Monday, Mar. 19, 2007

Rise of the Religious Left

Over the past two decades, discussion about moral values in presidential campaigns has often centered on whether — or how much — a candidate would limit abortion and gay rights. That could change this time around, as religious groups work to boost the profiles of topics usually associated with the political left.

Sojourners, a liberal Christian group run by veteran evangelical minister Jim Wallis, who has advised congressional Democrats on how to speak candidly about their beliefs, will hold a presidential forum in June, where it will ask candidates to detail their views on such issues as ending the fighting in Darfur and reducing poverty. Bread for the World, a nonpartisan Christian group that lobbies Congress to provide more money to tackle global hunger, is also planning a June forum. "The religious right doesn't have a lock on faith," said president David Beckmann. The singer Bono has met with several presidential candidates and encouraged them to talk about poverty, his signature issue.

These groups may benefit from an eclectic group of candidates eager to talk about faith. While some Democratic candidates in recent years, like John Kerry, have been reluctant to talk about their religion, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton speak frequently about their Christian faith, and both have hired advisers to focus on outreach to religious groups.