Sunday, July 23, 2006

God's Politics, by Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis is an American evangelical and long time activist. He’s a preacher who’s done time in jail for his beliefs. The fact that he’s an evangelical Christian may put a lot of Australians off. Yet I found that on 95% of the issues Wallis talks about I would vote along side him.

For example, he’s not for gay marriage, but he is pro gay civil unions. This makes sense to me. As long as gay people can get equal rights before the law, they should leave the hot button issue of whether to call it marriage alone. Who cares? Gay people can call their unions marriage or whatever they like. Important thing is practical rights before law. Let’s take incremental steps and grab what we can and then build on it.

On George Bush, Wallis believes he is a sincerely committed Christian, but has gotten things dramatically wrong. He also discusses how Bush uses the language of the Bible for nationalistic purposes, as if the Bible was written expressly for the purposes of American Republican politics. These parts of the book are very interesting where he pulls apart Bush’s speeches and public utterances, showing just where biblical language has been used and exploited for political gain.

In a strange way, this book is a call for more of a separation of church and state. Wallis wants political leaders to stop claiming that they are speaking for God. Wallis says we should be using the Bible as a moral guide. In other words, less certainty about what God thinks, and more of a subservient attitude to the word of God. I guess more skepticism, more self-doubt and less arrogance.

This is a call for a more humbled political scene that takes care of the poor, minorities and – yes – the unborn.

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