Jim Wallis: Racism ‘In the Air that We Breathe, In the Water that We Drink’

Sojourners President Jim Wallis preaches March 13, 2016 at the Washington National Cathedral (Photo: Washington National Cathedral)
Sojourners President Jim Wallis preaches March 13, 2016 at the Washington National Cathedral (Photo: Washington National Cathedral)

White racism is endemic in the United States, according to a prominent Evangelical Left author and activist who preached Sunday at the Washington National Cathedral.

“For some, the potential loss of historic white supremacy and privilege – which all of us have become accustomed to, and which I believe was America’s original sin – is still with us,” warned Sojourners President Jim Wallis.

Wallis spoke March 13 at the Episcopal cathedral in Washington, D.C., where he gave a sermon at the 11:15 a.m. service and spoke at the cathedral’s 10 a.m. Sunday Forum.

In his sermon, Wallis stated that sin must be relegated to, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “the former things, the things of old.”

“But our original sin was at the foundations of this nation,” Wallis declared, citing the justification of slavery and the confiscation of land from Native American peoples. “That’s in our DNA, it’s very deep, and it won’t be overcome easily.”

Wallis described the water contamination in Flint, Michigan as a parable for racism “in the air that we breathe, in the water that we drink.”

“When racial fears are provoked and promoted it pollutes the environment and the atmosphere of American life,” Wallis warned. The Sojourners founder named repentance as the answer, but noted it did not involve simply saying sorry or regretting the past. “Repentance means turning around and going in a new direction”

Wallis observed that “many people” in America are angry due to economics, marginalization, or not being listened to or cared for.

“Such anger is now in great danger of being manipulated and used for self-aggrandizing political purposes to divide rather than unite America,” the Sojourners president assessed.

Wallis, who has been on a cross-country tour to promote his new book America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, reported that he sensed “a hunger for multi-racial truth-telling”, for justice and for healing.” Public revelations of killings of young men and women of color, and a new generation of activists, are awakening many, Wallis insisted. “And now I hear even more white Christians saying that if we acted more Christian than white, parents would have less to fear for their children.”

The American Baptist clergyman asserted that Americans he encountered were interested in focusing on the state of race relations in the country, while the media was preoccupied with the “horse race” of the U.S. presidential election.

“This cannot just be a political movement. Politics will not be enough this time, and neither political party have embraced this in the way that they can and must,” Wallis determined. “It will only be a spiritual movement that can change our politics.”

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SOURCE: Juicy Ecumenism
Jeffrey Walton

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