The Times reports on a new national clergy lobby designed to speak from a place of religious faith in calling for economic justice, civil liberties, and ethical foreign policy, and to disrupt the conservative monopoly on religion in political discourse:

“Clergy have to be careful not to rush in with solutions to big problems, but when they see gross injustice they have an obligation not to be silent,” [Sloane] Coffin said. “The arrogance and self-righteousness of the present administration are very dangerous. And silence by members of the clergy, in the face of such arrogance, is tantamount to betrayal of the Gospel or the Torah or the Koran.”

Several of the political group’s founders are from Midwestern and Southern states, including Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, which Mr. Pennybacker called “battleground areas” in which moderate and progressive Christians have been losing their “political voice” to Christian conservatives.

Jenny Backus, a Democratic consultant working with the new group, said: “There’s been a concerted effort by Christian conservatives to question the faith of people who disagree with their positions in the same way that they question their patriotism. The Clergy Leadership Network will now be the amen corner for people of faith who express disagreement with the administration and the Christian Right.”

…”In many people’s minds the words `conservative’ and `liberal’ are firmly linked with positions on lifestyle issues,” Mr. Green said. “Within such a diverse coalition, these clergy undoubtedly have congregations with different views on gay rights and abortion. But they may be able to find common ground on issues like war and peace, social welfare and the need for jobs.”

Last night, incidentally, was the first meeting of Yale’s newly revived Jews for Justice group, also in part an effort to create a space for Jews on the left to articulate a social justice agenda supported by our Jewish tradition and our Jewish values, while providing a counterbalancing voice to those on this campus and nationally arguing that only hawkish views are authentically Jewish, or that only foreign policy should be a Jewish issue.

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