Progressive faith leader Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, is joining a chorus of Americans who are frustrated over the government shutdown. In a video monologue this week, he unleashed his views on the matter, calling the closure "unbiblical" and hitting back at the "political extremists" he believes are responsible for it.
While most of the debate surrounding the shutdown is partisan in nature, Wallis argues that the conundrum is deeper than mere strife between the parties; in fact, he says it's spiritual.
"There is a deeper problem here than politics. There's a theological problem," he proclaims in the clip. "As a Christian I want to say shutting down government is unbiblical. Yes, that's what I'm saying -- it's unbiblical."
Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, speaks during a press conference at the United Methodist Building January 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Wallis goes on to instruct readers to explore what the Bible has to say on the matter and specifically cites the 13th chapter of the Book of Romans, which discusses the importance of complying with government. This chapter reads, in part:
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?"
Of course, context is key and there are different interpretations of these verses. If the government is seen as overstepping boundaries, some would surely argue that Wallis' interpretation isn't quite air-tight. But in this case, he clearly sees it as applying perfectly to the current situation unfolding at the federal level.
"Government's role is to protect us from evil, to promote the good. We call that the common good," continued Wallis. "The scriptures make clear throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, the Book of Kings, that rulers, kings and governments are responsible for how they treat the poorest and most vulnerable. They're judged by that by God."
The Sojourners leader decried the "political extremists who want to shut down the government," pointing out two reasons that he believes they are acting in a non-Biblical manner. First, he says that their opposition to the government is, on its face, problematic -- and second, he says that they are opposed to the poor.
"They get hostile to the poor, because they're hostile to government," Wallis said. "So, those of you that want to shut down the government, I'd say read your Bibles."
He concludes by warning that God will hold everyone accountable for what unfolds during these "difficult days."
Watch his commentary, below: