Another day, another faith coalition
Is it my imagination, or are there lots of new faith coalitions and initiatives sprouting up these days?
The newest one, launched on Wednesday, is The Mobilization to End Poverty. Its main driver is Sojourners, which claims to be the biggest group of self-styled “progressive” Christians in the United States.
The coalition will hold a conference in Washington from April 26-29. The organizers describe it as a “a historic gathering where thousands of Christians and antipoverty leaders will engage in a transformative experience of education, worship, community, and activism in Washington, D.C. Together, this powerful group will call on President Obama and the new Congress to make overcoming poverty a political priority and to develop a national plan that addresses this moral and spiritual crisis.”
It would be easy to dismiss this as just another gabfest at which everyone talks about the poor while the caterers put on a good spread.
But it’s noteworthy that many of these initiatives in recent years — such as the Evangelical Climate Initiative – have come from the religious center or left. There have been many such efforts in the past (the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th century springs to mind).
Whether the initiatives from the left/center are as effective politically as the Religious Right has been remains to be seen. The latter at times excelled at pressing its agenda by getting ballot measures passed against gay marriage or by getting the vote out for the Republican Party (or both at the same time).
Dismissed by some commentators as a spent force, the U.S. conservative Christian movement remains an important base for the Republican Party — perhaps its only one at the moment.
Will the “Religious Left” or “Religious Center” become the same for the Democrats? What do you think?
(Photo: A makeshift homeless person’s structure is seen, with General Motors Corp. world headquarters headquarters in the background. A new faith coalition wants to stamp out U.S. poverty REUTERS/Rebecca Cook