Jim Wallis' interfaith message to young people: “We are here to find common ground.”

At a White House ordained national interfaith conference, Evangelical Left icon Jim Wallis spoke to college students about bringing faiths together to find common ground.  (Were you aware that the White House sponsors initiatives like this?) It's called the  Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, and its purpose is to promote service projects and “foundational goodness” to bring students from different religious backgrounds together. In the syncretized blending of faith, a “meditation and prayer space” transitioned the speakers and sessions, including teachings from a Christian, a Muslim, and a self-professed pagan. Not invited: a representative from the Absolute-Truth-Via-Sola-Scriptura camp.  Just saying.

Who is Jim Wallis, you may ask? He is a spiritual advisor to President Obama and a former Chapter President of Students For a Democratic Society, a violent communist organization in the 1960s.the leader of Sojourners, the leading social justice organization in the US.

English: Jim Wallis

Wallis headlined this event held last month in Chicago titled Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration (ICIC). He spoke before a gathering of students, professionals and community members about creating an understanding between people of different theological and philosophical backgrounds.  The Institute on Religion & Democracy published an article titled, Jim Wallis Embraces Interfaith Millennials.

Here are some excerpts:

  • Wallis praised the multi-faith speakers: "It's great to have a Calvinist and a pagan talking about their world views. We don't do interfaith work to abandon our faith identities,” he insisted. “We are here to find common ground.”
  • Wallis proposed that today’s youth are supporting those who are being "trafficked" and denied "educational opportunity." Interest is shifting toward causes of injustice, such as immigration, with hopes of leveling the playing field.
  • Wallis believes there has been an increased tolerance for other religious faiths and contrary opinions. "For what kind of values will you be sacrificial for? … The difference between events and movements is sacrifice."
  • Wallis complained that devout believers become fodder for superficial commentary about faith and war. "Religion at its worst provides ammunition for conflicts," he surmised. "Sharia law is a big threat in Tennessee," he joked, referring to proposed state legislation targeting Islamic law, which he deemed a distraction.
  • When asked about concerns among some conservatives about presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, Wallis responded: "We have had a lot of incompetent Christians in the White House. Religion has no monopoly on morality.”
  • When older audience members asked about the importance of prayer and salvation, Wallis minimized their importance. Citing the Millennial Values Survey Report, he noted decreased concerns among Millennials about religious dogma. "Get arrested together and discuss theology in jail," Wallis suggested, citing a conversation between liberal evangelist Tony Campolo and a rabbi between they were arrested in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda during last summer's debt ceiling debate. The two briefly imprisoned men came to understand each other better.
  • "The answer to bad religion is not no religion, it is good religion… That is the religious vocation that you have," Wallis said. The "practice of faith" is what will convince non-believers of Christianity's truth.


To see these quotes in context, go to the source.  Hat tip Marsha West.