PoliticsNation | November 16, 2012
>>> as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. what we can do is make sure that middle class taxes don't go up.
>> president obama vowed earlier this week to make sure taxes don't go up for 98% of americans. and today at the white house , he told the congressional leaders and others that he would hold firm on his pledge. but he also said he's open to new ideas that could help fix some of the nation's financial challenges. i was at the white house today joined by a number of other activists and civic leaders for a meeting with the president. it was a candid and fruitful with a clear message that working people and middle class people and poor people won't get left behind . joining me now, reverend jim wallace , president and ceo of sojourners. he was also in the meeting today. thanks for being here, jim. the president looked like he means business to us. 12 of us met with him. he was very free with his time. seemed firm. what did you take away from the meeting?
>> it was a serious and substantial conversation i thought. al, we're not facing a battle over a fiscal cliff as they say as much as a battle over the fiscal soul of this nation. we need a pathway to financial sustainability, but will it include all of us or not? will it include those white sox jesus called the least of these, is poorest and vulnerable and the issue of biblical fairness is here. should we now really give a tax breaking to 98% of the american people , working families especially low income families and kids. doesn't that make sense? isn't that fair and the wealthy pay their fair share . so for us, this isn't just a political issue. there are religious issues involved here. and i raised those today at the white house with the president.
>> it's a lot of drama back and forth outside, but the president seemed real calm. he seemed firm. he listened to each one of us. we went back and forth, agreements, disagreements. but he seemed very calm and resolute that the 98% of america should not have to pay higher taxes just to hold them hostage for 2% to continue to get their tax cut . i think that's one thread that we saw firm by the president, a very calm but definite way.
>> and again, for many of us, this isn't a partisan issue. it's a fairness issue. we're talking about most of the american people needing some help, some time to recover here. and the wealthy should pay their fair share . the bible is pretty clear about all this. the circle of protection which i'm a part of, includes the catholic bishops, the national association of evangelicals , the salvation army . this is not a religious left group or a partisan group. we're saying that how we treat the poorest and most are vulnerable is a fundamental principle for the health of our nation. and the president made that clear today. he was going to protect the poor and vulnerable and from the faith point of view, that's a very healthy thing to be committed to.
>> now, you mentioned evangelicals and the circle of protection.
>> reverend franklin graham, who says he speaks for a lot of evangelicals. let me show you what he said on news max tv .
>> in the last 40 years, we have taken our -- we've begun to turn our backs on god. we've taken him out of the education system and government and allowed ourself to take god out of everything that we do. and i believe god will judge our nation one day. maybe god will have to bring our nation down to our knees to where you just have a complete economic collapse and maybe at that point, maybe people will begin again to call upon the name of almighty god .
>> what do you respond to that?
>> it's very sad to see a religious leader using concerns that christians have for such partisan purposes which is what franklin graham is doing. i want to bring god into the midst of this conversation about fairness and justice and how we treat the vulnerable. but i think this partisan manipulation of religion, i'm an evangelical and what's clear now is that evangelical will no longer mean white evangelical and franklin graham has to get used to that. evangelical is hispanic, african-americans, asians, didn't vote the way he did this time by a large majority. so we brought other issues into the election like how we treat the poor, how we treat the environment, how we welcome strangers. you in evangelicals last week writing the president last week saying how we treat the immigrant undocumented people is for us a biblical issue. we're going to write them again this week, the president and say who are serving the poor at christmastime and thanksgiving we're involved in that. those of us who are doing that are going to say to our members of congress don't make decisions that make the poor poorer and make our work harder. so you might say we're doing turkey baskets for the poor than baskets of letters to our some of our turkeys who represent us in congress.
>> the moral majority for so longing had sway with partisan sway. do you think that their influence has waned? is that over now.
>> here's the big change. the religious right for a long time tried to control the meaning of the word evangelical and make it a partisan political word. it's not. it's a theological term. it's about following jesus christ. it's about taking the bible seriously. and the issues there are one or two issues doesn't do that. so we're talking about evangelical now with a much broader meaning. evangelical means good news to the poor. and if it isn't good news to poor people , it isn't the gospel of jesus. franklin graham needs to read his bible more carefully. he would find 2,000 verses in the bible about how betreat poor people . that's what it means to be evangelical . his narrow view i think is coming to an end.
>> reverend evangelist jim wall p is, thank you for coming in. coming up, the evolution of a right wing smear.