Is the Center the New Left?


Wallis.jpegYou’ve got to admire the Audacity of Jim. As Ted Olsen over at Christianity Today Politics details in chapter and verse, Wallis of Sojourners has made a career of keeping his distance from the Religious Left–portraying himself, like God, as someone  who stands at the radical center. So now to have a minion send around an email (reproduced after the jump) proclaiming him Presider at “the first big mobilization of the Religious Left in the Obama era…filling the hole created by the decline of the Religious Right but now we have
the political power and ear of the White House”–wow!

Fields.jpegWhile Pastordan is left sputtering, what strikes me is how very like the Religious Right’s this approach to the powers-that-be is. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from an email sent by the then chair of the Christian Christian Coalition, Sadie Fields, to her members after the GOP captured the Georgia state house in 2002.

I received a
call from the Governor’s transition team last week requesting a meeting with
me to discuss and plan how to best implement a pro-family agenda over the
course of his administration. The Governor-elect is very in tune with our
values, and wants to work with us on accomplishing our goals. I will be
meeting with them either this week or the week after to discuss how we can
work together on issues that are important to the pro-family movement in
Georgia. While standing on principle, we must govern wisely and
incrementally, and to that end I will work with the Governor’s office to
ensure that our agenda is reasonable and attainable. It is due to your hard
work and dedication that we have a seat at the table and I am honored to
have been asked by the transition team to be your voice and representative
during this critical time.

It’s a nice question whether the Religious Right, at the state or national level, would have accomplished more had it sallied forth as a grass roots movement rather than as an inside player, but at least it had the choice. Be they lefties or centrists, religious progressives have no movement on the ground that I can see. Maybe they will some day. As of now, the only reasonable facsimile of one is Obama’s.





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wanted to gauge your interest in the first big mobilization of the Religious
Left in the Obama era – a signal of the shift in power dynamics. Sojourners is
mobilizing over a thousand Christian activists and 70 religious and
anti-poverty groups at a conference next week in DC to prepare a new poverty
coalition for legislative battle this year.  This is the Religious Left
filling the hole created by the decline of the Religious Right but now we have
the political power and ear of the White House – definitely a new trend and a
“first” within this new political era.  



  • Monday roundtable discussion on the White House poverty
    agenda with administration officials including Melody Barnes and Josh
  • Heads of World Vision, Oxfam, ONE and Representatives
    Clyburn, Lewis, DeLauro and Pelosi will be speaking/ attending events.
  • Prayer vigil in Upper Senate
    Park with nearly
    1,000 Christians on Tuesday.
  • A lobby day where 800 activists will meet with 82
    Senate offices and 212 House offices to advocate for the budget priorities
    addressing the poor. Specifically, we’ll push for comprehensive healthcare
    reform and for a reversal of the cuts made to the International Affairs
    Budget that affects the funding and work of global NGO’s serving the poor.


schedule and list of speakers:
Register at


let me know if you’re interested and I can line up interviews with speakers.
We’ll be posting audio recordings of the keynotes and panel discussions online.





Jason Gedeik
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