Friday, January 16, 2009

False Advertising: Where Are the Progressives?

The headline of the press release reads, "Long Time Foes United to End the Cultural War: Evangelical and Progressive Religious Leaders Come Together." The report is called the "Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda," produced by Third Way and Faith in Public Life.

If only the headline were true. The fact is that this is a report by, in the words of U.S. News and World Report, a "coalition of prominent evangelical leaders." In that it expands their previous call for abortion reduction to include for the first time a call for comprehensive sexuality education and family planning services, it's an important step forward. And since it includes a call for ending job discrimination against gays and lesbians, moving beyond the 2007 call for treating lesbians and gays with dignity, it is a step forward. I'm delighted to know that there are centrist and social evangelicals who are moving forward on these issues.

But it is false advertising to promote this report as evangelical and progressive religious leaders coming together. My colleague, Tim Palmer, was on the press conference call yesterday. Four of the five speakers identified themselves as pro-life; not one affirmed sexual and gender diversity ; and several went out of their way to affirm their anti-marriage equality position (although the report did not mention marriage at all). There are 30 people who have submitted supporting statements for the report; I would call only four of them progressive religious leaders, and only one has a demonstrated, longstanding commitment to women's reproductive choice and LGBT persons.

I have written many times that one cannot label oneself progressive without a commitment to sexual justice. I have also said innumerable times that I would be delighted to help these two organizations bring truly progressive religious leaders to the table to discuss these issues. But until we're invited, expect us to continue to speak out.


Anonymous said...

Where does it say "progressive religious leaders" because I can't find that. It does say progressive leaders, but reading the press release, I don't think anyone misrepresented anything. There were evangelicals on the call and progressives on the call. No one claimed progressive religious.

Jim in Harlem said...

If I may correct anonymous, I was on the call, and there were NO progressives, religious or otherwise, among the speakers. Nor are progressive ideas, particularly with regard to LGBT equality, strongly represented. President Obama's civil rights agenda for women and for LGBT people is far more progressive and inclusive than this timid group of evangelicals.