The once-a-week that I watched it this week was yesterday, for about 15 minutes. I had gotten word that my favorite political author and activist Jim Wallis was going to be on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. Not only was I looking forward to seeing Wallis, I had an excuse to see Couric at her new gig, who I used to watch every morning before school on the Today show. The segment actually reminded me of the parody on the Daily Show, This Week in God, but that's besides the point. I was glad that someone was giving an alternative voice to the often-caricatured group 'Evangelical Christians'. The other interviewee in the segment is Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council. The interviews with the two leaders were done separately, and the clips mixed together. Wallis advocates that Christians care for more issues than just gay marriage and abortion- the almost-exclusively emphasized issues of the Religious Right.
From the CBS article:, Wallis' points summed up:
"The evangelists were abolitionists. They led the battle against slavery. They were revivalists and reformers. They fought for womenÂ's suffrage. They fought for child labor laws," Wallis says. "I want to build the same kind of social movements today. That means global poverty, it means Darfur, it means HIV/AIDS, it means global warming."
Perkins is more narrowly focused:
But Tony Perkins, president of the politically powerful Family Research Council, argues that abortion and gay marriage are the driving concerns for most evangelicals.More about 'taking sides':
"I think more and more people are standing on our side, on the side of sanctity of human life, the preservation of marriage," Perkins says. "I don't mind having these debates because when the truth is on your side, you ultimately win."
[Perkins says]"People are going to have to stand on one side or the other. These are decisions that you can't stand in the middle," Perkins says.
He considers Wallis an extreme. "I consider him to be on the left. I'm no more extreme on the right than he is on the left. I mean, he's out there," Perkins adds.
Wallis considers himself, however, to be square dab in the middle.
"Well, you know what's usually in the middle are dead cats and skunks that have been run over. That's usually what's in the middle of the road," Perkins says.
Yeah, real mature, calling your fellow Christians dead, flattened skunks...
That's one of the main things that irks me about many leaders of the Religious Right. They paint a good-guys-bad-guys, black-and-white picture, as if there is no 'middle' or the middle is a bad place to be. This narrow view of our-side-their-side also narrows the litmus test issues they discuss and act upon, causing many really important issues to go undiscussed.
Watch the whole clip here: