Executive editor of Sojourners: Catholic bishops "worse than irrelevant"

Sojourners has always been a kind of contrarian magazine in the evangelical world. While its theology is orthodox, its politics are as left as World magazine's are right. But generally the magazine has maintained its evangelical credentials not just through its emphasis on biblicism and evangelism, but also because its social justice values include protection of the unborn.

As such, it represents an important wing of the evangelical Protestantism—though in its social values it sometimes sounds a bit closer to a Roman Catholic magazine.

This week, Sojourners really starts to sound like a Catholic magazine—more of the Commonweal than the Crisis variety—as executive editor David Batstone attacks the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as inconsistent, "narrow-minded," and "worse than irrelevant." In "An open letter to the Catholic bishops," Batstone writes, "You risk stumbling into hypocrisy."

Batstone isn't talking about the clergy-abuse scandal. He's talking about the Iraq war and abortion.

"I am perplexed why you have chosen the abortion issue as a litmus test for 'full communion with the faith of the church,'" Batstone writes.

Sorry to speak so boldly, but you have no basis for so selectively narrowing your rich moral tradition. … We recently have witnessed in the United States a decision and act by our political leaders to pre-emptively invade a sovereign nation-state. The social teaching of the Church explicitly prohibits and condemns such aggressive behavior. Pope John Paul II certainly understands this fact, as he made clear in an audience with President George W. Bush last month. …
I have not heard one U.S. Bishop even suggest ...
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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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