In an effort to counteract the influence of the religious right, new groups are emerging from the direction of the religious left and center. The National Catholic Reporter (Jan. 23) notes that the fledgling Center for American Progress plans to energize the secular and religious left through using techniques such as media publicity first honed by the right.
Former staffer with the Clinton administration John Podesta says the group plans to focus on foreign policy as well as to “engage and reengage with religious people who come from the progressive tradition.” The recently formed Clergy Leadership Network has received wide publicity for its attempt to bring religious leaders into the activist fray.
The network, headed by former National Council of Churches official Albert Pennybacker, seeks moderate and liberal clergy support and does not plan to address abortion, as it may be too divisive. Instead, issues involving the economy and church-state relations will be stressed; like the Center for American Progress, the network sees itself as speaking up for religious people who have been disenfranchised by the Bush administration and the religious right.
Meanwhile, the moderate Catholic group Your Catholic Voice (YCV) has undergone a noteworthy transformation. First founded as the Catholic Alliance in the mid-1990s as a Catholic sister organization to the Christian Coalition, the group has distanced itself from a religious right agenda. The group has criticized gun rights and has made “solidarity with the poor and needy” one of its pillars. Yet one of YCV’s first actions was to send a petition to lawmakers urging opposition to same-sex marriage.
(National Catholic Reporter, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111-1203)