More Mischief From the Religious Left

The secular left certainly dislikes religion, but it actually dislikes some religious groupings a lot more than others. The real target of the secular humanists is biblical Christianity. Those who take their biblical faith seriously are the main objects of their wrath. Religious lefties however are actually viewed as “useful idiots” to use Lenin’s phrase.

That is, the secular left is happy to co-opt the religious left for its purposes. This was certainly the case during the Cold War. Plenty of naive and gullible religious leaders of the left ended up promoting the godless Communist regimes. They actually believed that God’s will was somehow being done in these bloody police states.

Many commentators wrote about this incredible idiocy. Paul Hollander wrote Political Pilgrims in 1981, describing Western intellectuals who travelled to Marxist lands and extolled the virtues of Communism while blasting the free West. And Lloyd Billingsley wrote The Generation That Knew Not Josef in 1985 (the pun referring to Josef Stalin of course), documenting the churches’ complicity with Marxism and totalitarianism.

But there are plenty of religious lefties today who are also helping to serve – whether wittingly or unwittingly – the secular left’s many crusades. As an indication of their usefulness, consider how it is only the so-called religious right which is on the receiving end of the secular left.

For example, Tony Abbott is viewed as a wild theocrat about to take over Australia because he is a conservative Catholic. Yet the secular humanists didn’t utter a peep when the Democrats had a Uniting Church minister from Queensland as one of their Senators a few decades ago.

Why not? Because he was a religious lefty! His views (except for a very minimal amount of religion) were perfectly acceptable to the secular left. He was pushing all the same buttons the secular left wanted pushed. So he was no threat. In fact he was a fellow traveller, another useful churchian.

Indeed, religious lefties will receive not only intellectual and ideological support from the various leftist activist groups, but they will also receive heaps of financing as well. Just as the former Soviet Union used to pump heaps of funding into various Western front groups, including liberal church groups, the left is still doing it today.

Consider the radical agenda being promoted by billionaire leftist George Soros. He is bankrolling all kinds of radical leftist and secularist causes, including drug legalisation, euthanasia, abortion, special rights for homosexuals, global government, and atheism.

And he is quite happy to fund radical religious lefties as well. One such recipient of his largesse is Sojourners magazine, edited by American religious leftist Jim Wallis. Incredibly however, for over a month Wallis had stated that such funding claims were a lie, and he refused to acknowledge it. But now he has had a rethink, and finally admits to this funding.

Marvin Olasky of WORLD magazine broke the story, and this tale of truth decay and the religious left is worth telling. Olasky explains: “Half-way through a July 17 WORLD column I mentioned that in 2004 Sojourners, Jim’s organization, received $200,000 from billionaire George Soros, a financier of left-wing groups that push for abortion, atheism, bigger government, and other causes. I had a printout of a page from the website of the Open Society Institute – Soros is OSI’s founder, funder, and chairman – showing the grant.

“It didn’t seem to me like any big deal: Of course Soros would see the religious left as important in drawing evangelical votes away from a conservative embrace. Of course Jim would take the money in pursuit of his aims. So I was surprised by Jim’s reaction when Timothy Dalrymple, who writes for the Patheos website, asked him about my mention of Sojourners receiving funding from Soros.

“Dalrymple asked, ‘Is there anything wrong with making common cause with the George Soroses of the world?’ Jim exploded: ‘It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.’

“Jim kept insisting: ‘We don’t receive money from George Soros. Our books are totally open, always have been. Our money comes from Christians who support us and who read Sojourners. That’s where it comes from.’ OK, easy enough to defend myself against lying: Ask folks to go to the OSI website and see for themselves. I did – and the record was gone. Cue the Twilight Zone music. Was my printout a forgery? Was I lying?”

Fortunately others had a record of this transaction. Thus Wallis has had to finally back down and admit that they did indeed receive Soros funding. As Olasky notes, there is nothing unusual about such funding. Indeed, we would expect it. But what we don’t expect is for religious leaders who like to claim the high moral ground to live in denial, smear their challengers as liars, and then when caught out, still offer no apologies.

Others of the religious left are not immune from such behaviour, and this just happens to be one of the more recent examples. But we have a history of leftist Christians aligning themselves with the bigger agenda of the secular left. The Soviets were quite happy about such complicity during the Cold War, and plenty of leftist groups today are quite happy about it as well.

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29 Replies to “More Mischief From the Religious Left”

  1. Bill,

    Interesting story. I am interested to know how you think this has relevance to the political situation here in Australia. Do you think the religious left is a force in Australia? Are there any analogous local stories? Do you think Greenslide on Saturday was helped by the religious left?

