...I was brought up in the same sort of liberal Christian orthodoxy that Jim Wallis is espousing. I have to admit that I haven't yet found his recent book, Nato, but I have skimmed two from the early eighties I found at the library. It is all wearily familiar and pretty much as I remember it from the guitar-playing nuns of my childhood. They never said anything about abortion. They said a lot about the evils of American militarism. They said a lot about the evils of poverty. They never said anything much about the evils of America's enemies, and they left me with the strong impression that poor people were poor just because the rich people were keeping all the money for themselves.
I am one of those 16% of people in the poll Jim Wallis talks about who would say abortion is the greatest moral crisis facing America. It is a wrong that is obviously wrong, it is symptomatic of a deep philosophical loss of bearings that separates our age from the earlier centuries of Western civilisation, and it is a wrong that is easy to fix. Poverty is also a wrong that is obviously wrong, but it is something that is non-trivial to fix, and the 'obvious' solutions to fixing it are not solutions that work. The empirical evidence seems to be that the best way to alleviate poverty worldwide, an outcome I fervently desire, is to eliminate artificial barriers to the movement of goods, services, and most of all, labour. At the moment, the people who are pushing for the removal of these barriers in the United States are overwhelmingly on the right-wing side of politics. So, if we accept Jim Wallis' vision of poverty reduction as the single overriding concern for Christian voters, voting for the Democrats is still daft.
You might notice in one of the Gospels, Nato- I can't remember which one- Judas says 'This is a waste of money: this perfume should have been sold and given to the poor' and Jesus says 'Don't sweat it. The poor will be with you always', and in the next chapter Judas goes off to betray Jesus? That synchronicity of events has seemed important to me ever since I noticed it. It still bugs me. I think Judas really believed Jesus was all about eliminating poverty and forwarding the historical praxis of liberation (like me, circa 1990, and like Jim) and that when he found out that the truth was something different, he couldn't handle it.