Jim Wallis on NPR

Cover ArtJim Wallis, author of the forthcoming America’s Original Sin, was recently interviewed on NPR by Michel Martin.

You can read an excerpt of the interview below, and find the full text and audio here: Parables For Understanding A Nation’s Racial ‘Sin’

WALLIS: When Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, I felt – you might call it the lament of a white father. I knew and the whole country knew that my son Luke – six-foot-tall baseball athlete, going to college next year – had been walking and doing the same thing, same time that Trayvon was doing in Sanford, Fla., everyone knows he would’ve come back. But Trayvon didn’t come back, and so it was a parable. Jesus talked about parables. They teach us things. Michael Brown – Ferguson – was a parable. Charleston was a parable. The parable about where we are as a nation – we have to see our original sin and how it still lingers in our criminal justice system.

MARTIN: And what is the original sin?

WALLIS: Well, the original sin is – I have this sentence in the book – the most controversial sentence I ever wrote – this nation was founded by the near genocide of one people and the kidnapping of another people to build this nation. So slavery and the indigenous destruction of those who were here – that was our original sin. And it still lingers in our criminal justice system – in most of our systems.

And so the book talks about how to go deeply into that to understand what’s happening here and then to see how these events – these shootings of young black men and women losing their lives in custody – are parables. They have to teach us what repentance doesn’t mean just saying you’re sorry. Or feeling guilty means turning and going in a whole different direction.