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God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It

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New York Times bestseller God's Politics struck a chord with Americans disenchanted with how the Right had co-opted all talk about integrating religious values into our politics, and with the Left, who were mute on the subject. Jim Wallis argues that America's separation of church and state does not require banishing moral and religious values from the public square. God's Politics offers a vision for how to convert spiritual values into real social change and has started a grassroots movement to hold our political leaders accountable by incorporating our deepest convictions about war, poverty, racism, abortion, capital punishment, and other moral issues into our nation's public life. Who can change the political wind? Only we can.

399 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2005

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About the author

Jim Wallis

73 books148 followers
JIM WALLIS is a globally respected writer, teacher, preacher, justice advocate, regular international commentator on ethics and public life, and mentor for a new generation. He is a New York Times bestselling author of twelve books, including Christ in Crisis, America's Original Sin, God's Politics and The Great Awakening. Wallis is the Founder of Sojourners. He served on President Obama's White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and has taught faith and public life courses at Harvard and Georgetown University. "Coach Jim" also served for 22 seasons as a Little League coach for his two baseball playing sons.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 295 reviews
Profile Image for Katey.
Author 3 books24 followers
August 2, 2007
Will the real progressive religious left please stand up? I cannot consider Jim Wallis a true religious progressive when he won't stand up for women's rights and lgbtq people. He wants to say that abortion and gay marriage are "moral issues" and that responding to poverty is the "real" heart of the gospel. What he fails to recognize is that abortion is an economic justice issue. Poor women are 3 times as likely to have an abortion, and because of the Hyde amendment and lack of federal funding, they often have to wait until the second trimester to raise enough money--which means more invasive, risky procedures and more costs to the women.
Profile Image for Scott Rhee.
1,843 reviews68 followers
November 10, 2015
Conservatives (and by that I generally mean Republicans) like to think that they have a monopoly on Christian moral values. Conversely, liberals (i.e. Democrats) believe that they are the more rational and level-headed, owing to their more secularist views. Neither, of course, are correct or viable mindsets.

Personal experience has led me to the conclusion that rationality and logic can be found in both politics and religion. Such rationality is, unfortunately, difficult to unearth because it is buried beneath a pile of loud-mouthed craziness from both the Right and the Left. It requires a lot of digging.

Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical Christian political activist (I know... let that simmer in the brain for a minute or two...) and editor/founder of Sojourners magazine, has been digging in the religio-poltical dirt for many years. A strong voice for the Christian Left, Wallis has been an advocate for many social justice issues, including poverty, war, gay rights, and the pro-life movement.

While I don’t subscribe to everything that Wallis promotes, his liberal views and his strong adherence to Christian teachings has often instilled me with a renewed faith in humanity.

Wallis helped me to see that it’s possible to be a Christian AND a liberal.

I know that sounds weird to say, but there was honestly a point in my life when I felt that I could only be one or the other, that I had to make a choice between the two, and my choice would ultimately be a betrayal to the other half of my self. One shouldn’t be made to feel this way, and yet many people do.

Part of the problem is cultural.

In Wallis’s book, “God’s Politics”, Wallis writes in his introduction that “God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat.” which, for some, may seem like a “DUH!” statement.

It wasn’t for me, though.

I had been one of those dupes led to believe, incorrectly, that Republicans weren’t just on the side of the Right; they were also on the side of the right, as in, “correct”. This was due in no small way to my religious indoctrination.

I was what is referred to as a “born-again” Christian. Rather than going into a lengthy explanation and testimony, I’ll simply say that I went from being an atheist to giving my life to Jesus Christ by professing that He is my Lord and Savior. Obviously, there’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the basic gist.

When I became a Christian, almost everyone I knew was a Republican. Everyone at my church was Republican, and the few that I suspected weren’t kept their political views to themselves.

At the time, politics wasn’t that important to me anyway, I’ll admit. I was kind of still basking in the afterglow of my new life in Christ, so I didn’t really give a shit what anyone’s political views were. We were all just shiny, happy people.

Eventually, though, the honeyglow began to fade. Reality seeped in. Then, George W. Bush happened.

I never liked W.

From the first time I saw his Texan “good ol’ boy” face (which reminded me disturbingly of MAD Magazine’s Alfred E. Newman), I couldn’t stand him. I didn’t hate the guy: he was a Christian, after all, and a seemingly devout one. He was also a seemingly good family man. I just didn’t like him.

