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World News: Evangelicals, Progressives Find Common Ground


A U.S. evangelical-progressive coalition has developed an agenda aimed at moving beyond past divisions on hot-button social issues to seek policy changes on abortion, torture, and other issues.

After two years of discussion, the coalition has concluded that their "Come, Let Us Reason Together" agenda will include reducing abortion, protecting employment rights of gays and lesbians, renouncing torture, and reforming immigration laws.

"We offer the president and leaders of Congress on both sides of the aisle a road map on how to put an end to the culture wars, to move the country beyond the ugliness and stagnation of distrust and divide," said Rachel Laser, culture program director of the Third Way, a Washington progressive think tank, which spearheaded  the coalition.

Evangelical leaders who do not condone gay marriage said they could nonetheless support greater workplace protections for gays and lesbians, provided there is an exemption for faith-based employers.

"Though I focus on the ideal for marriage as between one man and one woman . . . I also believe that each American citizen has the right to earn a living without discrimination," said Florida megachurch pastor Rev. Joel Hunter.

The abortion-reduction component of the agenda includes helping prevent unintended pregnancies, supporting pregnant women, and expanding support for adoption. The opposition to torture includes a call for the U.S. to forbid any interrogation methods it does not want used against Americans. The immigration reform component calls for secure borders, an "earned path to citizenship," and a guest worker program that fills jobs but doesn't create a disadvantage for American workers.

The effort has been welcomed by organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and People for the American Way, and religious leaders such as Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw.


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