Sojourners Magazine’s Deafening Silence

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In light of one of the most critical issues of our day, in a decision that all Christians should be concerned with, this is what Jim Wallis and Sojourner’s Magazine—a magazine that bills itself as concerned with justice issues for those who have no voice— has to say about the starvation death of a brain-damaged woman in Florida:

Schiavo & Sojourners

Update 3/25/05:

Ironically, just today Sojourners put up a post on their main page discussing end of life issues (although it requires a free registration to their mailing list in order to read it.) Nothing in the article directly refers to Terri Schiavo, but does discuss the issue of “Persistent Vegetative State.” Sadly, the article does not seem to take any one position, entertaining all options.

Although the date on the post is 3/24/05, it was not there yesterday when I posted. And still, their search engine reveals no article hits on “Schiavo.” That nothing was published in the past about previous starvation/dehydration attempts against Terri still speaks volumes.

You’d think that Jim Wallis’s new post, “Human Life is a Gift from God,” would address the Schiavo case, but it’s actually an anti-capital punishment commentary. Wallis chooses to plead for leniency for criminals (with the rationale that some might actually not be), but chooses to make no commentary on the gift of life that is being cruelly taken from Terri Schiavo.

However, in what must be the most craven quote (and choice of quote to highlight) I’ve seen about the Schiavo case, the online version of Sojourners has this listed as their Quote of the Week:

The case is full of great ironies. A large part of Terri’s hospice costs are paid by Medicaid, a program that the administration and conservatives in Congress would sharply reduce. Some of her other expenses have been covered by the million-dollar proceeds of a malpractice suit – the kind of suit that President Bush has fought to scale back.
—NPR commentator Daniel Schorr

I don’t even know how to respond to Schorr or Sojourners in their decision to cast this as their “Quote of the Week.” It seems so bereft of morality, so ignorant of the humanity of Terri, as to defy comment.

12 thoughts on “Sojourners Magazine’s Deafening Silence

  1. The magnitude of the silence is made all the more chilling by the fact that over a thousand references come back for a search on the word “peace.”

    So it is not like the Sojourner’s site is wanting for articles.

  2. QUOTE: “Peace? Why in the world would they talk about that?”

    My point is to show that if they have over a thousand search hits on their Web site for one word, it’s not like they are hurting for a breadth of reference material on the site. This is to damp the idea that the reason the search on Schiavo returned nothing was that there wasn’t much on the site on ANY topic.

  3. Anonymous,

    I’m not slandering anyone if I am simply pointing out the very odd silence of a group of people whose whole reason for being is to chronicle issues like this one.

    Let’s pretend that an organization called “Tsunami Trackers” exists. It’s a Christian organization whose sole purpose is to track tsunamis and help people who have suffered because of one. The great Indonesian tsunami strikes in December of 2004, but “Tsunami Trackers” Web site says nothing about it. Nor does there appear to be any effort by the group to go to Indonesia to help the tsunami’s victims.

    Worse still, what if the Tsunami Trackers Web site talked about discrimination against Muslim and how it was a terrible thing, but then could not explain their silence in helping the primarily Muslim victims of the tsunami? Wouldn’t that get people’s heads scratching?

    Don’t you find that highly odd? What could possibly motivate this group to ignore their whole reason for existing? If someone points out that Tsunami Trackers is nowhere to be found in the aftermath of a tsunami, is that slander?

    Sojourners whole reason for existing is to give voice to people who cannot speak for themselves, to argue for justice for those people, and to campaign for them. No one on this planet fulfills their target victim better than Terri Schiavo. But they refuse to come to her aid, casting this not as the plight of a person, but as a political issue—one they stand to lose on if they seem overly chummy with the party they have often opposed. If that isn’t hypocrisy, then I don’t know what is.

  4. Anonymous

    The silence is not odd and they weren’t silent.

    Your tsunami analogy betrays the falsehood that makes your passive-aggressive attack on your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ at Sojourners slanderous/libelous. Sojourners responds to the massive “tsunamis” that strike the people of the earth every day. The fact that they didn’t drop everything and immediately focus all of their energy on the “tsunami” that hit one woman does not show that they are hypocrites or politically motivated.

    If I were in their shoes I would have avoided this situation with a ten-foot pole as well because it was made so political and both the facts and morality of the situation were anything but clear.

