U.S. Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton greet each other at the start of their first presidential debate Sept. 27. A dozen U.S. conservative evangelicals and Catholics posted an open letter that same day criticizing the “liberal political agenda,” which specifically named Clinton. CNS photo/Mike Segar, Reuters

Conservative U.S. Christians criticize progressives’ ‘destructive’ agenda

By  Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
  • September 30, 2016

Dozens of U.S. conservative evangelicals and Catholics have signed an open letter urging their progressive counterparts to “repent of their work that often advances a destructive liberal political agenda.”

The letter, posted online six weeks before Election Day by an alliance called the American Association of Evangelicals, includes criticism of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“When Hillary Clinton stated during a 2015 speech at the Women in the World Summit that religious beliefs ‘have to be changed,’ she was openly declaring war on Christian believers and the Church,” the letter, dated Sept. 27, reads. “And now progressives claim that supporting such a view is the Christian thing to do? This is spiritual abuse of the family, the Church and the nation.”

Others have said the quotation by Clinton, cited in the past by conservative outlets and columnists, has been been taken out of context.

Although Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not mentioned by name in the letter, some of the signatories, including author Eric Metaxas and theologian Wayne Grudem, have been outspoken in their support for him.

The letter writers, who say they “are not here endorsing or denouncing a political candidate,” cite what they believe are consequences of a progressive agenda. The results, they say, include a “growth industry trafficking in human baby organs and body parts,” a “Transgender agenda imposed by Obama-government edict,” and “(h)ostility towards Judeo-Christian religious liberty in our courts.”

They also denounce Sojourners president Jim Wallis and New Evangelical Partnership president Richard Cizik for promoting progressive causes and accepting funding from investor George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

In response, Cizik, a 2009-2010 fellow of Soros’ foundation, defended his organization’s views and funding it received from the foundation, whose values of human justice “are in sync with our own.”

“We at the NEP have the biblical view that the problems the country faces are good jobs, climate change, economic injustice and racial prejudice, including toward Muslims, among other challenges, not funders like OSF,” Cizik said. “How sad, a dispute among brothers and sisters in Christ. Is this what the Prince of Peace wants? I doubt it.”

Sojourners spokesperson Michael Mershon also responded, saying, “History will judge many of the authors of this patently political ‘open letter’ not by their words, but by their vocal support for the most racist, misogynistic and divisive presidential candidate in recent American history.”

He said Sojourners has not received money from the Open Society Institute, the former name of Soros’ organization, since a 2011 grant.

“(T)he ‘American Association of Evangelicals’ will be called to account for supporting a decidedly anti-Christian, hateful political campaign,” Mershon said. “We will pray for them.”

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