Ever wonder if you’re being used?

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 29, 2010

Sojourners’ head Jim Wallis recently got into a spat with Marvin Olasky of World magazine after Olasky charged that Wallis’ organization had received funding from famous lefty George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Wallis attacked Olasky, saying that “he lies for a living” and that Sojourners hasn’t gotten money from Soros. Wallis was wrong, and when first confronted with the evidence demurred saying that he responded to the attack in “the spirit of the accusation” – not exactly a Christ-like response. Wallis has since apologized.

Amid all of that, comes this report from Jay Richards over at National Review’s The Corner on the sources of Sojourners funding.

The “clarification” of his earlier statement is equally unsatisfying. First, Wallis is still trying to claim that his organization transcends the Manichean political divide of left and right. They just do “biblical social justice,” he insists. But again, as I show in much more detail elsewhere, Wallis and Sojourners regularly couple strained, narrow readings of scriptural texts and a vaguely Marxist economic foundation to arrive at political and economic positions that are well left of center and far afield of a far more nuanced charity and justice tradition stretching back through almost 2,000 years of orthodox Christian thought.

Second, it’s implausible for Wallis to claim that grants between 2004 and 2007 totaling $325,000 are “the tiniest fraction” of Sojourners’ funding. Worse, the three grants from Soros’s Open Society Institute are only the tip of the iceberg. Based on publicly-available 990s, I’ve discovered that Sojourners received at least forty-nine separate foundation grants between 2003 and 2009, totaling $2,159,346. Not one of these is from a discernibly conservative foundation. Very few are from discernibly Christian foundations.

Besides the Soros grants, for instance, there are two 2006 grants from the infamous Tides Foundation totaling $72,106; a Ford Foundation grant in 2008 for $100,000; a Rockefeller Brothers Fund grant for $100,000 in 2005; and a $50,000 grant from the Wallace Global Fund in 2008. The Wallace Global Fund also supports ACORN and a cornucopia of population-control groups.

Three grants, totaling $20,000 between 2005 and 2007, are from the Streisand Foundation in California. Yes, that Streisand foundation. (That’s just funny.) Other recipients of Streisand philanthropy include People for the American Way and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. This is very left-wing company.

I think Wallis just needs to come to grips with the fact that he is on the political and religious left.

For all of the dismay that some Christian leaders express for the fact that many evangelical Christians are beholden to the GOP and the political right, there’s far less agonizing over Wallis and the mainline Christian churches allegiance to the Democrats.

If I had so many people who really oppose what I say are my deeply held beliefs giving me money, I’d wonder if I was being used.

At what point do you come to the conclusion that their funding undermines your message? Do you ignore your funders’ questionable motives an go ahead with getting your message out despite the questions about hypocrisy and allegations they you’re little more than a tool? Would your message be more credible, and have more impact, even if you had less money?

These are some things Wallis might want to think about.


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August 2010



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