Jim Wallis is a New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He served on President Obama's White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and was former vice chair of and currently serves on the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum.
Jim is the author of 12 books. His most recent book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, was released in January 2016. His other books include: On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned About Serving the Common Good, Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery; The Great Awakening:Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America; and God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.
He is president and founder of Sojourners, where he is also editor-in-chief of Sojourners, which has a combined print and online readership of more than 5 million people. Jim frequently speaks in the United States and abroad. His columns appear in major newspapers, including The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. He frequently appears on radio and television as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, Fox—on shows such as Meet the Press and Hardball—and on National Public Radio. He has taught at Harvard University, Georgetown University, and a variety of other academic institutions.
Jim was raised in a Midwest evangelical family. As a teenager, his questioning of the racial segregation in his church and community led him to the black churches and neighborhoods of inner-city Detroit. He spent his student years involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements. Jim founded Sojourners while a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois. Jim and several other students started a small magazine and community with a Christian commitment to social justice. More than 40 years later, Sojourners has grown into a national faith-based organization. In 1979, Time magazine named Wallis one of the "50 Faces for America's Future."
Jim lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Joy Carroll, one of the first women ordained in the Church of England and author of Beneath the Cassock: The Real-Life Vicar of Dibley, and their young sons, Luke and Jack. He was a Little League baseball coach for 11 years — 22 seasons.
Authors Jim Wallis and Eddie Glaude Jr. join Morning Joe to discuss the water crisis in Flint and how racial geography impacts the country.
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How does faith inform public debates on social justice in U.S. politics? How should religious leaders and politicians engage the political process while maintaining their moral witness? Since the fall of 2011, Jim Wallis has been addressing these questions in a course he teaches at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. He leads the class through a series of topics that intersect religion, society, and politics. Sojourners and the Berkley Center have now made this course available online through video recordings and course packets.
The (Un)common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided
Jim Wallis thinks our life together can be better. In this timely and provocative book, he shows us how to reclaim Jesus' ancient and compelling vision of the common good — a vision that impacts and inspires not only our politics but also our personal lives, families, churches, neighborhoods, and world. The (Un)Common Good is the revised and updated paperback edition of On God's Side and includes a new preface.
On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good
On God's Side examines the deepest problems this world faces. What we need is a commitment to an ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good. How do we work together, even with people we don’t agree with? How do we treat each other, especially the poorest and most vulnerable? How do we take care of not just ourselves, but also one another? Wallis tackles these questions and more in this challenging, yet hopeful book.
The Great Awakening: Seven Ways to Change the World
What would it take to change the world? What would it take to end extreme poverty, to address climate change, to create peace? For too long, a narrow religious agenda has been used like a wedge to divide people. But a wider and deeper vision of faith and values is emerging. It's a renewal of faith – a great awakening – that combines personal faith with social justice. A new social movement is on the rise. The Great Awakening is upon us.
God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
God's Politics offers a clarion call to make both our religious communities and our government more accountable to key values of the prophetic religious tradition. Our biblical faith and religious traditions simply do not allow us as a nation to continue to ignore the poor and marginalized, deny racial justice, tolerate the ravages of war, or turn away from the human rights of those made in the image of God. These are the values of love and justice, reconciliation, and community that Jesus taught and that are at the core of what many of us believe, Christian or not.
Faith Works: How Faith-based Organizations are Changing Lives, Neighborhoods, and America
"In Faith Works, Jim Wallis has woven together a detailed road map for those interested in loosening the chains of social injustice. This book is a powerful resource for change!" Millard Fuller, Founder and President, Habitat for Humanity International
The Soul of Politics: Beyond 'Religious Right' and 'Secular Left'
Jim Wallis responds to signs of cultural breakdown and political impasse with a resounding and highly moving call to reintegrate politics and spirituality - a call for a new political morality combining social justice with personal responsibility.
The Call to Conversion: Recovering the Gospel for These Times
Jim Wallis explores Jesus' call to God's community and away from worldly standards, the churches' betrayal of the call, and the possibilities for a new response.
Posts By This Author
'I Believe You': Church Leaders Respond to Survivors
On Thursday Dr. Christine Blasey Ford recounted her experience of sexual assault before a committee comprising mostly older white men. Women and other victims of abuse held their collective breath. The details were familiar. The resulting trauma — anxiety, fear of flying, claustrophobia — resonated. Survivors listened — and they recalled their worst experiences.
In the Midst of a Political Emergency
The revelations at the end of the summer from journalist Bob Woodward and from the anonymous administration official writing in The New York Times provided more evidence, as if more were needed, of the unhinged, immoral, chaotic, and deeply corrupt nature of the president and his administration. They also underscored the absolute necessity of creating and bolstering whatever checks and balances are possible to this administration’s power—not merely because of political exigency, which is dire enough to fairly name it as a constitutional crisis, but because the integrity of our faith is at stake as well.
While I’m convinced that the very soul of our nation is under threat by this administration and its actions, it’s not just policy or even character issues per se that have brought us to this point—as important as they are. Those issues include racial bigotry that overtly denies the image of God in all people; the denial and destruction of truth itself; a reversal of Jesus’ leadership values of service over domination; our unity in Christ as opposed to oppression based on race, gender, and class; whether we put “America first” or affirm the global character of our faith and relationships; and the real danger of growing autocracy and authoritarian rule over our democracy.