I wasn’t supposed to dislike him, though. That was pretty much the unspoken rule among my predominantly Christian friends. (I had non-Christian friends, too, but I let some of these friendships lapse as I felt like I wasn’t really supposed to like them, either. Love them, yes. And I prayed for them, and their unsaved souls, of course. But I just couldn’t “hang out” with them anymore. I was in a new clique. The popular kids. Oops, I mean Christian kids.)

Even after his pathetic performance during the presidential debates, even after his inauguration, even after 9/11: I still harbored a strong dislike for the guy. He was smarmy, hickish, and disingenuous, but I couldn’t articluate any of that to any of my friends.

It was right around the time that initial buzzings about going to war with Iraq started to happen that I noticed it: I was beginning to seriously doubt my faith. Part of the problem was that everywhere I looked, people seemed to be too accepting of the clearly outrageous bullshit being espoused by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfled, et al. And, by “people” I mean “Christians”.

Why was it that I could see that the stuff they were saying just wasn’t adding up but nobody else could? Of course, it wasn’t just me. Many people were criticizing the President and alluding to the possibility that the Bush Administration was misleading the general public through misinformation and outright fabrications simply to garner support for war. These people, unfortunately, were “liberals”. Most of my friends rarely used the word themselves but when they did, it was dripping with vitriol and disgust. I was a liberal sympathizer. I and my fellow Christian friends with liberal views kept quiet.

Many other people bit their tongue, too, because they didn’t want to be perceived as rocking the boat. After all, Bush himself said that if you weren’t for him, you were against him. Which is fucked up, of course, but even more fucked up was the fact that I bought it. Because he was a “Christian”.

It was a downward spiral after that. I’m not going to lie or exaggerate: eight years of the Bush Administration killed my religion and faith.

It’s unfortunate that I spent so long feeling angry and upset and saddened that I couldn’t be both a Christian and a liberal. I probably said a lot of hurtful things (unintentionally, but that’s small comfort) to some of my Christian friends. For that, I am sorry.

Thankfully, Jim Wallis happened.

I picked up a Wallis book at the recommendation of a friend, who happened to be a Catholic and somewhat liberal in his views. I wasn’t expecting much, but I did read it.

Wallis’s words rekindled something inside me, something I thought I lost forever.

He helped me to realize that I could be true to both sides of myself---my Christianity and my liberalism---and still have a vibrant faith.

I can’t say that my faith is that vibrant. It’s been a long road back to feeling okay about calling myself a Christian again, and I know that I have a long way more to go, but I haven’t given up the soul-searching, and that’s in large part due to Wallis.

“God’s Politics” was written in 2005, and I wish that I had read it then, because my crisis of faith was probably at its peak during that time.

Wallis writes at length about the Iraq War. An ardent pacifist, Wallis’s indictment of the Bush Administration is powerful. From a biblical and legal standpoint, Wallis makes a clear case that the Iraq War was, in every possible way, immoral, unjust, and illegal.

I’m sure many conservatives would read Wallis’s indictment of Bush as more liberal whining and Bush-bashing. That’s unfortunate, because they won’t get the point.

The main point of Wallis’s book is that it’s okay to marry politics and religion. The separation of church and state doesn’t mean that politicians can’t be religious or use their religion to help guide their decisions. Wallis is simply saying that there is a danger in using religion to implement and justify bad policy.

I’ll be honest: “God’s Politics” kind of fizzles out for me near the end. It ends up being a disjointed, unfocused series of essays and sermons on a wide variety of topics. Not that they aren’t readable and full of useful information and guidance, it’s just that Wallis seems unsure of how to end the book.

The first part of the book, however, in which Wallis talks about the two issues he is most passionate about---poverty and war---is eye-opening and important. It is especially so due to Wallis’s contention (well-supported by Scripture and science) that the two are inextricably linked.

Paraphrasing quotes from Pope Paul VI and from the Book of Micah, Wallis contends that “the possibilities for peace, for avoiding war, depend upon everyone having enough for their own security... (p.191)”

His contentions aren’t all that shocking, but in a culture in which the poor are constantly vilified by the wealthy, where politicians continue to make policies that favor the rich and hurt the poor, and where so-called “Christian” men and women vote to increase military spending while cutting programs that are designed to help the needy, his views almost seem revolutionary.
Profile Image for Stephanie "Jedigal".
580 reviews41 followers
December 4, 2007
Not a Christian myself, I was nevertheless attracted by the title. Having long been fed up by my perception over the years of the increased failure by politicians to make moral decisions when legislating, my "to be read" shelves are becoming populated with political commentary. This is one of the first I chose to read.

