Right-wing witch hunt turns to Rev. Wallis

››› ››› MATT MCLAUGHLIN & TODD GREGORY

The right-wing witch hunt against President Obama's advisers has turned to Rev. Jim Wallis, a member of the president's faith council who has worked with numerous conservative and mainstream religious leaders. A WorldNetDaily article uses a series of falsehoods and distortions to portray Wallis as "Obama's new controversial pastor" and a "champion of communism" whose magazine "has published a slew of radicals."

WND and Fox attack Wallis

WND headline: "Not again! Meet Obama's new controversial pastor." The headline and subhead of WorldNetDaily's March 15 article attacking Wallis reads:

Not again! Meet Obama's new controversial pastor

Champion of communism, socialism called U.S. 'destroyer of human life'

WND paints Wallis as a "controversial" figure who is connected to "radicals." The March 15 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein stated:

Rev. Jim Wallis, a member of President Obama's "faith council" who is described as a spiritual adviser to the president, is a socialist activist who has championed communist causes and previously labeled the U.S. "the great captor and destroyer of human life."

[...]

Sojourners has published a slew of radicals, including socialist activist Cornel West and James Cone, considered the founder of Black Liberation Theology, which spawned the likes of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor of nearly 20 years.

[...]

Wallis continues to openly support socialism. Along with socialist activist West, Wallis in 1995 founded Call to Renewal, a coalition of religious groups demanding the spread of U.S. wealth to promote "social justice."

Fox Nation links to WorldNetDaily article attacking Wallis. The Fox News website Fox Nation linked to the WorldNetDaily article, repeating its headline: "Not again! Meet Obama's new controversial pastor." From Fox Nation, accessed March 16:

Mainstream and conservative leaders have worked with Wallis and praised his efforts

Despite the WorldNetDaily article's portrayal of Wallis as a "controversial" figure who is connected to "radicals," mainstream and conservative religious groups have participated in numerous programs with Wallis and have praised his efforts.

Evangelicals for Darfur. Wallis joined a number of religious leaders as "initiating endorsers" of the group Evangelicals for Darfur. Other endorsers included Rich Cizik, vice-president for government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals; Baptist evangelist Tony Campolo; and Joel Hunter, former president of the Christian Coalition of America.

Wallis' group's anti-poverty effort included 100,000 congregations from "wide spectrum" of faiths. Call to Renewal's Covenant to Overcome Poverty included participation of the National Council of Churches, an organization of "faith groups ... from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches" that "includes 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation."

Colson lauded Wallis for "battling for traditional values." Chuck Colson, founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries, listed Wallis among evangelical leaders who are "battling for traditional values." Colson further wrote:

We're defending life, pursuing justice, and caring for the poor. Yes, we're beginning to be more involved in environmental issues, thanks to younger evangelicals reminding us that God commanded us to care for his creation. But we do all of this in God's name--which is what sets the secular media's teeth on edge.

WND attacks Wallis with falsehoods and distortions

WND claims Wallis is a "Champion of communism," but he has called communism a "failed" system. Klein's WorldNetDaily article called Wallis a "Champion of communism" and described him as "a socialist activist who has championed communist causes." But in a 1998 interview for PBS' Reaching Out series, Wallis stated that "[o]ur systems have failed the poor and they have failed the earth. ... [B]oth macrosystems, capitalism and communism, have failed."

WND says Sojourners has published a "slew of radicals"; but Sojourners has published a "slew" of conservatives. Klein wrote that "Sojourners has published a slew of radicals, including socialist activist Cornel West and James Cone, considered the founder of Black Liberation Theology, which spawned the likes of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor of nearly 20 years." However, Sojourners has published a number of articles by prominent conservative religious leaders, including Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and John DiIulio, President Bush's first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Sojourners has also published an extensive interview with former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR).

WND claims Sojourners "urges readers to 'refuse to accept [capitalist] structures.' " From the March 15 WorldNetDaily article:

Sojourners' official "statement of faith" urges readers to "refuse to accept [capitalist] structures and assumptions that normalize poverty and segregate the world by class."

But actual text of statement doesn't even mention capitalism. The language that WorldNetDaily quotes is apparently taken from a statement that no longer appears on the Sojourners website. The statement, retrieved from a 2004 version of the site saved in the Internet Archive, contains a preface that reads, in part: "Members of Sojourners Community in Washington, D.C., wrote this 20th anniversary statement of faith in August 1991." The unaltered text of the passage reads:

We believe in binding up the divisions that the world often creates, especially those based on race, class, gender, or culture. We are called to combat racism in all its forms and to build a more just and pluralistic society where diversity is respected, freedom is secured, and power is shared. We refuse to accept structures and assumptions that normalize poverty and segregate the world by class. We are committed to resisting sexism in all its forms and affirming the integrity and equality of women and men both in the church and in the world.

The word "capitalist" does not appear in the entirety of the statement, nor does the word "capitalism." WorldNetDaily did not explain why it added "capitalist" in brackets.

Network/Outlet
WorldNetDaily, Fox Nation
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