Thursday, October 11, 2007

Common Ground Requires Both Sides

I was at an all day meeting yesterday sponsored by the Guttmacher Institute on the role of faith based organizations and community based organizations in providing sexuality education, so I missed the release of a new report by the Third Wave Foundation, “Come Let Us Reason Together.”

It’s a long report that purports to be about offering “shared cultural values between evangelicals and progressives”, especially on five sexuality-related issues. I hoped to find a balanced report of a process of finding common ground.

But, it doesn’t even try. The authors are leading evangelicals and people associated with the Third Way Foundation. Although I like and work with one of the authors, I think it’s fair to say that there is scant representation of progressive religious voices in the report. Indeed, although the report includes sections such a “Brief History of Evangelicals” and “Evangelical Views Are More Nuanced than Believed” there is no corresponding history of progressive religion or how progressive religious people’s views are too not the stereotypes so often presented. The Sources listed do not present even a single progressive religious author writing on the five key issues. And needless to say, no one contacted us here at the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing for our input and review. But not just us – the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Religious Coalition on Reproductive Choice, Catholics for a Free Choice, faith based welcoming groups…no, not quoted and probably not consulted either.

I encourage you to read the report, and I think it raises some good issues, specifically about the need for respect and understanding and seeking common ground. I want to take the time to read it throughly, before I write more about how they treat the five issues. (Although as I have written before, I am willing to join in a call for reducing unintended pregnancies but not on reducing abortions, not as long as availability is under attack.)

But for now I have one question for my friends and colleagues at Faith and Public Life: How do you issue a call for common ground that doesn’t include half of the participants in the discussion?

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