The main thrust of the book is that
-- Christ advocated the use of government to address social issues, such as poverty;
-- the Religious Right has allied itself with the party least likely to offer serious relief of either the symptoms or causes of poverty;
-- both Democrats and Republicans are coalitions of certain groups, and neither party exhibits a consistent moral philosophy;
-- Christian ministers should discuss and promote political actions consistent with Jesus' ministry, as they have been a primary source for change in the past (witness the civil rights movement, and other church-based activity in our history).

Unfortunately, there was little to offer a non-Christian. The author acknowledges that Christians do not have a monopoly on morality, however the basis of each of his arguments is in Christian scripture, and he fails to discuss any other moral or spiritual justifications for those arguments. My biggest problem with the book is that it offers no solutions the average citizen can take to bring God or morality into politics. This lengthy sermon seems aimed at other Christian ministers. Even for them, it is weak on concrete action points.

Additional failures are:
1) The author does come off as too prideful. This book is a great testament to all he has done to further his causes.

2) Much of the power of what the author offers is diluted by the repetition throughout. Wallis states and restates many points time and time again. This book could have been much more concise and to the point (something that could be said about much of my own writing... hehe), maybe 1/3 or 1/4 the length.

3) He makes some seriously startling accusations about the balance of political power in this country. I think many of his accusations are plausible, but he fails to provide good evidence for them. He then proceeds directly to what is wrong with the behavior of those he has mentally tried and found guilty, and what the moral choice would have been.
Profile Image for Gilee.
29 reviews
January 4, 2008
This was one of the great disappointments of my late 20's. This book.
The beginning was intriguing...what? you mean to tell me that there's others out there like me? who believe that Jesus was a radical and we Christians should be helping the poor? and that these fringe issues the Religious Right gets into are really vehicles to control the masses and rarely actually advocate for Biblically-based directives? that, in fact, if you get down to the main platforms of Christianity, no one in our political sphere is doing an even decent job?
huh. this is going to change the way we all think about Christianity! this is what i thought.
Wow! it's about time!
and then.....
then came the Bush-bashing.
and then some more.
and then all of the sudden i realized, this was just another liberal book cleverly disguised as religious revolution.

don't get me wrong, i get into some Bush-bashing just like every other decent American, but please. don't insult the reader's intelligence by masking your own personal vendetta against Bush in the name of the Bible.

i give the book irony props.
Profile Image for Amanda.
250 reviews56 followers
May 27, 2012
For content, this book would have gotten five stars, but it loses a star for its writing quality. This book is so very repetitive that it becomes an annoyance. The author has a few favorite phrases he likes to use over and over again (such as describing Martin Luther King, Jr. with "a Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other"), as well as statistics he likes to constantly remind the reader about (such as thirteen million homeless children in this country). These statements, while initially impressive, lose their impact after being used over and over again. Additionally, he has a habit of repeating almost whole paragraphs from chapter to chapter. This becomes a distraction as well as a source of frustration, and at times detracts from the message.

As for its content, this book is a welcome voice for moderate independents in the political arena. Christians who feel strongly about moral consistency in politics often do not have a party to relate to, since both the Republican and Democrat parties are fraught with glaring inconsistencies. For example, a Christian who is committed to non-violence and believes that all lives are sacred in the eyes of God (Job 31:15) takes a firm stance against both abortion and capital punishment. Such a Christian is not welcome in either party, as Democrats are pro-abortion (under the guise of women's rights) and Republicans are pro-death penalty (under the eyes of doing justice and/or protecting the innocent). The answer to some of the most difficult and painful questions in our culture appears to be death -- death by human hands. But what if there is another way? Jim Wallis suggests some real solutions and compelling arguments for adoption reform, support of single mothers, and criminal justice that would lower and potentially eliminate the need to do violence against other human beings.

Mr. Wallis also addresses issues such as war (particularly pre-emptive war), lowering the poverty rate worldwide, improving educational opportunities across all economic classes, and fairness to homosexual couples. All of these social issues go much, much deeper than a simple "yes" or "no" on either side and require real and continuing action. In the epilogue, Mr. Wallis addresses the need for emerging leadership, and declares, "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

If you are a Christian independent voter in this country seeking for a strong voice to put real words to your concerns, this is the book you've been waiting for.
Profile Image for Charles.
Author 40 books252 followers
May 24, 2013
This is a book that is needed in the modern world. It's one I've been hoping to see, and it actually came out in 2005. I've been saying for many years that religious people need to do more to counter the extremism that seems to be creeping into Christianity these days, especially that which has a political agenda. There are many moral issues to deal with in our time, not just gay rights, abortion and prayer in schools. There is how we treat the poor, fair versus free trade, the environment, and the mainstreaming of war.