    Jereth Kok

  2. Thanks Jereth

    It would be interesting to know how many believers actually voted for the Greens, but I suspect it would be far too many!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Hi Bill,

    Would you say that Jim Wallis’ only problem is that he may well be in thrall to secularists who share some of his views? Or would suggest that the entire trajectory of his work and his ministry is askew (leaving aside the fact that he may well be a sometime “fellow traveller”)? I only ask, since I have long respected Wallis’ determination to speak up for the poor and vulnerable, and to try and broaden the scope of the church’s witness in society.

    That said, the events you have documented here do make him appear not only wooly-headed, but rather “political” as well (lying about the sources of your income is not a good look). I also agree that some Christians, Christian groups, and entire denominations, are too easily led by agendas and projects that are largely inimical to Christianity (as your article demonstrates). Just interested in your thoughts.

    Scott Buchanan

  4. Jereth,
    I’m surprised you ask such a question! Of course the religious left is a force in Australia. Just look at the Uniting Church! Look at large sections of the Baptist Churches and Churches of Christ. They’re not all leftist, of course, but they have been invaded by the left to a distressing extent. And even some formerly conservative denominations, such as the Reformed Churches (now Christian Reformed Churches) have been invaded by the left.
    Then there is the Christian School movement: many have lost their way and no longer teach a Christian world view, because of infiltration by the left.
    One could go on, but I fear greatly for the churches in our land. There is a dearth of Biblically sound leadership. All we have are relative upstarts who are apostles of the left as much as (or more than) apostles of Christ Jesus.
    All this is part and parcel of the long-ago announced intention of the left: the long march to capture the institutions, including – and most especially – the churches.
    Murray R Adamthwaite

  5. Thanks Scott

    Wallis and other US lefties like Campolo claim to be evangelical Christians, and as mentioned, may be well intentioned. But one can still question them theologically as well as politically. See for example my earlier write-ups about their selective use of Scripture, and how they have become useful idiots as they justify Marxist tyranny and bag their own America:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. The ideas of the left are now mainstream. The two party system is a sham, a democratic facade. There’s a bigger game in politics and economics around the world than what is obvious to the masses – there are massive deceptions being played out in our very midst. George Soros is just one (though a big one) of the powerful elite pushing socialist and atheistic world-changing agendas.

    I have a friend in the World Health Organisation. He reasons that global poverty could easily be eradicated in a generation through fair trade & the removal of protectionism in wealthy nations. But we know that the powers that be will never allow it to be so, partly because it means sharing the wealth, but mainly because it is a means to keeping control of nations and people groups.

    While Christians undeniably have a duty to bring salt and light to bear in the areas of abortion, euthanasia, sexploitation and homosexual brainwashing, still many (if not most) Christians parrot the policies of centralised government, socialised welfare, economic and environmental imperialism, greater regulation & higher taxation loss of privacy and freedoms in the name of anti-terrorism and anti-tax evasion etc. etc. from both parties, and yet we are forever falling prey to schemes and machinations that consolidate political, economic and religious power in the hands of the few.

    Our focus is on our own little backyards. instead of hiding our heads in the sand, we must become knowledgeable, and we must pray for revival and enlightenment from God, that His will be done in all this.

    Garth Penglase

  7. How unfortunate it is that false advertising doesn’t legally apply to organisations that call themselves “Christian Churches” and yet stand against biblical principles. It would be nice to be able to legally force them to call themselves something other than Christian if they refuse to stand for the very scriptures that define what Christianity is.
    Mario Del Giudice

  8. Jim Wallis is another example of the unholy allliances being forged in the world of Christianity (so-called). My prayer is that God will continue to expose those who claim Christ’s name yet reject His teaching; whether they are well-intentioned “useful idiots” or deliberate dis-information agents.
    Glenn Christopherson

  9. Hi Bill,

    Good article, I enjoyed it. Lewis warned about these sort of “Christians” in the Screwtape Letters. They have been encouraged to think in terms of “The Gospel and …” whatever cause they support and over time have abandoned the Gospel and turned it into a means to getting whatever their cause is done. In the process they have usually abandoned the Gospel wholesale.

    That Jim Wallis is a liar is hardly surprising though. The man doesn’t even bother with the sheep’s clothing anymore does he?

    Jason Rennie

  10. Murray,

    The Uniting Church is all but irrelevant. Their membership will collapse to zero within half a generation.

    Yes, I think the Baptists will be one to watch. I recently heard that the Baptist Union is on the verge of approving gay relationships. (not sure if it was a reliable source…)

    What I am after, though, is a list of prominent church leaders who are vocally advocating Leftist values. Are there any equivalents in Australia to Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis? Or are they still, for the time being, a bunch of “faceless men”? I guess Frank Brennan might be one such example, but I don’t get the impression he has much of an influence over protestant evangelicals.

