Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wallis and the Tea Party Infidels

In account of a recent writing project, I have been forced to pay attention to left wing Evangelicalism. Others also have been giving them new attention, from the Emerging church movement to save-the-planet young born again greenies to the religiously oriented in the Obama White House.

But Jim Wallis, one of the grand old men of the movement, seems anxious that Christ's little lambs not wander into what he sees as the hellish Tea Party movement, especially now that the pearly gates of access to his Progressive Kingdom are now flung wide. He gave voice to his frustration in his Huffington Post article, "How Christian is Tea Party Libertarianism?" I examine it in my column, "The Tea Party According to Jim Wallis."

To what I say at WORLDmag, I will add that he attacks the rights-oriented thinking that is the basis of our constitution. “Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds individual rights as its supreme value and considers government the major obstacle.” But, of course, that’s what rights are: limitations on government. “Congress shall make no law…”

Especially disturbing is his charge that Tea Party supporters are racists in general, and in particular people who simply cannot abide the fact that our president is black. In lieu of actually engaging in a substantive debate over the merits of big government versus private initiative, the left is scolding their opponents with the racist charge. But the charge is baseless. A month later, a USA Today/Gallup poll showed that 23% of Tea Party supporters are Asian, Hispanic, and African-American.

But what if they weren’t? The best argument he can lob at the Tea Party itself is an ad hominem one, i.e., not an argument at all. The red elephant in the room, however, the subject he completely ignores, is the Tea Party alarm over stratospheric federal deficit spending, a concern that is reasonable, arguably Christian (eighth commandment), and fundamental to the movement.

I conclude,

Despite Jim Wallis’s self-presentation as a man who has thought through Christian principles and found himself in prophetic stance against what most Evangelicals hold to be just, his condemnation of the Tea Party movement (disguised as a conversation starter) is a muddled-headed confusion of terms and a battle entirely with straw men. I was hoping to be challenged. I was not.

Additional material:

Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy looks at the article here.

Timothy Dalrymple at Patheos gives us this.

Doug Wilson has not been silent. (That's a joke.) He weighs in here.

Prof. Craig Carter of Tyndale University in Toronto says this.

In a recent Washington Times article, "Netherlands Tragedy of State Compassion,"I argue that compassionate government (as if that were possible) makes people themselves less compassionate.

You might also consider Grover Norquist's book, Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives," (Harper Collins, 2008).


Anthony Bradley sees politically activist liberal Protestantism, with which leftist Evangelicalism seems to blend so easily, as understanding "one part of Christian engagement to be the whole of Christian identity," ("Progressive Christianity,", July 21, 2010).

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