A recent post on First Things lambastes progressive evangelical leaders Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, and David Gushee for styling themselves as “prophetic” voices that “speak truth to power” while gushing in support of Barack Obama, and particularly the recent appointment of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius is widely known to have a strongly pro-choice position on abortion, and as of now evangelical leaders such as these still purport to be opposed to abortion. Hence the disgust of the First Thingsers:
Now, we all know that those who engage in the rough and tumble of everyday politics, including the hardball of cabinet nominations, have to make compromises and make careful judgments of prudence. There are, no doubt, worse appointments than Sebelius (although one simply could not imagine an Obama appointment these guys would actually protest).
But if you are going to get into the rough and tumble of everyday politics and if you are going to take the side of President Obama, the most powerful man in the world, against evangelicals and Catholics leaders in the pro-life movement on a cabinet appointment, could we at least be spared all the self-righteous drivel about being “prophetic,” and “speaking the truth to power.” You can be a flak for the Obama administration on things like cabinet appointments. Or, you can claim to be a “prophet” and “speak the truth to power.” But you can’t be both. It seems obvious what the Wallis, Sider and Gushee crowd have chosen.
Now, on one level Pavlischek’s post is certainly right, to the degree that Wallis et al claim to be representing “prophetic” religion they are certainly full of shit. This has been true all along and should not be news to anyone. Neither should it be news to anyone that the First Things crowd could never muster up one criticism of the Bush administration, even when the Pope straight out condemned the war. Everyone here is quite clearly and ideologue.
However, what’s funny about the post is that it portrays a sort of pissy jockeying between the First Things crowd and the new evangelical left over who has the clout to call themselves prophetic. It’s the evangelical equivalent of Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken arguing over whether republicans or democrats are the true patriots.