From the Washington Post:
Sally Quinn of the Washington Post interviewed Rev. Jim Wallis recently. Wallis discussed his disagreement with conservative talk show host Glenn Beck as well as the concept of “social justice.” Wallis is founder of the Sojourners Christian community and a well-known commentator on social and cultural issues.
Sally Quinn: Why did Glenn Beck get on your case?
Jim Wallis: Well, I don’t understand why he is so upset about social justice and social justice Christians. That’s who he attacked. He said “If your church even has social justice on their website, or if the priest or pastor is preaching social justice, run as fast as you can, leave that church, turn your priest into church authorities. I said if he says we should leave our churches, meaning the Catholic Church, the black churches, the mainline protestant churches, the evangelical, Pentecostal, his own Mormon Church -they all believe in social justice. And I say if he says leave our churches we should leave him and not watch his show.
But to say that Jesus calls us, and I would say I was in a synagogue last Friday and the Jewish faith calls us, and I was with some Muslims last night in New York City and Islam calls us to the common good, to serve our brother and our sister and yes, to justice. To social and economic justice. And to say, as Glenn Beck has said, that’s just a slippery slope to Marxism is just not true.
SQ: Do you think that he’ll keep this up if he sees that it’s really helping your movement?
JW: I don’t know, I was surprised that he went after me in the way that he has. But I also have pointed out to our people [that] If Jesus calls us to social justice he also calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. So I’ve asked our people ‘Do not attack Glenn Beck personally no matter what he says or does to me or anybody else. Do not attack him personally. And we have to pray for our brother even when he attacks us. That’s part of what Jesus commands us to do: love our enemies. So we got to stay on the high ground here no matter . . .
SQ: Is it hard?
JW: Well, I mean, sometimes when they’re just misrepresenting like they said “Does the gospel call us to redistribution?’, and I said ‘yes.’” ‘So Jim Wallis wants the government to come in!’ -I didn’t say anything like that. That’s dishonest.
SQ: Can you be a Christian and not be in favor of social justice?
JW: Well, I don’t see how you can be a Christian unless you want to follow Jesus. That’s the whole idea. So, did Jesus call us to a life of social justice? Yes. He lived it, He called us to it. The kingdom is about changing the world and us with it. So yes, to be a Christian is to follow Jesus. That’s what it means.
SQ: And Jesus was in favor of social justice.
JW: Well he lived it. He defined it. But not in the narrow political ways it’s used by the right and the left. I mean it is true that term’s been used by the right and the left for all kinds of ideological purposes that aren’t necessarily the purposes of Christ. But what Jesus meant by re-establishing right relationship together is what we’re called to.