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Progressive Revival

Jim Wallis reported on these three things that Christians from across ideological and political divides agreed upon at the Poverty Forum

We all found three substantial things on which we could agree.  First, the moral test of any society is its treatment of the poor.  It is from that vantage point that we should both formulate and judge policy proposals.

Second, in order to see anything change, to ensure that our policies and our budgets reflect our moral values, we need greater political will and better policy ideas.  Democrats and Republicans often get stuck in sometimes knee-jerk reactions to policies and approaches based upon a political worldview shaped decades ago.  Some politicians have been fighting the same fight for 20 or 30 years; sometimes that shows persistence and other times it shows that they haven’t been paying attention.  To make sure some of these better ideas become reality, we also need to form the political will.  Some of these changes will be hard and rub up against the status quo for both parties.

Third, bipartisanship is easy to say and hard to do.  However, when you are able to start with a common end goal and a shared vision, it can be done.  In the meetings of The Poverty Forum, we were able to get beyond left or right, liberal or conservative.  Left and right are political categories, not religious ones.  We asked instead what is right and what works.

I really appreiciate the spirit behind this effort. The committment to conversation acrosss ideologies at the Poverty Forum reminds me of the interfaith dialogues that are also currently taking place in order to forge peace.

But there are some questions out there.  In response to the Poverty Forum I recived an emaiil from a hard core progressive who was sick of this effort at bi-partisianship. They felt it waters down our passion for justice in order to appease those on the right. I admit I also have some sympathy for that perspective. 

But ultimately I am a pragmatist – what will work in helping people get out of poverty?  It seems to me that to get conservative Christians to really care about poverty is already an accomplishment.  So far no policy has been suggested, and that is really where it will be seen wherther the Poverty Forum and efforts like it are good pragmatic approaches or just a selling out of progressive ideals. 

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