The author of this book, Jim Wallis, is a liberal, and I knew there were religious liberals out there. I just didn’t hear about them very much. I found myself agreeing with him almost right down the line in his opinions. War should only happen as a last resort, not a first. Abortion is not a desirable phenomenon but the way to decrease abortion is to increase sexual education and access to birth control rather than legislation against it. Gays deserve fair treatment and God is no homophobe. Both parties talk about the poor but almost no one does anything about them. And on and on.

Wallis skewers the fundamentalist right wing religious movement pretty soundly, especially when it gets its fingers into politics. But he also skewers the left wing for refusing to even talk about morality from a religious point of view.

I don’t have just pros for the book, though. It was longer than it needed to be, I thought, and a lot of that is because Wallis really, really likes to hammer a point home. There’s a fair amount of redundancy, a fair amount of letters and speeches that are quoted verbatim. That could have been shortened a bit. But overall, I enjoyed this book and I think it really is an important one, not only to those who are actively religious today, but to those who once were religious but were driven away by fundamentalism, and to those who are honestly curious about religious views.
Profile Image for Mark.
730 reviews58 followers
December 21, 2007
I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately it's just not very good, and I say that even though I agree with most of the general positions taken.

First, the book tries to make it seem like the right and left are equally outside Christian values. To do this the author repeats standard Republican lies about the left, which not only is insulting but by lying the author undercuts his moral authority. Even bending over backwards like that, the author still makes it clear the sad state that the right is currently much further from God's politics.

Second, the book is not biblically based. The author assumes that you agree with his theology and makes little effort to reference the Bible. If the reader doesn't already agree with the author, there is nothing in here to challenge that or provide any food for thought. I think some of the author's positions are not supported by the Bible, but since he doesn't lay his reasons out I can't even start to understand his position.

Third, the book is similarly not very fact based. The author states statistics but the majority of the time doesn't footnote them. (But sometimes he does, so it isn't just a writing choice to never footnote.)

Fourth, the book is very repetitive. Many sections have the author presenting his view, immediately followed by a copy of a letter/speech/etc from him restating that view, then a later section will repeat the view again.

Fifth, the book doesn't discuss the separation of church and state, and it doesn't discuss when to legislate morality versus when to leave morality as a personal choice. How can you write a book about religion and politics and leave those out???

If anyone is still interesting in reading the book, let me save you some time: "Morality good. War bad. Poverty bad. Family values good." All right, you're done. That's it.
Profile Image for Ben Bush.
Author 4 books40 followers
June 9, 2011
Read this for a book review back in '05. I know neurotic that I'm logging this stuff but it's interesting for me to see what I remember of these things.
Profile Image for Letitia.
1,062 reviews85 followers
May 15, 2018
My rating reflects a deep disappointment with this book. I did not realize that it was written primarily to Christians and is a Bible-based argumentation for social justice. However, it is not Wallis' fault that I was not his intended audience. It IS his fault for maintaining an academically weak argument and naive worldview in the face of overwhelming evidence that contradicts his deep conviction that the majority of Evangelical Christians, like him, care about social justice and bipartisan solutions to economic inequality. No, they don't. Some do, for sure. But the 2016 election was irrefutable in its evidence that Christians, 80% of the white ones, will vote for anyone who doubles down on their politics of identity and promises to nominate pro-life justices. I did expect this book to be more intellectually robust, if nothing else.

That said, I cannot fault the STYLE of writing, as the ideas are clear, and the thesis is straightforward. I just don't think the thesis or subsequent arguments are backed up well at all. His strength lies in using scripture to justify his political positions, but throughout this narrative he remains convinced that the way to save America, and in fact the world, is by infusing policy with dogma. Not only does that run completely contrary to the intention of the Constitution, but it isn't a valid proposal. Christianity specifically, and religion in general, while it may have played roles in moments of progress (the Quakers advocating abolition or Black Christians propelling the Civil Rights movement), the overall history does not support an idea of religion that is progressive or that stands up for the oppressed. On the other side of the Civil Rights movement were white Christians preaching in church, and using scripture to justify their claims of supremacy, that Black people were inferior and should not be integrated into the dominant white culture.

It also rankled when he claimed liberals were fine with Black Christians because they were Black. What a tool. Liberals and most Black Christians share principles, and therefore agree on policy. His snide remark that race preference allows liberals to "get past" the religion thing illustrates the same kind of naivete of which he is accusing the Left in his very title.