    Like this whole ugly situation your post makes a nice political tract but morality and Kingdom living are taking a back seat to political exploitation, rhetoric, and the opportunity to smear your perceived enemies.

  5. QUOTE: “The silence is not odd and they weren’t silent.”

    Considering the focus of Sojourners and the fact that not a single article appeared on the Schiavo case is both odd and silent. You have not shown anyone otherwise.

    QUOTE: “The fact that they didn’t drop everything and immediately focus all of their energy on the “tsunami” that hit one woman does not show that they are hypocrites or politically motivated.”

    1. Again, not a single article on the Schiavo case—one of the most important justice issues of our time. I am not asking for five hundred articles. But what explains not a single one in the course of history of this case dating back almost fifteen years?

    2. The choice to use Schorr’s quote as their “Quote of the Week” in which nothing is argued for Terri’s life, but everything is argued against President Bush, could not be any more politically motivated. Nothing of what Schorr said had anything to do with giving justice to Terri Schiavo and everything to do with picking a ridiculously inopportune time to slam the Bush administration.

    It is obvious to me that we will not see eye-to-eye on this. Just as Paul called out Peter for caving to the Judaizers, I am calling out Sojourners. They need to be called out for their silence.

  6. Anonymous

    QUOTE: Considering the focus of Sojourners and the fact that not a single article appeared on the Schiavo case is both odd and silent. You have not shown anyone otherwise. Again, not a single article on the Schiavo case…. I am not asking for five hundred articles. But what explains not a single one in the course of history of this case dating back almost fifteen years?

    A case dating back fifteen years, yes. But a case that is not at all uncommon and was all but invisible until it snowballed into the media event that it has become in the last month. Your search was of the magazine archives. Sojourners is a monthly mag. Why is it such a disgrace that a story only very recently exploded on the national news scene does not appear in their archives? Try searching for �euthanasia,� �end of life,� or �physician assisted suicide.� They have not been silent on this issue.

    The case is mentioned in their recent weekly newsletters. You’re right in saying that it’s not portrayed as “one of the most important justice issues of our time”, but that’s because it’s not. It’s a tragedy, yes. But it’s been politicized and transformed into a club to bludgeon opponents with and a real moral discussion is all but impossible. This thread is an example of that.

    QUOTE: The choice to use Schorr’s quote as their “Quote of the Week” in which nothing is argued for Terri’s life, but everything is argued against President Bush, could not be any more politically motivated. Nothing of what Schorr said had anything to do with giving justice to Terri Schiavo and everything to do with picking a ridiculously inopportune time to slam the Bush administration.

    To those who do not believe that this was “one of the most important justice issues of our time” but was a terrible tragedy and very important case hijacked by ideologues and political opportunists (i.e. those who see the dying forest rather than the one tree we’ve decided to enshrine and protect) the quote is not at all inappropriate. There�s no untruth in it and, as Mr. Schorr said, this case is full of irony. But I agree that it was insensitive.

    Quote: Just as Paul called out Peter for caving to the Judaizers, I am calling out Sojourners. They need to be called out for their silence.

    But you’re not calling them out. You’re not challenging them directly. You’re putting words in their mouths and condemning them based on your biased presentation of their position; because they’re not giving the same weight as you to this year’s sacrifice on the national altar of self-righteousness.

  7. Anonymous,

    You make certain assumptions about my political leanings, but I think it would surprise you to learn then that I have no political affiliation. Nor do I have any axe to grind against Sojourners other than the fact that they seem to have lost their center. Sojourners has routinely come to the aid of individuals, but why not Terri?

    Christian publications MUST speak out on this. You may consider this just a political battle, but that is shortsighted. The Schiavo case is NOT a political issue—it is a religious issue and always has been. This makes Sojourners’ lack of comment on the case even more damning since it is not only a justice issue (their raison d’etre #1) but a religious one as well (their raison d’etre #2.)

    It’s hard to find a Christian publication that has NOT said something about the specific case of Terri Schiavo. If you want to talk about Sojourners GENERAL position on similar (but not exact) cases to Terri’s, their position today is this: None. They take no position other to say that it’s a difficult one. Yes, in 1997 they ran an article against physician-assisted suicide, but this is not a physician-assisted suicide case. The recent article on PVS that came out a day after my initial post takes no stand. Is that the best they can do? Does God take no stand on this?

    That’s all too convenient, if you ask me. By taking no stand, Sojourners does not alienate their base. But this is not what the Lord asks.

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