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Evangelicals Open Debate On Widening Policy Questions

This is a good thing, as the NAE now has as much or more influence as the older National Council of Churches ever had. Here is excerpts from the the London paper, The Day:

"Evangelicals Open Debate On Widening Policy Questions

The National Association of Evangelicals, with 30 million members in 45,000 churches, opened a debate on Thursday on a document intended to expand the political platform of evangelicals beyond the fight against abortion and same-sex marriage.

The authors of the paper, “For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility,” said they reached a consensus between liberals and conservatives by adopting public policy goals, but not prescribing strategies to achieve them. At a luncheon held by the association on Thursday on Capitol Hill, however, some evangelical leaders voiced concern that the new platform could dilute the focus of the evangelical movement by taking on too many issues. The document urges evangelicals to address issues like racial injustice, religious freedom, poverty in the United States and abroad, human rights, environmentalism and advancing peace through nonviolent conflict resolution.

The “Evangelical Call” is an effort to bridge some of the fault lines running through the evangelical world, between Republicans and Democrats, between those who welcome political involvement and those who shun it and between those who say social problems are a result of personal sin and those who say they are a result of systemic inequity.

“Evangelicals have sometimes been accused of having a one- or two-item political agenda,” said the Rev. Ronald J. Sider, who helped draft the document and is the president of Evangelicals for Social Action, a group affiliated with the liberal wing. “This document makes it very clear that a vast body of evangelicals today reject a one-issue approach.”

Barbara Williams-Skinner, president of the Skinner Leadership Institute, a Christian training center in Tracy's Landing, Md., criticized evangelicals who decide their votes using abortion and same-sex marriage as a litmus test.

“The litmus test is the Gospel, the whole of it,” said Williams-Skinner, an African-American who told the group that she is a Democrat who opposes abortion.
Williams-Skinner was the sole speaker to draw a standing ovation.

Critics indicated that the new smorgasbord approach could hit resistance.

Tom Minnery, vice president of Focus on the Family, an influential ministry based in Colorado Springs, stood up at the luncheon and warned the other leaders, “Do not make this about global warming. The issues of marriage, the issues of pro-life are the issues that define us to this day.”
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