The moral corruption of this administration is staggering and presents increasing danger to the health of our society and the institutional balances of our republic. On top of all that, because of the Faustian bargain he has made with many white evangelicals, the Trump era has also created a defining moment for people of faith, not only a constitutional crisis but also a crisis of conscience. For Christians, that raises the stakes even beyond what they would be if this were “only” about a political catastrophe.
I saw three funerals last week; I went to two and watched the other one on television. For me, they all had lessons and questions for America’s future. The best funeral services are not only about past, but also about the future.
Signs of Hope for Bipartisanship
In a time when bipartisanship seems like a forgotten dream, it is important for us to find and celebrate cases of lawmakers coming together, regardless of party and ideology, to address the many real and immediate challenges we face as a country. Especially on issues of importance to the faith community, we should encourage bipartisan cooperation that seeks justice and mercy for families, communities, and those otherwise marginalized across our nation. Recently, there have been two steps forward on this front, especially with regard to the work that Sojourners has been doing on immigration, poverty, and racism.
A Combination of Cruelty and Ineptitude
THIS SUMMER, people were filled with righteous anger about the separation of children from their families at the southern U.S. border. The crisis sparked a critical mass of outrage about the Trump administration’s inhumane policy, especially when audio surfaced of separated children crying desperately for their parents. The press, a few members of Congress, and other elected leaders did heroic work in exposing the horrific human toll of these policies.
In the weeks the family separation policy was in place, more than 2,300 children were separated from their parents. Reuniting these children with their families will take months. Some of these children may never be reunited with parents—meaning they effectively have been made orphans by this administration’s combination of cruelty and ineptitude.
Make no mistake: This was not merely an accidental byproduct of a convoluted and broken immigration system that is long overdue for comprehensive, just, and compassionate reform. Family separation was the direct consequence of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrants, some of whom were following the legal path of pursuing asylum. Administration officials argued that forcibly separating children from their parents was acceptable because it would be a “deterrent” to families seeking to enter the United States without proper authorization.
Helsinki Was … Clarifying
Trump is more than a liar. He has always tried to change what people believe about the truth.
Two Things We Can Do to Help Reunite Families
It is time for people of faith and conscience to demand nothing less than an immediate and complete reunification of separated families — and demonstrate our willingness to play a role in this process. We have spoken out to stop the separation, but we still have the moral imperative to fix it for those who have been torn from their parents. I have recently been in meetings with bipartisan groups of senators who want to see this issue fixed, who care very deeply about finding lasting solutions, and who are asking for the help of the faith community.
The Scandal of Voter Suppression
IN 2016, VOTERS faced extensive efforts to make voting more difficult, particularly for people of color and those who are poor. These efforts at voter suppression occurred as a result of GOP gains in governors’ races and state legislatures while Barack Obama was president—and also as a result of the Supreme Court gutting a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
Between those two factors, 23 states—including some key battlegrounds in the presidential election—had new voter restrictions in place for the 2016 election. Examples include laws that eliminated polling places or moved them to less accessible locations, reduced polling hours, tightened voter-ID requirements, “purged” voter rolls, and reduced early voting and Sunday voting, which are popular among minority voters in certain regions.
As we approach the 2018 midterms, we need to protect the right to vote for citizens of all races, economic levels, and political persuasions. This is an imago dei issue: If we believe that all human beings are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), then efforts to prevent some of God’s children from exercising their franchise must be opposed as a matter of fidelity to our faith. It’s also a Matthew 25 issue: If we believe that how we treat people living in poverty and those who have been caught up in the system of mass incarceration is how we treat Christ himself, then we have a clear Christian mandate to ensure that society’s most vulnerable can exercise the right to vote.
In-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare, to the tune of only 31 documented cases out of 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014. To put it another way, the odds that any given person will attempt in-person voter fraud are something like 1 in 32 million, significantly lower than the odds of being struck by lightning. Twice.
The Court’s Ruling on Trump’s Travel Ban Is Legally Endorsed Religious Discrimination
In a way, it's a cruel joke that the majority used yesterday's decision to officially overturn the Korematsu v. United States decision of 1944 that upheld the government's right to intern Japanese Americans in concentration camps. While this was a welcome and long-overdue step, it's also a way for the conservative majority to attempt to wash its hands, Pilate-like, of the consequences of asserting that current and future presidents have the power to keep members of a disfavored group out of the country if they simply massage the language of their executive orders and proclamations sufficiently. As Justice Sotomayor argued in her dissent, it "merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another." It's a slippery slope that risks pointing us backwards towards our shameful past, in which the high court long upheld the constitutionality of slavery, Jim Crow laws, the Chinese Exclusion Act, many grievous harms to Native American people and communities, and other horrors, all of which we rightfully recognize today as counter to the principles of the Constitution and the tenets of Christian faith.
Abusing Scripture to Justify Abusing Migrant Children and Their Families
Let’s be clear: All Trump did was decide to detain families together in prison camps going forward, and there is no clear plan yet to re-unify the more than 2,300 children who have already been orphaned and sent away from their parents under his administration’s cruel policy. Those separations could be forever if the enormous task of reunification is not carefully undertaken.