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Event Summary

How should people care for their neighbors and serve the “common good?” An elected official, a theologian, and a think-tank president gathered at AEI on Thursday to discuss competing answers to this ancient, enduring question. Jim Wallis, author of the newly released book “On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good,” argued that polarization in the US capitol is destroying the common good, perhaps more than ever before. He stressed that organizations from all sectors should collectively seek the well-being of their cities, and called for political leaders and citizens to go “not left or right, but deeper.”

Rep. Frank Wolf encouraged policymakers on both sides of the aisle to approach issues regarding the poor with the kind of faith and conviction that has animated the Judeo-Christian tradition for millennia. He emphasized that elected leaders should attempt to regain the trust of American communities by pursuing common-sense policies in areas that serve the vulnerable, calling particular attention to hunger, religious persecution, human trafficking, and prison reform.

AEI President Arthur Brooks concluded the discussion by underscoring the need to reform entitlements, since the failure to do so will ultimately lead to austerity measures that will hit the poor the hardest. Alternatively, by strengthening the free enterprise system, said Brooks, we can maximize human liberty, increase opportunity, and provide the best life for the most people.

Event Description

Americans across the political spectrum place a great deal of importance on caring for those in need and avoiding harm to the weak. Yet political leaders, religious leaders, and the public pursue these shared moral values in sharply different ways. In his new book “On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good” (Brazos Press, April 2013), Jim Wallis seeks to transcend some of these divisions by recovering an ancient moral vision of the common good.

What is a biblically informed view of caring for the poor, orphaned, and widowed? What shared commitments do we have as citizens and neighbors to care for one another?  And how can a proper ordering of America’s political economy enable the most people — including the vulnerable — to have the best life? At this event, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a longtime champion of human rights causes, and AEI President Arthur Brooks will join Wallis in addressing these and other questions.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event life on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


11:45 AM
Registration and Luncheon

12:00 PM
Arthur C. Brooks

12:10 PM
Frank Wolf, US House of Representatives (R–VA)

12:25 PM
Jim Wallis, Sojourners

12:45 PM
Question-and-Answer Session
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

1:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Greg Lane at [email protected], 202.862.4879.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.


Speaker Biographies

Arthur C. Brooks has been the president of AEI since January 1, 2009. Previously, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to military operations research. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012). Other books include “The Battle” (Basic Books, May 2010), “Gross National Happiness” (Basic Books, 2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice-Hall, 2008) and “Who Really Cares” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, is a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He recently served on the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and currently serves as the chair of the Global Agenda Council on Faith for the World Economic Forum. His two most recent books are “On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good” (Brazos Press, April 2013) and “Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street — A Moral Compass for the New Economy” (Howard Books, 2011). His two previous books, “The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post–Religious Right America” (HarperOne, 2008) and “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It” (HarperSanFransisco, 2005) were both New York Times bestsellers.

Frank Wolf, the most senior of the 11 members of the US House of Representatives from Virginia, is serving his 17th term in Congress. He represents the 10th District of Virginia, which stretches from McLean to Winchester. Rep. Wolf sits on the House Appropriations Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.  He also serves on the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; and the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee.  He is the cochairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan organization made up of members of Congress who work together to raise awareness about international human rights issues.


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