Interfaith Groups Look to Dems to Embrace New 'Faith Agenda'

January 19, 2007

Author: Gregory Tomlin

Source: Church Executive

WASHINGTON--A group of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh leaders has promised to hold the 110th Congress to a new "faith agenda” that shifts emphasis away from opposing abortion and “same-sex marriage” -- issues close to the heart of conservative Christian "values voters" -- to issues traditionally associated with more liberal, mainline denominations and interfaith groups.

In a news release prior to a teleconference from Washington Jan. 9, the lobby Faith in Public Life said Congress should heed the power of religious voters who "rejected a go-it-alone strategy in Iraq and politicians that put power ahead of policies that promote the common good."

"As a result, Democrats made gains among faith voters -- reaffirming God does not belong to either party and religious voters span party lines," the statement from the organization said.

Party politics nevertheless may be in play. Newly elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged Democratic lawmakers as early as January 2005 to use more religious language and develop a "faith agenda" for their party, a newspaper on Capitol Hill reported.

"House Democrats are people of deep faith and share the values of faith communities," Pelosi told Roll Call in January 2005. A Catholic from San Francisco, Pelosi assembled a "working group" of 15 to 25 House members to assist Democrats in casting the party's vision in a way that would reach the "faith-minded," according to the paper. That group is now chaired by Rep. James Clyburn, D.-S.C., and is working to build relationships with faith communities.