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Press Release

01/15/09

Longtime Foes Unite To Bring An End To The Culture Wars

Evangelical and Progressive Leaders Release “Common Values” Agenda Covering Gay Rights, Abortion, Immigration Reform, and Torture

Washington, DC – For decades, many Evangelical and progressive leaders have been stuck in a divisive and corrosive war over cultural issues. But today, seizing on a new political moment, emissaries of these historic adversaries have come together to send a letter to the President-elect and congressional leaders offering “a shared vision and a plan for ending the culture wars.”

The Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda breaks new ground by uniting key Evangelical and progressive leaders behind specific policy recommendations on abortion, gay rights, torture, and immigration reform – ground zero in the nation’s culture wars. Specifically, the agenda calls for:

Reducing abortions by preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting pregnant women and new families, and increasing support for adoption.

Protecting the rights of gay and lesbian people to earn a living by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees based on sexual orientation so long as there is an exemption for faith-based employers.

Renouncing torture through an unequivocal statement that calls on government to forbid cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment against prisoners.

Supporting immigration reform that paves the way to an earned path to citizenship for most undocumented residents.

The common ground agenda is the culmination of two years of work led by the progressive think tank Third Way, Evangelical religious leaders like the Reverend Joel C. Hunter and Dr. David Gushee, religion scholar Dr. Robert P. Jones and the religious group Faith in Public Life.

“The culture wars have been characterized by vilifying those who differ from us on provocative issues and treating them as traitors and threats. I believe we can end those wars by thinking of our differences as ways we can learn from each other and advance without compromising core values,” said Reverend Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Florida and one-time President-elect of the Christian Coalition.

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you decide to listen rather than stereotype others,” agreed Rachel Laser, Director of Third Way’s Culture Program, the lead organization behind the effort. “We found that woven within our differing views was a thread of common values like human dignity, optimism, and pragmatism. We found that there is a way forward even on the most divisive issues in ways that can unite us as a nation.”

The signatories intend to gather support for their common values agenda through extensive outreach to the Obama Administration, Congress, issue groups, religious organizations, and churches. Several of the lead signatories are meeting today with congressional members of the Faith Working Group and Obama transition officials. And the group is drafting a manual for Evangelical pastors that will go out to congregation leaders.

“There are rare opportunities in each generation when the wind shifts and the spirit moves, when people of good will can act together for real change,” wrote the signatories. “The four common ground policies represent the fruits of a two-year process of deliberation, governed by the spirit of civility from the biblical injunction, ‘Come let us reason together’.”

The lead signatories include Rachel Laser of Third Way, Reverend Joel C. Hunter, Dr. David Gushee, Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, Dr. Ronald J. Sider, religion scholar Dr. Robert P. Jones, who advised Third Way throughout the process, and Katie Paris of Faith in Public Life.

Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda materials can be found on Third Way’s website.

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Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212


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