Continuing from this entry, I bring you parts two and three of my four-point plan to creating an effective religious left group for all involved.
2) Get the word out...to no one in particular
So we have our values down, but we're still far from taking our list to Washington and demanding results. The next step is presenting the ideas and values we've decided we're for to the world-at-large.
If the goal is to create a place where liberal Christians can have a dialogue, then the best thing we can do is open that dialogue to as many people as possible. If the goal is to state plainly that the Church as a whole has not abandoned everyone but the fundies, crazies, and crazy fundies; then the best thing we can do is create a place where people who are struggling with what the Church has become don't feel abandoned. If the goal is to eventually affect policy in this country, then the best thing to do is build up a large number to demonstrate that we vote on our values.
No matter what we want to achieve, the best thing to do is get as many people on board as want to be on board.
3) Let them come to us
Jim Wallis is fond of pointing out in books and interviews that Martin Luther King, Jr. never endorsed a politician. He made politicians endorse his agenda. If someone with legislative clout looks at what we're doing and says "I'd better get behind that," that's fantastic.
We won't get into the habit of endorsing politicians, though. To endorse, say, a Pennsylvania Democrat because that Democrat is with us on initiatives which address poverty could very well hitch us to that Democrat's anti-choice stance that was necessary to remain politically viable in that state (or commonwealth, if you want to be accurate). There's a better than average chance that this thing we're building wouldn't want to be attached to that. If that same Democrat wanted to point to what we have to say about the treatment of those who are struggling? We couldn't stop that from happening.
There should be a very clear difference between "The Senator is with us" and "We're with the Senator." And we should always be on the correct side of that difference.
To be concluded...