Correcting his initial comments denying the charge, Rev. Jim Wallis of the left-leaning Christian group Sojourners has acknowledged that his organization received grants from the Open Society Institute (OSI). Funded by the financial speculator George Soros, the OSI is a backer of many political causes including legal abortion and homosexual activism.
Marvin Olasky, a writer with the evangelical publication WORLD Magazine, had reported that Sojourners, an inter-denominational Christian organization which backs left-leaning political issues, received several hundred thousand dollars from Soros' OSI.
In an interview with Timothy Dalrymple of the Patheos website, Wallis denied that claim. He compared Olasky to radio and television show host Glenn Beck who in Wallis’ view “lies for a living.”
“No, we don’t receive our money from 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.”
Tax documents show that Sojourners received a $200,000 OSI grant in October, 2004 to support a “messaging and mobilization project” intended to engage Christians on the importance of civic involvement. The grant came after a 2003 financial statement showed the organization had a negative asset balance of more than $57,000. That statement also reported the group adopted a strategy to generate “additional sources of revenue.”
Other records show another $125,000 in grants received from the foundation.
A statement from Sojourners communications manager Tim King acknowledged the funding, while Wallis said he “should have declined to comment” until he had checked the information. Wallis characterized the OSI grants as making up “the tiniest fraction of Sojourners’ funding during that decade” and as being “so small that I hadn’t remembered them.”
He also said the claim about his organization’s OSI funding was made in “the spirit of accusation… that Sojourners is beholden to funders on the political left, which is false.”
Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), claimed the initial denials and subsequent confirmation of Soros funding is “a revealing turning point for the evangelical left.”
“Long insisting he represents a mysterious Christian 'third way' more enlightened than the old Religious Right, Wallis now stands exposed as what he always was: a man of the political left,” Tooley commented in a Monday statement.
He also charged that Wallis has “always allied himself with secular leftist groups hostile to the historic Church,” claiming that Wallis was an activist with the Students for a Democratic Society and had championed the “Marxist Sandinistas” in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
EWTN News spoke with Sojourners’ Tim King in a Tuesday phone call. While King could not provide an immediate response to Tooley’s charges, he again confirmed that Sojourners has in the past received funding from the Open Society Institute. He also reported that a further statement would be forthcoming.