I blogged about the Jim Wallis funding controversy here and here. Now Jay Richards, a former Acton fellow, has more at NRO, beginning with a look at Wallis’s “clarification” of his earlier denials:

Note that Wallis does not apologize for falsely accusing Marvin Olasky of “lying for a living.” Instead, he blames his own misrepresentation of the truth on the “spirit of the accusation.”

The “clarification” of his earlier statement is equally unsatisfying. First, Wallis is still trying to claim that his organization transcends the Manichean political divide of left and right. They just do “biblical social justice,” he insists. But again, as I show in much more detail elsewhere, Wallis and Sojourners regularly couple strained, narrow readings of scriptural texts and a vaguely Marxist economic foundation to arrive at political and economic positions that are well left of center and far afield of a far more nuanced charity and justice tradition stretching back through almost 2,000 years of orthodox Christian thought.

Second, it’s implausible for Wallis to claim that grants between 2004 and 2007 totaling $325,000 are “the tiniest fraction” of Sojourners’ funding. Worse, the three grants from Soros’s Open Society Institute are only the tip of the iceberg. Based on publicly-available 990s, I’ve discovered that Sojourners received at least forty-nine separate foundation grants between 2003 and 2009, totaling $2,159,346. Not one of these is from a discernibly conservative foundation. Very few are from discernibly Christian foundations.

To be clear, the problem isn’t that Sojourners is less than apolitical. It’s that Wallis persists in claiming that Sojourners doesn’t rest anywhere on the political spectrum, and isn’t heavily funded by members of the secular left. Sojourners is a left-wing organization, and it should be judged in no small measure by the success or failure of its left-wing ideas in the course of world and American history.

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard also has a new article on the controversy, which includes a summary of Wallis’s ideological journey beginning in the 1960s:

Unlike Cizik, Wallis was grudging in his admission of a Soros connection. Cizik over the years has shifted from right to left, so his affiliation with Ted Turner, and then Soros, seem natural. Wallis began as a campus radical with the Students for a Democratic Society, touted the Sandinistas during the 1980s, and denounced Clinton for signing Welfare Reform in 1996. But over the last decade Wallis has reinvented a new, cuddlier image as the graying, post-ideological prophet who shuns temporal political labels. When evangelicals became an especially key constituency during the George W. Bush years, Wallis rediscovered and advertised his evangelical roots, though he generally avoids theological self-revelation and describes his evangelical beliefs in political terms. Appealing to evangelical colleges and suburban mega-church yuppies, Wallis probably prefers not to become known as George Soros’s favorite evangelical activist.

UPDATE: Jim Wallis has now issued an apology to Marvin Olasky, reported here at Christianity Today, and Jay Richards has additional commentary here at the Enterprise blog.


  • Roger McKinney

    This is an old trick of the left. They claim to be progressives and not socialists at all. Yet there is no difference between progressivism and outright Marxism. And the mainstream media regularly proclaims their neutrality while pimping for popular Marxism all the time. Of course, I don’t think it has fooled anyone but the left. No one in the middle or on the right is the least bit fooled. The left has merely succeeded in fooling itself.

  • t.lewis

    A man like this is Obama’s spiritual advisor…sure speaks for itself..

  • http://www.cdobs.com John Powers

    Wallis can’t leave well-enough alone, and has to get in one more shot at Glenn Beck.

    Personal responsibility for his own violation of the 9th commandment is escaping Wallis on this one.

    JBP

  • http://www.RoyMCarlisle.com Roy M Carlisle

    Over my many years in Christian religious publishing (30+ years) I acquired and edited books from the left and right including authors such as Wallis, Graham, Cash, Berrigan, Sir John Templeton, Harold Lindsell, Jerry B. Jenkins, and the list goes on and on. But what I found throughout my career was that only the conservative/right leaning people attacked me for publishing a broad range of Christian perspectives, not my authors but others. Progressive Christians never did that, ever. I never understood it, don’t understand it, even at the ripe old age of 63, and probably will never understand it. Even if I do work at a conservative/libertarian think tank and probably should understand it. But it does make it clear which side of heaven I want to be on!

  • Pingback: Latte Links (9/4/10) | Caffeinated Thoughts()