Speaker says divisions among Christians eroding their commitment to the poor

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2002

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) -- Infighting among Christians has distracted religious leaders, preventing them from fulfilling their duty to help the poor, according to a speaker at the Community of Christ world conference.

Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal Sojourners religious magazine, compared the divisions among Christians to those among gangs. He said he saw a lesson for religious leaders in a gang peace summit he attended, where rivals threw off their colors and vowed to work together to improve the community.

''If Crips and Bloods can get together, why can't the evangelicals and the liberals, the blacks and the whites come together?'' Wallis said in his April 7 speech. ''We sometimes behave like gangs, and our children are falling through the cracks.''

Wallis has organized the Call to Renewal, a national coalition of church groups working to fight poverty. The Community of Christ -- formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- participates in Wallis' program.

Thousands of people representing about 50 countries attended the Community of Christ's world conference this week at its Independence headquarters. The church claims a worldwide membership of 250,000.



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