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Jim Wallis is an evangelical Christian reverend known as a writer and activist. He founded Sojourners Magazine in 1971 and currently serves as its Editor-in-Chief. His most recent book is The[…]

Democracy is ideal for religion.

Jim Wallis: Well I’m convinced that the democracy is not so much a system as a process.  Democracy recognizes our strengths and our weakness; our need to have checks and balances; our need to sort of be careful not to put too much power in one place.  That’s what democracy does.  The more we all participate, and the more we have sort of conflicting views and interests and the whole conversation, the better off we’re gonna be.  So in the end, I favor this continual movement toward greater and greater democracy.  I think most of us do.   That’s not so much a system as just a way to live together and to search for the common good.  The common good is the notion that we have to bring back into politics.  Catholic social teaching has it.  Judaism has it.  ________ Islam.  ____________.  So there’s a whole notion of how do we forge the common good, which I think takes away from capitalism, socialism.  You know our . . . the poorest and the most vulnerable being lifted up and being seen and not ignored, and not allowed to be exploited.  That’s a question to ask any system.  Are there checks and balances?  Is power finally able to . . .  Human beings with too much power, it doesn’t work well.  The gospel is at odds always with empire – Roman Empire, British Empire, and may I say American empire.  Super powers are dangerous always.  And so how do we decentralize power?  How do we distribute power?  How do we have competing, conflicting kind of power centers within a government and around the world?  I think, in fact, the rule of law is very important.  I think we have to learn how the rule of law – and international law in particular – could help to move us beyond the conflicts between nation states which isn’t working very well.  So I think democracy both at the level of neighborhoods, and schools, and churches, but also on a grander scale, that’s the future.  How do we more and more respect each other?  Everybody is important.  Everybody has a part to play.  The dignity of every individual is crucial; but individualism can rob us of our collective need, in fact, for the common good.