From Salon: “A source close to the Faith Table, a gathering of ostensibly progressive Christians helmed by evangelical leader Jim Wallis, notes that the group has been agitating for Stupak-Pitts for months, with Wallis declaring Stupak-Pitts the most important vote of the year.” I’ve expressed a lot of skepticism of Jim Wallis’ and Sojourners commitment to pro-life issues in general and on health care reform in particular (here, here and here with a nice summary of the entire issue here).
Friends and acquaintances who are more inclined to give Brother Jim and other “progressive evangelicals” the benefit of the doubt would like to know whether this would rate him at least one cheer. Short answer: No.
While I’d be delighted to offer up a cheer or two for Wallis and Sojourners, I’m afraid I just can’t do it. For one thing, I simply can’t find any unambiguous support for Stupak-Pitts over at Sojourners from Brother Jim or anyone else. Nothing! I know where they stand on Afghanistan (unilateral military withdrawal) but on health care and abortion ambiguity (at best) seems to be the watchword. Nothing “prophetic” being offered up on that front.
However, maybe Brother Jim has been stealthily lobbying for Stupak-Pitts behind the scenes. Maybe he is, as the pro-abortion left would have it, really a stalking horse for the Catholic Bishops and the religious right. Maybe he did it without the knowledge of anyone in either Representative Stupak’s or Representative Pitts’ office. Stupak and Pitts’ staff has assured me that they know nothing of such lobbying efforts or support for the Stupak-Pitts amendment. Wallis has simply not been in the picture.
Some might think it would be uncharitable not to give Wallis, Brian McLaren, David Gushee and the rest of the progressive evangelicals the benefit of the doubt. But we’re way past the point where Wallis can continue to play this game. But lest I be accused of being uncharitable, here’s a chance for Wallis and the rest of the Sojourners crowd to clear the air. Jim (and Brian and David) do you support Stupak-Pitts or don’t you? Will you insist that the senate bill includes Stupak-Pitts language or not? Will you support health care legislation if Stupak-Pitts language is dropped from the final bill?
Absent such clear and unambiguous statement on the issue a lot of pro-life Christians might think Wallis, Sojourners and other progressive evangelicals are speaking out of both sides of their mouths on the question of health care and abortion. Time to fish or cut bait!