Magazine article Church & State

Progressive Faith Leaders Regroup, Look to Future

Magazine article Church & State

Progressive Faith Leaders Regroup, Look to Future

Article excerpt

Religious leaders who mounted an unsuccessful bid to resurrect progressive values in the 2004 elections say they refuse to yield the "moral high ground" to conservative Christians who helped President Bush win a second term.

According to Religion News Service, more than two dozen Jewish and Christian progressive faith leaders held a two-day strategy session in Washington in early December, assessing an election in which the vast majority of the voters who cited "moral values" as a top concern went for Bush.

Participants, convened by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said they must refocus on the spiritual roots of their agenda and not allow conservatives to define "moral values" solely around gay marriage and abortion but also health care, education and the environment.

And, in a signal of shifting strategy, participants said they would shun the "progressive" label in favor of "prophetic," which they said implies a greater degree of religious motivation.

"Progressive' sounds like it's an ideological position with values attached," said the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., pastor of New York's Riverside Church, "but 'prophetic' carries with it that you're willing to be (held) accountable by the God you claim to serve."

Forbes said all the post-election introspection about the importance of values "is like cut flowers" that will soon wither unless it is rooted in solid foundations of theology and activist faith.

The session was a follow-up to a June meeting called by John Podesta, a former Clinton White House chief of staff and a Democratic strategist. …

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