In short, while I might agree with Wallis on some issues of policy and certainly concerning the war in Iraq, it is not because we share a base value system or a philosophy of government. I find his promotion of Christianity as the means of arbitrating morality ludicrous at best and damaging to democracy at worst.
Profile Image for Sarah Faircloth.
44 reviews1 follower
January 20, 2023
I remember standing in my mother-in-law’s kitchen a while ago saying “I sincerely don’t know where I stand politically, but I do know that I have the responsibility to choose the love of Jesus and the gospel over the constitution every single time.”

This book is a breath of fresh air to me. It puts my passions and frustrations into words.

Fav quotes:

“God's politics is never partisan or ideological. But it challenges everything about our politics. God's politics reminds us of the people our politics always neglects — the poor, the vulnerable, the left behind. God's politics challenges narrow national, ethnic, economic, or cultural self-interest, reminding us of a much wider world and the creative human diversity of all those made in the image of the creator. God's politics reminds us of the creation itself, a rich environment in which we are to be good stewards, not mere users, consumers, and exploiters. And God's politics pleads with us to resolve the inevitable conflicts among us, as much as is possible, without the terrible cost and consequences of war. God's politics always reminds us of the ancient prophetic prescription to 'choose life, so that you and your children may live,' and challenges all the selective moralities that would choose one set of lives and issues over another."

“Patriotism means loving your country and its best ideals, even enough to oppose it when it is grievously wrong. And Christian faithfulness always supersedes patriotism. American Christians need to be reminded that we are a worldwide Church.”
Profile Image for Janet.
869 reviews6 followers
May 11, 2018
Jim Wallis mixes religion and politics lamenting how far we have to go in addressing social issues. It was particularly painful to read this 2006 discourse since these issues have gotten worse in the last 10+ years. The Religious Right leans to the Republican party which is the one less likely to provide relief, despite Christ advocating the government to address our problems. Reading the book made me want to go back in time when Christian leaders were social change agents 50+ years ago with the civil rights movement and more. My motivational take-away was a conviction to "be the change I want to see in others". Sigh.
Profile Image for Rick Lee Lee James.
Author 1 book32 followers
June 22, 2017
Spot On

Jim Wallis is a great example of how to be in and not if the world of politics. He is a prophetic voice in a world desperately in need of it. This is a really important read, especially in the time of President Trump, but it could use an update for relevancy.
Profile Image for Joseph Sverker.
Author 3 books54 followers
April 12, 2019
Can't say that I object to much, or any really, in this book. But what for me sounds rather mainstream and self-evident obviously isn't so in its American context. It makes me a be sad that I book like this even is needed. Wallis' approach to same-sex relations is thought worthy annovel in a polarised debate.
Profile Image for Sam.
418 reviews25 followers
August 1, 2020
We should pray and worry earnestly if God is on our side - A. Lincoln

Religion and politics have a vision problem.

Fundamentalism is a reaction against modernism.

Politicians never address the problem, but use the poor and sacrifice them on the altar of political power, either democrat or republican.

