Faith and the Middle Ground of Social Policy

Moderate voices have been

People really care
about right and
wrong more than
right and left,
and their antennae
were up about
corruption and the
war in Iraq and
kitchen-table moral
issues — health care
and poverty
— Alexia Kelley

Religious moderates are awakening and finding their voice. Alan Cooperman examines the influence of the religious middle in the midterm elections in an article this morning in the Washington Post.

Cooperman quotes Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, who says “kitchen-table moral issues” such as poverty, health care and the war in Iraq are key to the votes of moderates. I think it’s telling that health and poverty are among four of the major emphases being advanced by the General Secretaries of The United Methodist Church (of which I am one) and similar concerns raised by the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. This denomination is among those identified as the mainline and its agenda for ministry is finding common ground with social policy endorsed by mainstream voters.

Cooperman notes that evangelicals turned out in numbers equal to 2004. This weakens the claim by some evangelical leaders who told him the religious right stayed home because it was fed up with corruption and big spending. He also notes that despite passage of marriage amendments in 7 states, by a smaller majorities than in past elections, stem cell research passed in Missouri, an abortion ban was overturned in South Dakota and a marriage amendment that would have banned gay marriage was rejected in Arizona.

I believe there is a stirring of renewal in the mainline and it’s not about politics, its about a return to living the faith in daily practice that is comprehensive, true to tradition and supported by Christian community (a description of this group by Diana Butler Bass).

And it happens to be compatible with an emerging consensus toward moderation in the wider society.

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