Can you imagine CNN providing live coverage to a Republican presidential candidates forum before a conference put on by the Family Research Council? Or would CNN worry that their coverage was promoting the FRC event and adding heft to the FRC’s national image? Flip that scenario to a group on the religious left, and you have the reality of CNN’s announcement that they will air a forum for the top three Democrat contenders at a conference organized by Sojourners, a group of "progressive Christians" who want more government aid to the poor and less money for the "disastrous" war in Iraq. CNN announced in a press release:
CNN will serve as the exclusive broadcaster of a presidential candidate forum on faith, values and politics during the Sojourners "Pentecost 2007" conference in Washington, D.C. The event will be held Monday, June 4, on the campus of The George Washington University, and CNN will broadcast the forum live during the 7 p.m. (ET) hour of The Situation Room.
The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners and author of the best selling book God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, has invited Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama to share their ideas and proposals about pressing social issues with a special emphasis on poverty. Wallis also invited CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien to moderate the forum.
Sojourners, which is the largest network of progressive Chistians in the nation, was founded in inner-city Washington, D.C., in 1971.
On his Beliefnet blog, Wallis made his left-wing agenda quite clear, explaining that he wanted to see the presidential contenders pressed for less guns and more butter:
We will issue a prophetic challenge to put poverty near the top of the political agenda, asking the candidates to present the nation with their plans for dramatic poverty reduction both at home and globally. Before I decide how to vote in 2008, I want to know what the candidates plan to do for 13 million children living in poverty, 47 million Americans with no health insurance, and 3 billion people around the world who live on under $2 a day. Behind those numbers are human faces and moral tragedies – stories of working families desperately trying to make ends meet, immigrant families being torn apart, and children all over the world going to bed hungry.
I want presidential candidates to hear those stories and commit to making a difference in the lives of poor people in the United States and around the globe. And I want to know how they’re going to pay for it, given a ballooning military budget and a disastrous war in Iraq with no end in sight.
In another recent blog post, Wallis expressed happiness that evangelical mega-church pastor Rick Warren was stressing aid to the poor, but eschewed individual acts of charity when what was really needed was "structural changes" for social justice, or socialism:
He's helping to guide a shift among religious conservatives that should not go without notice or welcome. I pray that this movement keeps moving - beyond personal changes that produce acts of charity (where it always begins) to structural changes that bring about social justice. The criticism Warren alludes to - that conservative activists seem to care more about unborn children than about those living and suffering in poverty - has often been accurate.
Wallis proclaimed his intention of also holding a forum for Republican candidates. Let's hope they skip over events on the socialist schedule. Unless CNN also hosts an event for a major conservative conference, we can infer that they believe that only the one "progressive Christian" side at Sojourners and its agenda is worth promoting with their air time.