Jim Wallis wants you to know he's not a liberal. Yes, he's been a chief critic of the Religious Right since its inception, gave the Democratic weekly radio address after the 2006 midterm elections, and has been an often-controversial voice for social justice since his early-'70s days at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. But, he says, his chief critics these days are liberals, not conservatives. "There is a Religious Left in this country, and I'm not a part of it," Wallis said when he stopped by Christianity Today's offices during his February tour for his latest book, The Great Awakening. Meanwhile, he says, theologically conservative evangelicals (especially young ones) are flocking to his message and are "deserting the Religious Right in droves" because it attempted to "restrict the language of 'moral values' to just two issuesabortion and gay marriage."
"For years I have been called a progressive evangelical, but people said that was a misnomer," says Wallis, who turns 60 in June. "The misnomer is becoming a movement."
The Great Awakening is full of prescriptions on the broader social agenda: poverty, genocide in Darfur, global warming, the Iraq war, and other issues widely covered in Wallis's Sojourners magazine and his previous books. But The Great Awakening contains public-policy positions Wallis promotes less often: abortion and gay marriage, those two pillars of the Religious Right. He discussed these issues, and others, in further detail with CT's editors.
You repeatedly cite William Wilberforce as someone who did Christian political engagement right. But aren't your views on abortion"protecting unborn life in every possible way, but without criminalizing abortion"fundamentally at odds with Wilberforce's ...