Liberal religious types create new organization

Most everyone agrees that one of the big failures for Democrats in the last election was the absence of an aggressive and visible liberal religious antidote to provide a counterbalance to the Christian fundamentalist right. Time and again the D's were framed as the anti-religious party, and there was very little reframing in response.

However, there are some activities percolating that could change this dynamic. One new group, the Christian Alliance for Progress (CAP) describes itself as a grassroots organisation with plans for a national membership. According to William Fisher, writing for Inter Press Service, "CAP's core principles include commitments to economic justice, environmental stewardship, equality for homosexuals, effective prevention -- but not criminalisation -- of abortion, peaceful solutions to international disputes, and universal health care for all U.S. citizens."

Its stance on abortion supposedly mirrors the softer approach recently taken by some Democrats, such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, "that abortion, while not a good thing, is something that must be available but rare."

"For years, we've been hearing the name of Christianity be used to speak about hatred, division, war and greed," said Patrick Mrotek, the health management consultant who founded the group.

There is talk of chapters, and the claim of more than 4,000 members at this juncture. In an effort to grab attention and take a clear stand, the group issued what it calls "The Jacksonville Declaration" -- an open letter to leaders of the religious right. The declaration was read in front of the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. The pastor of that church, Jerry Vines, made headlines in 2002 when he described the Prophet Muhammad as a "demon-possessed pedophile." The new group is making a point of highlighting statements by right-wing religious leaders that seem clearly out of whack with the spirit of the Bible's teachings.

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