I was first exposed to Sojourners at college, and my impression of them has always been negative. It was the obvious disingenuousness of the whole thing that irked me; why should such an overtly leftist publication pretend to be bipartisan? Were they fooling anyone? What had such messaging to do with the Christian faith, and why should it be promoted at a Christian college? Maybe the fact that I was studying rhetoric made me especially attuned to the duplicity of ‘GOD IS NOT A REPUBLICAN…or a Democrat.’
Sojourners is still around, and nothing on their website suggests a Christian centrism. They seem quite sold to the left; maybe they don’t pretend otherwise anymore. As such, they present a compelling picture of how putting politics in the center makes us vulnerable to buying into the culture’s lies.
Case in point, an article that caught my eye a little while back: “#DEFUNDTHEPOLICE BECAUSE THEY WON’T REFORM THEMSELVES“, by Chanequa Walker-Barnes. It addresses issues of police brutality and reform, with the headlined perspective of supporting the defunding (possibly even abolition) of police. A careful analysis might draw attention to the one-sided argumentation about a complex issue, and a theological analysis might address the basic naivete of thinking that fallen humans can do without law enforcement (as an aside, the writer is a professor at McAffee School of theology, for whatever that may indicate about that institution).
But I will highlight a single statement, and the point that can be drawn from it: “We live in a militarized police state wherein law enforcement officers view themselves as our overlords and conquerors rather than as servants and protectors of the public.” Unless Walker-Barnes is utterly ignorant of the diverse reality of American police, that statement is slander. Even if Walker-Barnes is ignorant of the American police forces, it is difficult to believe that the editorial team at Sojourners is so ignorant; and, barring this vast ignorance of reality, they have willingly published a slanderous accusation against the police force. But perhaps the editors can defend themselves with a ‘the views in this commentary do not necessarily represent the views of Sojourners‘ disclaimer? No. They highlighted this very statement of Walker-Barnes’ article on the sidebar so that readers could tweet it.
What place has slander in a Christian publication? None. But that is what happens when worldly ideologies infiltrate and influence your thinking.
An instructive warning for Christian institutions, and even churches, in America today.