The cynical elites of Ancient Rome, said Edward Gibbon, found the religions of the empire equally false and equally useful. The leftist/corporate elites of our time also agree that religion is false, so much so that they can barely contain their contempt for it. As Barack Obama opined, it’s just something that Middle American losers cling to—along with their guns—to give meaning to their pathetic lives.
The elite class, with Obama as its front man, is a curious synthesis. In times past, Marxists and monopoly capitalists were supposed to be enemies. During the past couple of decades, however, they have become fast friends, and even exchanged values. The leftists now concede that greed can be good, especially when it’s their greed, and the capitalists have become fans of feminism, multiculturalism, and just about every other trendy nihilism of the left. Both sides, the sons of Marx and the sons of Mammon, are close as can be when it comes to globalism and mass immigration.
But standing against them, as David against mighty Goliath, are those pesky peasants clinging to their religion and their guns. Our lordly philistines aren’t too worried about Bubba Davids, but they would prefer to have no opposition at all. Accordingly, it seems, they are now exploring ways to neutralize Bubba’s religion—and even make it useful for their purposes. After that, they can figure how to get the guns.
George Soros, the billionaire speculator, embodies the left/right synthesis perhaps more than anyone else. Soros is the sort of capitalist who lends some credibility to old-style Marxism, with his currency manipulations that leave upended economies and bankrupt people in their wake, while providing scarcely any useful enterprise or employment. Citizens in countries as diverse as Russia, Britain, Thailand, and Malaysia have raged against his activities and likened him to a pirate.
Soros has employed the proceeds of his alleged piracy to bankroll the American left. For a host of organizations, pushing a variety of leftist agendas, Soros is a veritable Daddy Warbucks. One field not overlooked by the atheist Soros is religion, and one of his beneficiaries in that field is a man named Jim Wallis, who started out, on the conventional scale, as far left as Soros was right.
Throughout the Cold War, Wallis, a self-described Christian, was a fervid cheerleader for Third World communist revolutionaries. He denounced capitalism and war, while calling on people to love their neighbors—at least if those neighbors happened to be gun-toting Vietcong, Khmer Rouge, or Sandinistas. His faith, it seemed, was the Gospel according to Saint Marx.
After international communism collapsed, Wallis and his Sojourner movement reinvented themselves. Wallis even conceded that communism may have had some problems after all. He remained, however, a fervent leftist, committed to the redistribution of wealth and to what he called “social justice.”
Around the middle of the past decade, Wallis began to take a higher profile as a prophetic nonpartisan voice, especially after authoring a bestselling book about his politics entitled God’s Politics. Aiding his calling was manna from above in the form of $325,000 from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, between 2004 and 2007. When the revelation of this largesse came out last year, Wallis initially denied having received such funds, but he later had to confess it was true. That case of apparent false witness, however, didn’t seem to tarnish Wallis’s prophetic image in the media. There, social justice covereth a multitude of sins.
Soros, as usual, bet on a winner. Wallis gained great acclaim as a moderate foe of the Christian Right. The nonpartisan Wallis gave advice to congressional Democrats on how their party could make inroads with religious voters, and later served as a spiritual advisor to his friend, Barack Obama. Also, after donning a warm-and-fuzzy sheepskin jacket, Wallis headed out to preach his message of redistribution and “social justice” in conservative evangelical pastures, such as Wheaton College.
Wallis’s efforts coincided with a growing leftward shift among certain key evangelicals. One was Richard Cizik, who, for 30 years, represented the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in Washington. Marching to the tune of trendy, Cizik in 2008 endorsed same-sex unions and, as The Weekly Standard put it, “possibly marriage.” That was too much for the NAE, and Cizik had to resign. Shortly thereafter, he started an organization called New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.
And what financial angel descended to provide generous assistance for this new venture? Why, none other than George Soros’s Open Society Institute. The grateful Cizik gushed about the “wonderful people” and “my friends” at the Institute, and proclaimed that “We have much more in common than we have that divides us.”
And just what, exactly, is this movement of shared faith? No one would claim that Soros started it, or even that he is its prime mover. But without a doubt, this master of seizing opportunities views it as useful for his purposes. The faith goes under different banners. Among them are “new evangelicals,” “the emerging church,” and “red-letter Christians.” Promoting this movement is Faith in Public Life, an advocacy and outreach organization launched by the Soros-funded Center for American Progress.
The movement is diverse, but all factions seem to have certain attributes. Foremost among them is a stress on left-wing politics and egalitarianism, couched in religious language. This faith champions “the poor” and “the environment,” while attacking mainstream evangelicals for harping on such “divisive” issues as abortion and homosexuality. Divisive left-wing issues like sexism and homophobia are OK.
The more radical factions—the red-letter Christians—hold a low view of Scripture. They take their name from the editions of the Bible that highlight the words of Jesus in red. These letters, they say, are more authoritative than the rest of Scripture. It’s as if Jesus Christ wasn’t really the God who inspired everything else in the Bible, including those troubling epistles of the Apostle Paul that seem to give aid and comfort to sexists and homophobes. Detaching Jesus from the context of the whole Bible also assists the project of remaking Him in the image of modern sentimentality—a kind and gentle socialist who pranced around Palestine in his nightgown, preaching “love.”
One political goal that seems to unite the new evangelicals and all the rest is granting amnesty—i.e., legal status and eventual U.S. citizenship—to all or most of the 11 million or so illegal aliens living in the United States. Last year the Brookings Institution held a symposium of religious leaders to promote amnesty, with Jim Wallis as the lead speaker. The general line of the religious amnesty advocates is that giving a better material life to “undocumented” (illegal) immigrants is simple Christian charity.
It would also be a splendid gift for progressive (socialist) Democrats. One of their premier strategists, Robert Creamer, stated that illegal aliens amnestied by his party would be an eternally grateful and powerful bloc of voters. In left-wing religionist terms, it would be the registration of the undocumented and the life everlasting of the Democratic Party.
Amnesty may be one issue where the ideas of the new evangelicals are making inroads into the mainstream of conservative evangelical thinking. Last year, the National Association of Evangelicals endorsed legal status for illegal aliens, as did Richard Land, who heads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Although Land has said some good things about Jim Wallis, he disavows Wallis’s left-wing politics.
Land’s conservatism, however, leaves something to be desired, in that he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). One doesn’t have to be a Bircher to view this organization of U.S. elites in business, government, and other key sectors as an outfit bent on spreading globalism at the expense of U.S. sovereignty. Globalism and immigration offer something for everyone at the top: cheap labor for capitalists and cheap votes for socialists. The CFR lists George Soros as one of its members and Jim Wallis, as of last year, as one of its religious advisors. Naturally, the CFR also endorses amnesty.
Land says he is a member of the CFR to serve as a Christian witness to society’s powerbrokers. He would be wise, however, to consider the danger of unequal yoking, and being influenced—and used—by those he seeks to influence. Our left/right establishment has much to offer authentic Christians in the way of good press, praise, and paths to advancement. “All these kingdoms” they will give to those who bow before them. And their minions can be quite beguiling when they pose, as Judas did, as humanitarians and advocates of the poor. Here the wisdom of serpents is more important than the innocence of doves.
Will the new spirituality continue to make inroads into the mainstream of biblical faith? The answer will come as the faithful ponder and respond to the challenge of Joshua: Choose you this day whom ye will serve.