Sojourners Chief the Rev. Jim Wallis announced Thursday that he is stepping down as president of the Religious Left group and preparing to take on a new full time role as faculty at Georgetown University.
A change in role for the 72-year-old Sojourners founder was widely expected. Wallis has been a longtime fixture on the Religious Left, and is arguably it’s most visible self-identified Evangelical. Since the publication 15 years ago of Wallis’ God’s Politics, the ordained Baptist clergyman has been an especially visible spokesman for numerous groups and coalitions calling for increased government social welfare spending and loosened immigration policy. In recent years he emphasized issues of race and criminal justice.
Wallis will be succeeded by current Sojourners Executive Director Adam Russell Taylor, who has held positions with the Obama Administration, World Vision, and the World Bank Group.
The transition comes after Taylor became chair of the Sojourners Board of Directors in 2014. Wallis stepped down as editor-in-chief of the group’s namesake publication earlier this year after he attempted to delete an article accusing Roman Catholicism of rampant racism. His attempt prompted two other editors publicly to resign. IRD President Mark Tooley asked if Wallis might be “cancelled” as insufficiently “woke” amidst a season of protests centered upon the Black Lives Matter movement. Wallis will continue as a contributor to the magazine under the title “Founder and Ambassador.”
“I will also be joining Georgetown University as a full-time faculty member in July 2021, at the invitation of President Jack DeGioia, and have been asked to found a new center focused on the intersection of faith, public life, and the common good,” Wallis wrote. “Expanding on my 10 years at the university, this position will enable me to focus more on teaching and mentoring, writing and speaking, convening leaders, and advocating for justice, all in a remarkable new venue, while keeping an ongoing relationship with my beloved Sojourners.”
Next year the Sojourners magazine, originally called The Post-American, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its 1971 founding.
Wallis joining Georgetown faculty is noteworthy. For much of the last decade he has backed same sex marriage, at odds with Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism. Wallis has been more ambiguous on abortion, saying that he wants to reduce abortion but opposes legal restrictions. That may sound like a milquetoast statement, but the American political Left increasingly champions abortion not as a necessary evil but as an unalloyed social good. Even mild statements indicating the undesirability of abortion are rejected and activists are encouraged to “shout your abortion.”
The increasingly socially liberal views found in the pages of Sojourners have been in tension with prospective allies with whom Wallis has jointly advocated in his “Circle of Protection” group. That group has included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and lobbies for federal funding to social welfare programs and for more permissive immigration policy.