We’re all in this together, and we refuse to be separated by republican or democrat labels.
1 review
June 19, 2007
Focused on the 2004 presidential election, God’s Politics is a sweeping commentary on the two-party American political system. Jim Wallis believes that American leaders have a vision problem: a basic lack of vision. Therefore, Wallis recommends adopting a vision of justice borrowed from the pages of the Old Testament prophets. He believes, as I do, that our political system spends too much time, energy, and money on partisan bickering, acknowledging that every important social movement in American history (abolition, suffrage, civil rights) has started with a cause and vision capable of unifying diverse community and political leaders. Moreover, these movements were led by godly men and women who sought to live out the biblical mandate for justice in all areas of life. Wallis calls for “a new vision for the common good that could inspire us all to live lives of service and to a whole new set of public…priorities” (pg. 28).
In answering the question of how our faith should influence our political activities, Wallis writes that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, the left or the right, have embraced a holistic vision for domestic or international justice and morality. While often focusing justly on social issues, too many Democrats have espoused a faith that is separate from their private lives and shy away from using moral or spiritual terminology. On the other side of the aisle, Republicans have often attempted to co-opt religious issues for political gain. This was particularly evident in George W. Bush’s campaigns, during which the religious right was heavily courted through appeals to a very narrow spectrum of morality issues (abortion and gay rights). Christians on the Right have many healthy things to say about personal morality, but their social decisions show a lack of commitment to the common good in terms of economics and international diplomacy. Wallis calls for a new option that would combine the more conservative moral values of the Right with the social concerns of the Left. (I would like to see this as well.)
Recently, I have been thinking about the continued disenfranchisement of America’s poor, so I am particularly interested in Wallis’ discussion of poverty and the “Burger King Mom” (pg.. 221), who is working hard and still struggling to pay rent each month. I must admit that I had never considered the context of Mark 14.7 in the way he describes it – the disciples have the poor precisely because they are followers of Christ. Concern for the poor must be a plank (or several planks) in the platform of each Christian politician, for true religion is to help the needy and powerless (James 1.27). Wallis challenges both conservatives and liberals to stop placing blame, start developing creative solutions, and take leadership responsibility for the poverty-perpetuating policies they create. Similar to Paul Marshall in Thine Is the Kingdom, Wallis calls on large corporations to move away from simple profit toward the idea of common good and highlights the connection between racial prejudice and poverty. I agree that our country has a very long way to go toward economic righteousness and that we have a great deal to learn from the legacy of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. about how we can unite our diverse politic under a common banner of integrity and justice.
While I found God’s Politics to be a bit self-indulgent at times, I basically resonated with much of Wallis’ critique of the American political system. Many of my peers share my sense of disillusionment with our current two-party system, which seems to so often present a choice between the lesser of two evils instead of a choice for the common good. I am a bit uncomfortable with the way in which Wallis sometimes places the ideals of democracy side-by-side with God’s mandates, but I do believe that we have a useful system by which we can affect a great deal of positive change through a vision of holistic justice.
39 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2007
While I am very glad that I read this book, God’s Politics isn’t perfect by any means. It is sometimes repetitive, and I think that there are areas in which Mr. Wallis glosses over incredibly complicated and thorny issues with too much ease for my liking. However, it did what I needed it to. I think I was already in a place where I was ready to hear a lot of what the author had to say, though.

First of all, this book suggests that people of faith should in no way feel obligated to give their unconditional support to either of the major political parties. That makes sense, especially since the number of independent voters is rising across the country. I think that many people are realizing that neither party really encompasses the whole of their political concerns, and I think that realization is important for Christians as well. The author instead proposes that religious people need to hold both Republicans and Democrats up to a higher moral standard and work and speak up for change where either of them falls short.

Second, this book suggests that a re-ordering of priorities is in order. It suggests that “social justice” is not just a secular issue, but a spiritual one as well. Mr. Wallis speaks again and again of the necessity for reforms that will raise the standard of living for those most in need in both the United States and the rest of the world, and he supports his arguments with an almost overwhelming list of Biblical references that speak of God and Christ’s concern for the poor. This may seem trite, and I may seem like I’m coming a little late to the game, but the idea that a church’s benevolence mission should involve both providing food and basic necessities for those who truly need it AND working to change conditions so that the need is less seemed to make a lot of sense to me.

This book certainly gave me a lot to think about. My teaching experiences and the fact that I’ve been paying more attention to the news in recent months had both had me thinking a lot about the state of the world, and I fluctuate back and forth between optimism and feeling too small to make a difference, which I suppose is normal. Another thing that God’s Politics did for me is give me an idea of positive things that are happening because people are working for change. It also made me remember and be grateful for some of the positive things I know are going on. I suppose the old, “Do all you can, and let God take care of the rest” is applicable in this situation. I didn’t used to like that sentiment... I thought it passed responsibility, but now I tend to see it as, “Work as hard as you can, and trust that your efforts are serving a higher purpose, even if you can’t see it.” I needed that perspective shift.
Profile Image for Bart Breen.
209 reviews17 followers
May 25, 2012
A must read Book for people of Conscience and Intelligence

Wallis brings an important and much needed message to the religious and political arena. Most of what he has to say is articulate, well thought out and presents the important message that Christians must beware of the dangers of "Group-Think."

My primary criticism and the reason I give the book 4 stars rather than what would have otherwise surely been a 5, is that the title is somewhat misleading. Reading this book I was under the impression that it would seek to point out issues on both the Democrats and Republicans and indeed there are places where that seems to happen.

Far more, however, this is aimed primarily at the "Right-Wing Conservative" faction of the Republican party who have embraced religious values. What little criticism the Democrats receive is more along the line of "They don't communicate their message, well." The title would lead you to believe there is criticism all the the way around. It just isn't so. -1 Star for misleading this reader in that regard.

Granted, the Republicans are the party of power and as such are worthy of more scrutiny. Even factoring this in, I don't believe an objective reader could look at this and conclude it is a balanced and equally critical look at both parties.

That having been said it is still an important and riveting book.

