When I was corrected for crediting Jim Wallis with helping to establish the progressive network called Faith in Public Life – despite the fact that it says so on the Faith in Public Life website (silly me) – the corrector attributed the real “establishment” to John Podesta’s non-profit group, Center for American Progress (CAP).
If you’ve listened to any conservative talk radio lately, you may have heard Podesta’s name in connection with a new censorship movement. CAP published a report in 2007, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” which found that “of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners… 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.” CAP seeks (according to the recommendations of this report) to remedy the imbalance by restricting ownership of commercial radio stations and fining “commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public int erest obligations.”
In addition to its censorship project, CAP has helped establish Media Matters for America, an Internet site “devised as part of a larger media apparatus being built by liberals to combat what they say is the overwhelming influence of conservative commentators.” [Jim Rutenberg, “New Internet Site Turns Critical Eyes and Ears to the Right,” NY section of the NY Times, May 3, 2004]
Now, I don’t want to misuse the term “established” again, so here’s what I mean by it: according to the New York Times, the “project was developed with help from the newly formed Center for American Progress [CAP], the policy group headed by John D. Podesta…” [Ibid.]
So, what we have here is a two-pronged response to the “conservative” message – censor and attack. Wait, there’s yet another prong, Faith in Public Life, which CAP also helped establish – according to, ahem, reliable sources (namely, my corrector, Jason Ge deik, Deputy Press Secretary of Jim Wallis’ Sojourners. But one also finds, independently of Gedeik, that the information was published in The Nation [Sarah Posner, “Democrats Chase Evangelical Votes,” 10-27-08, which says Faith in Public Life was “incubated” at the Center for American Progress after the 2004 election]).
And what is this Faith in Public Life “resource center” but a network of religious progressives gathered together to reshape the media perception about Christian values. Their writers and speakers – abortion “rights” activists and homosexual “rights” activists prominent among them – claim to represent the “true” voice of morality… beautifully bolstered by progressive politics. Censor, attack, and make it look as though God is on your side…you have to hand it to CAP.
Now, a little background on the operations of this media machine:
In December 2004, national religious leaders (including Jim Wallis) laid the groundwork for creating Faith in Public Life. It had a board in place in 2005, and on June 20, 2006 issued a press release announcing its “official launching,” though it had been operational six months earlier. Wallis’ Sojourners is mentioned as one of the groups FPL supports.
June 28, 2006, Obama spoke at a Call to Renewal Conference hosted by Jim Wallis’ group Sojourners. The speech argued that Democrats needed to grasp proper role of f aith in the public square. Religion wasn’t the property of the Christian right and there are “values” of import to believers besides gay marriage and abortion.
April 13, 2008, Faith in Public Life organized the Compassion Forum at Messiah College, where Democrat presidential nominees Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were questioned by religious leaders, among them Jim Wallis, about “value issues” and their religious beliefs.
As an aside, by the time Obama accepted his party’s presidential nomination (June 3, 2008), the Democratic National Convention had launched an initiative t o organize “faith communities” around the party’s values. An August 24, 2008 Interfaith “Service” before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, designed “to honor the diverse faith traditions inside the Democratic Party,” included Jim Wallis among its featured participants.
In mid-August 2008, Obama appeared with John McCain at mega-pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church to answer questions about his policies and his religious beliefs. Obama already knew both Wallis and Warren. At the 2006 Call to Renewal speech (see above), he had said, “Pastors, friends of mine like Rick Warren …Religious thinkers and activists like our good friend Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo…” According to the NY Times, the forum was cosponsored by Faith in Public Life.
The target of all this activity, remember, are “faith communities.” CAP was founded on July 7, 2003 due in no small measure to the generosity of billionaire George Soros (also one of the major funders of the Democratic Alliance, with its “religious outreach” component, including Faith in Public Life representation), who wanted to create a progressive think tank, able to respond quickly to conservative media “attacks.”
CAP has over a dozen spokespeople to which are added Faith in Public Life’s capabilities, directed particularly to people of various religious traditions. CAP posts daily “Talking Points” and a daily email newsletter, The Progress Report. It has several associated blogs, a youth outreach program, and a “sister advocacy organization” - the Action Fund – a 501c-4 lobbying arm. Faith in Public Life also has daily “faith news” emails – linked summaries of various media reports, usually with a progressive bent.
What’s going on here? If you – the observant Protestant, Jew, or Catholic – feel a bit like a clay pigeon, there may be a very good reason for it. Big money has been spent to shoot you out of the heavens and into the progressive hunting pouch.
Stephanie Block is the editor of Los Pequenos - a New Mexico-based publication. Her columns are made possible by the sponsorship of generous individuals who believe information about the development and dissemination of progressive ideology needs to be more widely understood. Please fell free to share -- acknowledging authorship -- these articles with others. If you would like more frequent publication of Stephanie Block's work, tax-deductible donations can be sent to: Catholic Media Coalition - PO Box 427 Great Cacapon, WV 25422 Attn: Progressive Watch