Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wallis Apologizes; Critics Keep the Heat on Regarding the Funding of Sojourners

Christianity Today is reporting that Jim Wallis has now admitted he was wrong and Marvin Olasky was right and that Wallis has now apologized to Olasky:

Sojourners founder Jim Wallis apologized Wednesday to Marvin Olasky for saying, "Glenn Beck lies for a living. I'm sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing."

Wallis told Christianity Today that he sent a private e-mail to Olasky and plans to speak with the editor-in-chief of World Magazine by phone on Friday.

"I was wrong, out of anger at the insinuation about the dependence on these foundations, I was wrong to imply that like Beck, Marvin lies for a living," Wallis said. "Glenn Beck does lie for a living. Marvin Olasky doesn't lie for a living; that's not something I should say about a brother in Christ."

There are some troubling things about this apology, however. While it is encouraging that Wallis has now conceded that Olasky was speaking truthfully all along, it is not edifying to see someone who likes to be known as "Rev." Wallis using such aggressive and mean language about Glenn Beck. If he catches Beck in a lie, by all means point it out. But this hateful rhetoric is not becoming to someone who constantly claims he is trying to start a "conversation."

Beyond this, there is also the problem that Wallis continues to underplay the significance of his "Christian" and "non-partisan" organization being funded by secular and left-wing foundations - as if these non-Christian foundations just wanted to advance biblical teaching above all other priorities. The Christianity Today article quotes Olasky as follows:

"George Soros, one of the leading billionaire leftists—he has financed groups promoting abortion, atheism, same-sex marriage, and gargantuan government—bankrolled Sojourners with a $200,000 grant in 2004," Olasky wrote in his original column. "Since then Sojourners has received at least two more grants from Soros organizations. Sojourners revenues have more than tripled—from $1,601,171 in 2001–2002 to $5,283,650 in 2008–2009—as secular leftists have learned to use the religious left to elect Obama and others."
Jay Richards, in an article entitled "Soros Funding of Sojourners is Only the Tip of the Iceberg" in the National Review Online, explains why Wallis is still not being completely up front:

The “clarification” of his earlier statement is equally unsatisfying. First, Wallis is still trying to claim that his organization transcends the Manichean political divide of left and right. They just do “biblical social justice,” he insists. But again, as I show in much more detail elsewhere, Wallis and Sojourners regularly couple strained, narrow readings of scriptural texts and a vaguely Marxist economic foundation to arrive at political and economic positions that are well left of center and far afield of a far more nuanced charity and justice tradition stretching back through almost 2,000 years of orthodox Christian thought.

Second, it’s implausible for Wallis to claim that grants between 2004 and 2007 totaling $325,000 are “the tiniest fraction” of Sojourners’ funding. Worse, the three grants from Soros’s Open Society Institute are only the tip of the iceberg. Based on publicly-available 990s, I’ve discovered that Sojourners received at least forty-nine separate foundation grants between 2003 and 2009, totaling $2,159,346. Not one of these is from a discernibly conservative foundation. Very few are from discernibly Christian foundations.

Besides the Soros grants, for instance, there are two 2006 grants from the infamous Tides Foundation totaling $72,106; a Ford Foundation grant in 2008 for $100,000; a Rockefeller Brothers Fund grant for $100,000 in 2005; and a $50,000 grant from the Wallace Global Fund in 2008. The Wallace Global Fund also supports ACORN and a cornucopia of population-control groups.

Three grants, totaling $20,000 between 2005 and 2007, are from the Streisand Foundation in California. Yes, that Streisand foundation. (That’s just funny.) Other recipients of Streisand philanthropy include People for the American Way and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. This is very left-wing company.

Apparently Wallis thinks the range from left to far left represents a “broad spectrum.”

Of course, $2,159,346 is not the total budget of Sojourners for the years in question. Does that mean that the remainder of Sojourners’ budget comes from readers of Sojourners magazine? Not at all. You see, this figure is drawn from public 990s of charitable foundations, which have to report such grants because they have minimum giving requirements. But savvy donors, such as George Soros, have a variety of ways to donate to causes. Private, non-foundation grants don’t have to be released publicly, as long as they don’t make up a large percentage of an organization’s operating budget in a given year. So the $2,159,346 is the floor and not the ceiling on left-wing funding of Sojourners. There’s no easy way of knowing how much they receive from these and other like-minded donors outside the ordinary foundation channels, unless Sojourners decides to release that information. (Wallis has said their books are open, but I’m not holding my breath.)

To be clear, I am not saying that because the Streisand Foundation gives to both Sojourners and Planned Parenthood, Sojourners secretly supports Planned Parenthood. I am saying it is dishonest for Wallis to keep claiming he’s above the political fray. You don’t have to be keen-witted to figure out that Sojourners is overwhelmingly a left-wing operation, optimized to brand left-wing ideas for Christians, ideologically moored on the left, and funded to a significant degree by secular, left-wing donors with little interest in the health of the church. Certainly this fact is apparent to the trustees and officers of many left-wing foundations.

Richards is right. Jim Wallis has become a creature of the secular left and has forfeited all right to speak for Evangelicals. He attends an Episcopalian church, has embraced sexual heresy, and is completely sold out to socialism. He distorts Scripture and places it into the partisan service of the Democratic Party.

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