Q You speak of seeing more distrust than ever before. What have you
learned over the years about what builds trust and how social change
It happens when we deepen our faith and deepen
our relationships. If our faith deepens and our relationships get
stronger, who knows what kind of spiritual and even political influence
might come from this time, ironically?
The frame that I’m using
is faith, resistance and healing. This isn’t going to be a time of
reform, of changing things for the better. It’s a time of resistance.
And in those times, your faith can go deeper. I think there’s going to
be a deeper movement of faith and justice in this country.
we actually read what our scriptures say, and do what is said, churches
will have to say to the president, “You can’t deport hard-working,
law-abiding, contributing immigrants.” Jesus calls them the stranger,
and we’re going to welcome them into our churches, our seminaries and
our homes. We’re saying to the police, and to Donald Trump, “If you
arrest those immigrants, you’re going to have to arrest them in our
churches and in our homes.”
When it comes to policing and young
African American men who are in grave jeopardy, we’re going to go to
every sheriff in the country and say, “We’re the clergy in your
community.” We’re going to shake their hands and say we want to work
with them on community policing, which is good for all of us, and good
for police too. And we’re going to hold them accountable for any
racialized policing: “We’re going to film you; we’re going to record
you; we’re going to watch you; we’re going to be in the streets with the
kids; and you’ll be held accountable by the clergy in this town for
obeying the law in regard to all your citizens.”
And if they
register Muslims, I can tell you that Christians and rabbis will be the
first in line. Muslims will have a hard time getting in line because
we’ll be ahead of them. Q In your call to resist bigotry, you refer to the golden rule — to treat others as we would want to be treated. How do you intend to treat President Trump? A
We’ll treat Donald Trump fairly. We’ll tell him what we’re going to do, and what he should do, from our perspective. We’re asking him to do what the Bible tells leaders and kings to do, which is to protect the vulnerable. Maybe we’ll help with his biblical literacy. Q Do you see evidence of a moral core in Trump to which you can appeal?A
No, I don’t. I gave you an honest answer. But we appeal to kings and rulers on the basis of our principles. They need to hear from the people of God about their responsibilities. Q In Canada, faith leaders have less influence on public discourse. What are your thoughts on how to be influential in an increasingly secular context?A
The two great hungers are the hunger for justice and the hunger for spirituality, and these two are deeply connected. One without the other is dangerous.
So this presents us with a moment to act in faith. If we do that in ways that show commitment and even courage, it could be a moment of putting faith into action. Q At Dan Berrigan’s wake, we heard how Dan would ask family members, “What gives you hope these days?” How would you answer Dan today? A
Hope is the most important thing that faith communities have to contribute to movements of social justice. I love the Hebrews text, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” My paraphrase is that hope means believing in spite of the evidence, and then watching the evidence change.
The evidence doesn’t look good right now, and people are afraid all over the world, with good reason. Donald Trump is a very dangerous man. And yet Donald Trump doesn’t have the last word. God has the last word, and people of God have to live as if we believe that God has the last word. This interview has been condensed and edited.
This story originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of The Observer with the title "Interview with Jim Wallis."
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