The Common Good
March-April 1997

Mending a Torn Society

by Sue Stine | March-April 1997

A moral and political agenda for 1997.

America needs a new vision. Americans want a new vision.

Call to Renewal can be a catalyst that brings people together to create that new vision: a moral politics that combines spiritual renewal and social responsibility.

Call to Renewal convened in 1995 with two goals: to lift up a clear, alternative public voice to the Religious Right, and to offer a unique, more spiritual politics transcending the old categories of Left and Right, liberal and conservative.

Following the National Forum on Faith and Politics and the 1996 fall organizing tour, the first goal has been met. We have demonstrated that the Religious Right does not speak for all or most Christians and that there are alternatives.

We now turn our attention to the second goal. We can serve a new movement — bringing together evangelicals, the black churches, Catholics, mainline Protestants, and pentecostals to forge a much-needed spiritual vision of politics. Our objective is to help provide the moral agenda for that vision — working to reweave the torn fabric of society at local and national levels.

This begins with searching for common ground on some of today’s most divisive and controversial issues. In 1997, Call to Renewal will implement a four-point agenda that is unique in American politics. It will incorporate pro-poor and pro-racial justice views generally held by the Left and pro-family and pro-life views generally held by the Right, and includes:

Overcoming poverty. This is the most urgent issue named by people throughout the country. The reality of the new welfare law is that people will be cut off from benefits, without provision for jobs, adequate child care, or national standards. Our biblical faith makes it clear that the ultimate test of a society’s integrity in God’s eyes is how it treats those who are poor and marginal. Government, private enterprise, churches, and social service providers will need to work together to create new economic possibilities and resources.

Dismantling white supremacy. White supremacy, a system that differentiates between whites and people of color through attitudes and social structures, continues to characterize the United States. People of color are consistently disadvantaged on every level of our society, and the expectation of white privilege is still an underlying assumption in the majority culture.

Call to Renewal’s commitment is to racial reconciliation in our personal relationships, churches, and communities; and to racial justice in the structures of our society’s economic and political life.

Affirming life. We believe that every human life is a gift from God. Our goal is to define a common ground and work together to reduce dramatically the U.S. average of 1.3 million abortions annually.

We believe we are called to protect, nurture, and sustain life wherever it is threatened. In our pro-life agenda, we will address issues such as euthanasia, capital punishment, nuclear weapons, and pollution and the ways that these issues impact the consistent ethic of life.

Rebuilding family and community. The breakdown of the family in our society is devastating to our children. Healthy families in supportive communities are essential to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children. We endorse both rebuilding strong family relationships and providing quality support systems. This includes further empowerment of the churches and neighborhood centers that are already effective "sanctuaries" in violence-torn neighborhoods.

Call to Renewal’s 1997 action plan calls for actions around the nation on Pentecost (May 18); a national conference October 17-19; a national religious roundtable on poverty and welfare reform; and the solidifying of more than 35 local Call to Renewal organizations throughout the United States. These local networks will move the issues forward, since each issue takes on specific priorities based on location.

From our base in Washington, D.C., the Call to Renewal will assist in organizing local events; develop resources, including an organizing manual and study guide; and disseminate information on national and local activities through regular media releases, our new home page (http://www.ari.net/calltorenewal), and quarterly newsletters.

Call to Renewal is committed to bringing together people with differing opinions to seek common ground. Our 1997 agenda holds the promise of new partnerships, alliances, and solutions. Join us!

Sojourners is an active participant in the Call to Renewal network, providing leadership and organizing support. If you can volunteer at the Washington, D.C. office, give Sue Stine a call. To be put on the Call mailing list, send your name and address to Call to Renewal, 2401 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009; (202) 328-8842.

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