Jim Walls, CEO of Sojourners, and author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, said that Sarah Palin is acting in an “evil” way, because of the way she presented her case about HR 3200, specifically section 1233, which the Senate Finance Committee decided to remove.  How dare she call such a system evil!  How dare she use the rhetoric of “death panel”!   He said in his rant on August 11, I call it that because it is nothing more than a diatribe without any facts, the following:

Sarah, you’re the one who is acting in an “evil” way. After listening to your policy pronouncements during the campaign, many Americans decided, generously, that you weren’t ready yet for high political office. Others thought you just weren’t very smart. But this statement last week really does clear up the question for me. You are speaking like a demagogue in the worst tradition of those who knowingly distort and deceive, for their own political purposes. You want to stoke people’s worst fears and then, hopefully, they will look to someone like you to be their leader. You’re not stupid after all. You know that neither President Obama, nor anyone else in this health-care debate, would deny health care for your parents or child, and that none of the ideas being debated would suggest that. But people are confused and concerned, so you see your chance to prey upon their misunderstandings. Politics for people like you is really all about you, your fame and power, and your taste of it during the last election has revealed what kind of politician you truly are.

Now let me draw your attention to the instructions given before you can comment on his blog:

I will express mysel f with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree—even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members’ ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

Let me address Rev. Wallis, as if he were reading this (I won’t be holding my breath).  I am impressed with the community standards that you have for those who comments.  The type of speech you advocate in those standards should be what followers of Christ strive for.   It would, however, be nice if you would have followed them in your blog post.  For example… Is addressing a Governor by her first name respectful?  No.  I’m sure she’d extend the courtesy of calling you, “Rev. Wallis” since you are ordained.  That’s just a minor example, there’s more.

Also, pointing out that Governor Palin is “acting in an ‘evil’ way,” is acting in a courteous manner?  In Governor Palin’s remarks she doesn’t personally label President Obama “evil,” so I would submit she has acted in a more respectful manner than you.

Then you say, “You want to stoke people’s worst fears and then, hopefully, they will look to someone like you to be their leader.”  and “Politics for people like you is really all about you, your fame and power, and your taste of it during the last election has revealed what kind of politician you truly are.”  May I remind you that you say in your comments instructions that “I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions.”

Do you know her heart?  Do you know what was going through her mind?  Perhaps maybe she made the comments she made because she, like you, are concerned by what is going on with health care?  Perhaps she said what she said because she did want to speak on behalf of those she feels, after reading and researching the bill, may be marginalized?  One of President Obama’s (notice I don’t call him Barack) own economic advisors disagrees with you.

Certainly something needs to be done about health care, but instead of rushing forward with a bad bill that the clear, overwhelming majority is against; let’s step back and encourage our Representatives and Senators take a fresh look at this.  Government involvement, I know this may come as a shock to you, may not be the solution.  There are a lot of good ideas out there that are not even being considered.

Then you close your post by saying this:

Please don’t invoke your “Christian faith” anymore and embarrass the people of God even further. May your efforts to scare Americans during this important debate fail. May your political future also fail, and may your star fall as fast as it rose just a few months ago — because we now know who you really are.

I’m not going to take umbrage with your desire for her to fail, because though I pray for President Obama (can you say the same for Governor Palin?), I do want harmful policies not to go into effect.  So I can understand your sentiment.  What I do take umbrage with is it said in a form of a curse.  Who appointed you prophet?  Not only that, who appointed you spokesperson for “the people of God?”  When I speak or write, especially when dealing with politics, my opinion is my own.   I certainly do not claim any more authority than what I have been given.

To claim authority based on the readership of your blog to be speaking for the people of God is the height of arrogance.  You sir, do not speak for me.

HT: Josh Painter

Update: Kevin Blader, a pastor down in Winterset, IA made a comment on the Facebook posting of the link to this blog post.  He encapsulates my sentiment about what Rev. Wallis wrote about Governor Palin, so I thought I’d share it here.

I’ve read Sojurners a half a dozen times. Its ok. But to say your opponent is dim, not ready for prime time, and an evil demagogue to boot, that almost goes beyond Jim’s usual call for civil discourse at the table.

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