway, last week or so the folks at Believe Out Loud tried to buy ad space for this video on Sojo.net. They were hoping the video might run on your site on Mother’s Day, for which of course it would have been particularly apropos.

I say “would have been,” because guess what happened? Someone at Sojourners turned down the ad buy for the video! Can you believe it? Me neither! In refusing the video, someone in your office wrote to the Believe Out Loud people, “I’m afraid we’ll have to decline. Sojourners position is to avoid taking sides on this issue. In that care [sic], the decision to accept [this] advertising may give the appearance of taking sides.” That person went on to say that Sojourners has not taken a stance on gay marriage, or on the ordination of homosexuals.

I know! Can you imagine someone working for you declaring that video to be too radical or controversial for Sojourners to be associated with? It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? Hasn’t that person even read the Sojourners Diversity Statement, where it says things like:

  • We affirm the biblical truth of every human being’s inherent dignity and worth,
  • We affirm that in the Body of Christ there is no distinction or hierarchy according to racial, ethnic, gender, or social identity and economic status,
  • We celebrate diversity as essential to the unity and strength of Christ’s Body
  • We confess that both personal prejudice and systemic oppression are sin.

Calling personal prejudice and systemic oppression a sin! Now that is some seriously bold language, right there. I love it. Way to lay it straight out, so that no one can possibly misunderstand you.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you might want to track down and correct whomever it is in your organization who is so egregiously failing to properly represent you and your wonderful work. (Hint: the person you’re looking for might be someone pretty high up in your organization; Believe Out Loud was told that the decision to refuse their video was made by “the folks in executive.” It’s almost funny, isn’t it?)

Thank you very much for reading this, Mr. Wallis. And thanks for doing, as I am absolutely confident that you will, the right thing.

Sincerely yours,

 

John Shore

[Update: Mr. Wallis and His Big Gay Waffle.]

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