Wallis is nothing if not passionate and his lifestyle and actions as reported by him, are in line with what he is saying which I respected immensely and chose to accept at face value. Of particular note, and resonating with this reader were these important points:

1. No reading of the Bible can miss the prevelent theme of how Christians respond to the poor as a primary tenet of Christians and their role in society.

2. Any Christian response to terrorism that is based on fear and focuses on external threats without addressing the legitimate needs of the poor, misses several primary teachings of Christianity and may, in fact, be planting the seeds of our own internal demise by what the response will be from those so neglected.

3. There is no one party that espouses all legitimate values of the thinking Christian, therefore, decisions must be made based on a preponderance of issues and not just a few packaged for public consumption.

4. Christians must come forward into the political process and bring with them their Faith-based values. Society needs them. Our faith demands it. To do otherwise is to leave the field to packaged populism which unfortunately, far too often allows itself to be drawn into the mold that the major parties prepare and the media conveys.

Very much worth the read. Just be aware that the bias of the author is not particularly veiled and certainly not hard to see.
Profile Image for Matt Hartzell.
364 reviews8 followers
May 7, 2009
This was a pretty meaty book to get through, and I don't think that has everything to do with an abundance of unique content. This book probably could have been cut down a bit.

That being said, I think I generally enjoyed the book and the challenges that Jim Wallis gives. I loved the call to a new kind of approach to politics, and it helped me to understand my own misgivings about the whole political process. At times, I feel negatively about American politics, and this book helped me to articulate why. I gleaned a ton of quotes and points from the book that I hope will allow me to take another step towards developing my own political views, incorporating faith into those views, and also learning to deeply care about the things that God cares most about.

On the other side, the book was not the balanced treatise that I expected. A significant portion of the book was spent lambasting the Bush administration, and it seemed to spend quite a bit more time critiquing the conservative approach as opposed to the liberal approach. Since I read the book after Bush left office, I was hoping for less on specifics and more on guiding principles. At various times, I found myself questioning Wallis' logic and wondering if the alternative to his thinking might also have been valid. I wasn't exactly an exuberant supporter of the Bush administration myself, but I also don't think he was responsible for every problem in the country.

The book does shine, however, in the moments when Wallis spends less time on Bush and various conservative leaders, and more on overarching issues and principles like vision, social justice, personal morality, etc. Those bits are what I've latched onto.
Profile Image for Jon.
Author 1 book60 followers
February 10, 2009
Wallis makes a fantastic argument, though the book could be a bit more concise. I agree with his basic premise, that God isn't interested in selective morality, in choosing left or right in politics, that He's interested instead in all moral choices, from war and poverty to sexuality and abortion.

His stance is fresh and appealing, but I have just one complaint. He too frequently lampoons Republicans for being greedy money grubbers. Again, I agree with his words on how much God is concerned with poverty. In fact, I think that God may care more about how we treat the poor than He cares about most, if not all, other political issues. (Christ's ministry certainly hints to this.) But Republicans aren't all money grubbers. Statistics from Arthur C. Brooks reveal that religious conservatives are much more likely to give to the poor than secular liberals. In addition, I think that many Republican policies, like the ones Giuliani implemented to help the poor in New York, are effective because they give the poor work, a gift better for them in almost all instances than money. The biggest problem with God's Politics is that Wallis doesn't detail exactly how liberal programs help the poor more than the best conservative programs.

If I knew that liberals really were giving more to the poor than conservatives do, I might join them. As it is, I wonder how liberals can be pleased to have elected a man like Biden, who gave 0.3 percent of his 2007 income to charity.
Profile Image for Andrea.
198 reviews4 followers
April 11, 2013
I've read many short articles by Jim Wallis but this is the first extended book of his that I have read. Overall I think that Wallis has a prophetic voice that the American Church needs to hear. After reading this book, I'm not convinced that the book format provides the best platform for him. I felt he was at times repetitive and some of the chapters read like a compilation of shorter articles. But I may have felt this way because I was already familiar with some of his writing.

Despite my reservations about the writing style, Wallis' message is still important and this book makes some very important arguments that all Americans need to hear. He captures his main points under three headings: "When did Jesus become pro-war?", "When did Jesus become pro-rich?", and "When did Jesus become a selective moralist?" Wallis argues consistently that followers of Jesus Christ need to move beyond tying their faith to a single political party and apply it across-the-board, engaging with our society and offering compelling alternatives to the entire spectrum of challenges our society and world face: poverty, violence, racial reconciliation among them.

For those who don't want to tackle an entire book on the topic, Wallis writes regularly at www.sojourners.com, advocating for the same issues he raises in this book.

