One of President Obama’s chief spiritual advisers is Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, a liberal Christian community in the D.C. area. He has now likened helping the Occupy Wall Street protesters to siding with Jesus.
The Sojourners organization publishes a magazine that I used to subscribe to for about a year when I was at Wheaton Graduate School in the late 1970s.
Looking back at it, that subscription reminds me of Winston Churchill’s maxim that if you’re not a liberal in your twenties, you have no heart. But if you’re not a conservative by your forties, you have no brain.
A year of the magazine was about all I could take. I realized after a while that they never said anything good about the United States.
Then it dawned on me one day — wow, they never seem to criticize the Soviet Union, which was very much a threat to the whole world in those days.
They were constantly carping against Jimmy Carter, with criticisms from the left. I never bothered to see what they said when Ronald Reagan ascended to the presidency. But I’m sure they went apoplectic.
The strange thing is that every left-wing cause they promoted was done in the name of Jesus Christ.
Now, Rev. Wallis has spoken out about the Occupy Wall Street protesters, saying that they are siding with Jesus on behalf of the poor. Therefore, if you’re really going to be a follower of Christ, bring them a casserole or a pizza (which he calls a “peace-za”).
Wallis said, “The occupiers’ desire for change and willingness to take action to do something about it should be an inspiration to us all.”
He views them as standing for the poor and hungry. Therefore, they stand with Jesus. Wallis says, “When they talk about holding banks and corporations accountable, they sound like Jesus and the biblical prophets before him who all spoke about holding the wealthy and powerful accountable.”
Certainly, there is no justification for back-room deals — from both sides of the aisle — whereby some Wall Street tycoons have gotten rich (off of we the taxpayers) through crony capitalism.
And certainly, the Bible speaks about justice and caring for the underdog.
But is Rev. Wallis watching the same videos I am of these protesters?
They seem to me like adolescents who never grew up. They strike me as parasitical, in the sense that they seem to be unable to make it. They basically derive their substance from the labor of others. Can’t our colleges do a better job of preparing young people for the workforce these days?
In a fascinating video from the Occupy Atlanta protest, the progressives in the group (which seem to play an elaborate game of “Simon Says,” as a form of democracy) essentially bar the liberal Congressman John Lewis, long time civil rights advocate, from speaking to the group. What? Is he too conservative for them?
Then there’s the Occupy LA spokesman who was advocating French Revolution-type violence.
On top of that, the Occupy Wall Street movement has a computer-hacker group, which calls itself Anonymous, spurring on the protests. In their Internet threat videos, always with a computer voice, they say near the close, “We are legion.”
Anyone familiar with the Gospels knows that Jesus exorcised a demon-possessed man, and when the Lord asked, “What is your name?” the demons replied, “We are legion — for we are many.” It’s perhaps no coincidence that Anonymous signs off with that phrase.
The Bible certainly teaches an ethic to help the needy, especially the family-less. There’s a Scriptural phrase for that: “The widow and the orphan.”
The Bible also says that if a man will not provide for his own household, he has denied the faith. It doesn’t say if he cannot, but if he will not. After all, sloth is one of the seven deadly sins (as are greed and envy).
But the group Rev. Wallis claims represents Jesus appears to be composed of able-bodied misfits or 21st-century hippies.
I wonder if many of these protesters have simply given up on looking for jobs.
Granted, it’s a tough economy. But there are still jobs to be had for those who seek them. Meanwhile, Christian charities through various churches do a tremendous job to help those in need.
Around 1700, when the Puritans ran things in Massachusetts, there was a man from London who stayed in the colony for several years. He stated: “I have lived in a country where in seven years I never saw a beggar, nor heard an oath [a cuss word], nor looked upon a drunkard.”
For all their faults, like the Salem witchcraft hysteria, the Puritans instilled a strong work ethic that in some ways is still with us today.
The historical success of Wall Street is related to the Christian work ethic, to which the Puritans made a great contribution. Based on their applying the Bible to labor, they taught that we should work hard (fulfilling our calling), delay gratification, save, invest and re-invest, and give to those in need. To see the same principles presented basically without religion, just read Ben Franklin’s timeless book of maxims, Poor Richard’s Almanack.
I agree with Rev. Wallis’ point that imitating Jesus includes standing with the poor and needy. But, sorry, I don’t see how standing with the Occupy Wall Street folks fits that category.
Jerry Newcombe, D. Min., is the senior producer and host of Truth that Transforms with D. James Kennedy (formerly The Coral Ridge Hour). He has also written or co-written 21 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation. Jerry coauthored with Dr. Peter Lillback the bestselling George Washington’s Sacred Fire.
Publication date: October 18, 2011