    Jereth Kok

  11. Thanks Jereth

    There would be plenty in the mainline denominations, but think John Smith, Tim Costello, etc. as evangelicals of the left.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  12. The fact that the predominantly Baptist organizers for the last “Black Stump” conference invited Brian Mclaren as a speaker is not a positive sign either. Tim Costello and Cardinal Pell were speakers at the World Parliament of Religions heresy fest in Melbourne last year. Christians need to exercise their discernment muscles in this day of apostasy.
    Glenn Christopherson

  13. Thanks Jereth

    He headed up the Christian motorcycle group, the God Squad, among other things. Like Tim, he is good in some areas, but really far left in many others. For example, Tim is quite strong on the gambling issue, and John, because of his work with street kids, has been quite strong on the need for kids to have their own mum and dad. These two, like their two counterparts in America, would claim to be Bible-believing evangelicals, but their far left stance on so many other issues is a worry.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  14. From what I gather, Tim Costello is quite alright on the question of abortion and the natural mum-and-dad family. Actually, with him the danger lies more with his rejection of the substitutionary atonement, and his tendency towards universalism (i.e. God can be approached through non-Christian religions). He is more of a religious heterodox than he is a social Lefty.
    Jereth Kok

  15. Hi Jereth and Murray,

    Despite the dearth of big name religious lefties in Australia, I believe this movement still provides much succour to secularist goals. Primarily it allows legislators to cherry pick the ‘Christian’ submissions to their plans, and then claim that after consultation they have found they have the church’s support for their diversity / equal opportunity / religious vilification legislation. This has the effect of fooling and hence silencing both uniformed Christians and the world at large which believes this legislation cannot therefore be too bad.

    Mansel Rogerson

  16. Thanks Jereth

    On a number of occasions he has blasted Christians who are hung up on “personal morality” issues like abortion, homosexuality, pornography, etc.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  17. In 1969, Malcolm Muggeridge in the first chapter of his book, “ Jesus Rediscovered,” speaking about his experiences, whilst still a boy and as a young reporter, of meeting churchmen who had become allied with socialism, wrote,

    “The clergymen and ministers who were prepared to join with us on this basis conformed to a type, rare- enough then, but now prevalent, if not pretty well universal, in all denominations, with the possible exception of the Roman Catholics, though since Pope John’s Ecumenical Council, multiplying rapidly among them, too. They visited us from time to time, and I can remember them well: men in black suits, pipe- smokers for the most part; a bit restless in the places, fidgety, and somehow- how can I put? Course and ‘ physical’; their breathing heavy, their tongues very red and their lips very full, their laughter and their talk over- eager. I found them repulsive. They represented, one can now see, the beginning of powerful tide which was to sweep through the churches, transforming exhortation into demagogy, creeds into political programmes, and transcendentalism into utopianism. All we wanted of them was that they should grace our gatherings with their cloth, and this they prepared to do. Behind their backs, we ridiculed their compliance and gullibility, but to their faces we were polite and respectful. My own feelings about them was crystallised in Moscow in the early thirties when I had occasion to show one of them around an anti- God museum. As we moved from one exhibit to another, pausing before the books displayed long enough for their blasphemous titles to be translated, I wondered when a sense of shock or disapproval would register on his amiable countenance. It never did; with his broad expanse of clerical collar shining in the late autumn sunshine, departed, even more cheerfully than he came.”

    Muggeridge goes on to write,

    “I have come to regard clerical Christianity and its officers as totally farcical – as Kierkegaard puts it, a folding screen behind which the Christian evades the real strenuousness of being Christian. Momentarily I have to admit, with Protestant romanticism I toyed with the notion that the Roman Catholic Church, with its longer tradition, tougher discipline and more rigid doctrine, would prove an exception, and manage to resist the Gadarene slide on which the other denominations has embarked so blithely and disastrously. How mistaken I was! Already most of the Nonconformist denominations are at their last gasp, and the Church of England is sustained only by the ostensible importance that is derived from its connection with the state.”

    What would Muggeridge have to say about our monarch, Queen Elizabeth 11 reneging time after time on her Coronation Oath which was to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ and its ministers?

    The Archbishop of Canterbury: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?”

    The Queen: “All this I promise to do. The things which I have here before promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God.”

