Wallis Apologizes to Olasky after Sojourners Funding Flap
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."
At 3 p.m. Wednesday, Olasky said he had not received Wallis's apology. "I'm always glad to talk with Jim," he said. "It's educational and entertaining." He said that he later received an apology and welcomed it. "I look forward to our conversation on Friday," Olasky said. "It's always good to see Christians following the Matthew 18 pattern."
Olasky published a column in World's July 17 issue asking Wallis to admit his affiliations on the left, reporting that Sojourners receives funding from George Soros's Open Society Institute (OSI). In a later interview with Timothy Dalrymple of Patheos, an interfaith website founded in 2008, Wallis suggested that Olasky was lying and said that Sojourners does not receive funding from Soros.
Wallis said that part of his e-mail to Olasky reads, "I remember getting angry when Dalrymple reported to me that you had said that Sojourners was dependent upon and beholden to Soros on the left," he wrote. "That's no excuse for using such language about a brother in Christ, and I hope you will forgive me."
After his interview with Dalrymple, Wallis released a statement saying that Sojourners has received three grants from OSI.
"I was really tired that day. I did one interview too many. I was in the back of a taxicab. I would normally read an article. And I didn't, and that was a mistake, and I'm sorry for it," said Wallis, who recently returned from vacation. "It is, however, inaccurate to say George Soros is or has ever been a major funder of Sojourners."
Wallis said that Sojourners applied for and received three grants totaling $275,000 from OSI between 2004 and 2007. After consulting with a staff member on the specific dates, Wallis said Sojourners received $200,000 in 2004 that was spent on "broad civic engagement." In 2006, OSI gave Sojourners a branding grant of $25,000 that Wallis said was used to merge the organization Call to Renewal with Sojourners. In 2007, Sojourners received a $100,000 grant for immigration reform, half of which went to another local organization in Los Angeles, he said.
"I have no apologies for taking a donation on immigration reform from Open Society. We'd do it again."
Wallis said that OSI funding made up less than 1 percent of Sojourners' total revenue in the past 10 years and that the organization's books are open.
"We don't give out all of our names. We comply with every legal standard for nonprofits, form 990s and disclosures," he said. "The idea that left-wing foundations are responsible for our funding and we're beholden to them because they're trying to make us vote a certain way, that's a lie."
Olasky says he "buried the lead" by reporting the OSI funding further down in his column, but he stands by his story.
"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 20012002 to $5,283,650 in 20082009—as secular leftists have learned to use the religious left to elect Obama and others."