Progressive Christians that hope to be a counter-point to conservative organizations like the Christian Coalition have formed a new faith-based political group.
The nonprofit organization, the Clergy Leadership Network, plans to formally announce its formation on Friday and will operate from an expressly religious, expressly partisan point of view. The group cannot, under Internal Revenue Service guidelines, endorse political candidates, and it will have no official ties to the Democratic Party. But the driving purpose of the organization, according to its mission statement, is to bring about "sweeping changes — changes in our nation's political leadership and changes in failing public policies."
Churches should never be involved in partisan political campaigns for specific candidates or political parties, but churches have a responsibility to speak out on moral issues as they attempt to discern God’s will. The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church have a great way of putting it:
We believe that the state should not attempt to control the church, nor should the church seek to dominate the state. `Separation of church and state’ means no organic union of the two, but it does permit interaction. The church should continually exert a strong ethical influence upon the state, supporting policies and programs deemed to be just and opposing policies and programs that are unjust.
One great example of faith-based involvement on policy issues comes from the United Church of Christ. The UCC’s Take Action Center allows participates to directly contact legislative and political leaders on a variety of important issues. Many other denominations have similar programs.
Hopefully, the new Clergy Leadership Network will become a vibrant part of our nation’s policy debates.