    David Skinner, UK

  18. Yes, David Skinner, we have long had reason to wonder what actually the Queen thinks about things, and why she has not done at least a little to halt the C of E’s decline into revisionism, and compliance to the secular-materialist statism that rules us. Perhaps she was brought up, and later pressured, to believe that her very first concern and duty must be to preserve the monarchy/her own status/the House of Windsor – which she would certainly not have done if she had in any way stood out against the drift of the times, and the Church/country’s slow self-immolation. Keeping her coronation vows, regarding Christianity, would surely have cost her her throne.
    John Thomas, UK

  19. Bill,

    Not being a Baptist, I knew little re: Tim Costello. The Baptists (QLD Baptist Union) I have known in QLD have all been “solid” re: moral issues, so I thought I’d google Tim Costello …

    “… I think that certainly tells me that we in the church have said oh this is just some plot of people who have chosen this lifestyle and they’re aiming to break up morality and family is actually wrong and I think the God of Jesus never judges people for things that are predetermined or things that are actually within their own makeup and therefore my position on that is to say in relationships where sexuality is expressed there must be real trust and ultimately real commitment which finally is what marriage is but certainly to actually say there’s going to be a lightening bolt to hit you because you’re gay that’s not the God I believe in.” –

    If that accurately reflects his opinion then Tim Costello is not a Christian!?

    Graeme Cumming

  20. Thanks Graeme

    Sadly there would be many such statements from him on the public record. At the very least, it makes one wonder about his commitment to Scripture. But there would be plenty of other Baptists and evangelicals who are caving in big time on this issue.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  21. Bill, I really enjoy your wonderful articles, and your output is magnificent. But when are you you going to acknowledge that Protestantism comprises over 14,000 denominations? In other words, are you ever going to acknowledge the purity and relevance of Catholic and Orthodox theology and their clear primacy in the Christian debate. So many Christian sects have been led astray by people that we need to focus on those who have not. The trouble as I see it is that Christians and like-minded people are not formally united in the face of the most deadly threat since the Comintern. The opposition are formidable and increase every year via the the atheist offspring of Protestant dissidents. Most Australians are the are secular or atheist offspring of the now defunct Protestant movement in Australia. To paraphrase a notable example, can modern Australia survive these non-theists?
    Dennis Ryan

  22. Thanks Dennis

    But sadly you take away with one hand what you offer with the other. Am I am favour of working together with other believers against our real foes? Absolutely. I am doing it here all the time. I may have as many Catholic readers here as Protestant. And I also have Orthodox readers and non-Christian readers as well.

    I have stated this before, and must state it again: If people want to engage in their sectarian bigotry, they are invited to go elsewhere. There are hundreds of Catholic sites specialising in bashing Protestants, just as there are hundreds of Protestant sites specialising in bashing Catholics. I am not into that.

    I make no bones about the fact that I am a Protestant evangelical. I am fully aware of the major theological differences there are between us and Catholics, and it is not my intention to minimise those or pretend they do not exist. Yet I am still quite happy to work with all sorts of people against some greater enemies. The real question is, are you?

    And please spare us the impression that everything is sweetness and light in the Catholic world, and that it is somehow a monolithic unity. There is just as much division, disunity and schism in the Catholic world as there is in the Protestant world. Given that perhaps 80 – 90 per cent of Catholics worldwide do not even practice the teachings of, say, Humanae Vitae, let alone even know what is in the 1968 encyclical, it is a bit rich for you to attack Protestants about division, etc.

    And given that your comment is not even on topic here, I expect to see no more of such remarks, thanks.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  23. After all your quotations of Malcolm Muggeridge, David, you did not mention that he actually did become Catholic (or did I miss it?) in his later years. The Catholic Church with all its sins and warts held the answer he sought through his life. Yes, we are a sinful lot and do not claim otherwise, but, after we fall, we clamber up and try to keep on following Christ. The enormous damage that was done to the Church, both during and since, Vatican ll is gently, wisely and carefully being restored to its former fervent days by our beloved Pope Benedict XVl. It is obvious how Christianity must become the way of the free world.- United we stand, Divided we fall. The way things are today, we are falling and failing rapidly to hold civilization together. It would help a lot of people if they tried to get to know what the Catholic Church really is – from the inside. No use trying to understand it from the books and teachings of those on the outside who have never experienced the inside. It is like voting for the same party because your parents always voted for that party while not becoming familiar with what that candidate truly stands for. May God Bless Australia.
    Maureen Heron

  24. In addition (and response to Graeme C.), though I fear this stream is too old for further comment, in discussing the skin of Christianity of certain public figures I offer the following. Is it not true that to be a Christian one must be a follower of Christ? I never remember reading in scripture where Christ said : “you may …. if you like”. He was pretty direct in His words of instruction and likewise in His inspired words given down to us by His disciples. So Mr. Costello is what we call a “cafeteria Christian”. He picks the bits he likes and rejects those he does not like. Nowhere in the Bible does it say ‘ men can lie with men’ or ‘women can lie with women’, to the contrary. Marriage therefore is only as history has shown, from long before the existence of governments, a covenant between a man and a woman. Just because certain people like to sound ‘nice’ and say that what two homosexuals feel for each other can be the equivalent is way off line. In other words, it is NOT Christian teaching. Therein is your answer.
    Maureen Heron

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