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God’s ‘left wingers’ seek to counter religious right in US elections

US clergy are organizing their political positions in advance of mid-term Congressional elections within a preserve once seen as dominated by the right in what some media have dubbed "the emergence of the religious left".

Polls showed that the group known as the "Religious Right" helped re-elect President George W. Bush in 2004 with its opposition to abortion and gay marriage, leading many commentators to identify moral values with Bush’s Republican Party.

But a Democratic Party official stated recently her party needed to learn not to ignore issues of faith. "We have to learn how to communicate – communicate, not persuade – with voters about abortion, gay marriage, immigration and other issues," said Pat Waak, Colorado Democratic Party chairperson at a meeting in Denver, the Colorado Daily reported.

Meanwhile, religious leaders seen as holding leftwing views are lobbying for an end to the Iraq war, as well as measures to combat global warming and a rise in the minimum wage.

Some commentators say such activity by what have been described as "God’s left wingers" is reminiscent of the 1960s campaigns of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr and other clergy against the Vietnam war and in favour of civil rights.

A list of best-selling books offer faith-based alternatives to the "Religious Right", including "God’s Politics: Why The Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn’t Get It" by Jim Wallis, "The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right", by Rabbi Michael Lerner and "Our Endangered Values" by former US president Jimmy Carter.

Some Christian denominations support a campaign by the Metropolitan Community Churches in its Bible-based appeal for acceptance of homosexuals. The church, a predominantly gay community, is sponsoring billboards, yard signs and newspaper advertisements in areas seen as strongholds of traditional values, and asking, "Would Jesus discriminate?"

Barack Obama of Illinois, the only US black senator and regarded as an up-and-coming figure in the Democratic Party, recently told a conference: "If we don’t reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons will continue to hold sway."

(c) Ecumenical News International