Profile Image for Aldra.
50 reviews3 followers
March 26, 2008
Those who cling to their political ideologies and parties will find this book difficult, because it exposes the idiocy of both sides of the divide. From what I've noted among other critiques, folks have a hard time dealing with their particular tribe coming under the microscope and fail to see that both sides of the fence receive Wallis' sense of frustration. It's not a "liberal" or "conservative" tome, despite the offended's insistence upon such.

It is, however, an interesting read, albeit redundant at times. (It could have easily been halved in length without sacrificing any content.) I certainly didn't agree with all of his points, but was grateful that he looked for common ground (e.g., the abortion argument) where actual solutions reside, instead of the endless "conservative" and "liberal" sound bites we've begun to inaccurately equate with debate and discussion.

Wallis is an example of an Evangelical Christian that we rarely see in the public eye, which is refreshing. The approach he uses in finding middle ground and not bowing to the stereotypical knee-jerk response is equally refreshing.
12 reviews
December 13, 2009
Jesus called us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and be of service in other simple ways to 'the least of these'. This was the essence of the greater part of his message to us and is central to us learning and showing that we love God as He loves us.

This book, published after the 2004 election, throws cold water in the face of the meanness of the political right and the vacuousness of the political left with regard to how they treat religion in their campaigns.

I think this book is an important grounding, not in religion, but in bringing us back to some of the essential points of Christianity and how God isn't on anybody's side in politics. This book is eloquently against all those who would use Jesus' message to further their own agendas.
Profile Image for J.D..
143 reviews9 followers
September 24, 2009
As much as I love the sentiments and agree with much of what he had to say, I could not enjoy this book. He failed to say much more than has been said in many of the Sojourners advertisements and that is an absolute travesty. I feel as if I have heard much of this just by reading articles on the website, but I believe this might be helpful for those who might be looking for a new political response by a Christian. I would not say I am incredibly informed even, so I can not recommend this to any who may even know a bit about Jim Wallis and Sojourners.
Profile Image for Maria.
57 reviews17 followers
February 16, 2010
I was slowed down in this book by the over-emphasis on the war in Iraq. Seriously? The first two or three chapters, ok. But then... it... kept... going... on... forever. Once I got through those chapters, the book flew by and I thought Mr. Wallis lacked the same level of detail and depth in to social justice issues. He completely ignored the role of poverty in abortion and never thought to address the legality issue even within the his proposed framework of the consistency in the value of human life. Overall, I was disappointed.
4 reviews
September 17, 2008
Redundant, cliche and drawn out. Still, there are some parts that are very impressive and inspirational. I especially liked his section on Israel-Palestine and respect his sincere efforts to confront poverty in a collaborative effort with anyone who cares. While he clearly has his motives in the right place, I think the book is too long and he says things that are obvious to a liberal--- though maybe I wasn't the intended audience. He also self-references a lot!
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,821 reviews284 followers
February 28, 2023
I want to make everyone read this book, Christians, non-Christians, Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals. I love how Wallis wants to make the world better, how he shows common ground between diverse groups, and how he nevertheless comes across as a deeply spiritual yet humble man.

I plan to subscribe to Sojourners. I will take action. I will speak up.

Thank you, Jim Wallis, for writing this book.

1,587 reviews86 followers
December 31, 2009
Needed an editor. If this was half as long, I might have loved it. But, it was too repetative, tried to say everything about the political agenda of social justice religious groups and took up far too much space quoting the author's own former witings. Did we really need to read his op ed articles, public letters and sermons when they simply repeated what he was already saying three other times in the same chapter?
80 reviews4 followers
July 12, 2010
This is a refreshing outlook from a man who is a Christian in the truest sense of the word. It is unfortunate that the extreme right professing to be Christians aren't required to read this book. I have loaned this book to many people of ALL different religious persuasions (including an atheist or two) and all have come away with positive thoughts and a better understanding of today's moderate Christians as well as the extremists.

This is a book that I will re-read every couple years.
Profile Image for Vicki.
857 reviews61 followers
July 2, 2007
I would've liked this book if I read it when I bought it. But I read it in 2007, when Wallis' warnings about the war seem less prescient and more "well, duh." Poor timing.
Also he makes points, then inserts a sermon or open letter or article that he wrote as the next chapter, which covers the same ground. Gets somewhat repetitious.
October 7, 2020
This book could have ended at the first section. The overview of each point is more than enough to understand what Wallis is arguing with ample justification. Each individual section just fleshes out a point that doesnt need the added attention.

I gave 3 stars because the argument is sound and one I agree with. However, this could have been a 100 pg book rather than +350.
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