Guest Author - BettyAnn Schmidt
God's Politics. Jim Wallis. HarperCollins. 2005
“God is Not a Republican Or a Democrat.”
Those words prompted me to read this book, at precisely the time as history unfolds in front of us. America has just elected her first black president, a Democrat whose color is not the deciding factor in his outrageous victory.
In God's Politics, Jim Wallis unveils the playing field which ushered in the thin black man on his white horse. The waters were stirring, a storm was brewing, and something was happening in the Repubican party that no one could reign in. Their vision became increasingly narrower, and loyal evangelical voters now focused on two topics, and these "moral values responders simply meant voters who are against abortion and gay marriage.
Wallace cites a poll conducted by Zogby International a week after the 2004 election which asked American voters to choose the most urgent moral problem in America, and 33 percent selected greed and materialism, 31 percent poverty and economic justice, 16 percent abortion, and 12 percent same-sex marriage. They were then asked what they thought was the greatest threat to marriage, and 31 percent said infedility, 25 percent said rising financial burdens, and only 22 percent chose same-sex marriage.
Wallace gathers these facts into a neat package, "... values are now the hot topic in American politics."
The author admits that he clearly disagrees with the Democrats view on abortion but predicts, "Someday, a smart Democrat will figure out how both pro-choice and pro-life people could join together in concrete measures to dramatically reduce the abortion rate by focusing on teen pregnancy, adoption reform, and real support for low-income women."
He also points out that using abortion as the litmus test for choosing a candidate can result in a president who does little about it after he is in office.
Notice that this book was written after the Bush/Kerry election, and much of Wallis' writing focuses on what steps the Democrats could have taken to meet the evangelical needs instead of these voters being forced to choose the only candidate, whether they actually liked him or not, who stood for those two singled-out moral issues.
Wallis writes that he joined a small group of religious leaders to meet with President Bush before he was sworn in to seek his commitment toward a goal for decreasing poverty, especially child poverty in America. The author also admits his support of Bush's faith-based initiative, but two years later a statement signed by 34 Christian leaders concluded that the president had failed the test, which lowered support from these same leaders who had sought his support.
Wallis finally points out, “Without the resources and policies to seriously reduce poverty, the faith-based initiative became words without backing, faith without works.” He concludes that these policy failures “…would have brought the biblical prophets to the White House lawn.”
Priorities instead became misplaced tax cuts mostly to the wealthy, the war in Iraq, homeland security, “… all without the key recognition of how poverty, despair, family instability, and social disintegration undermine our national security.” This, cites Wallace, is an "unbiblical budget,” and further states, "That is a religious issue.”
Jim Wallis ends his book with an epilogue, honoring a young Washington, D.C., African American street organizer, Lisa Sullivan, who died of a heart condition at the age of 40. When Ms. Sullivan heard people complain about the lack of moral leaders in our country today and wonder where the modern Martin Luther Kings were, she would state, "We are the ones we have been waiting for!"
No matter who you voted for in this recent election, this is a worthy book to read.