After sustaining withering criticism from the evangelical community for his early decisions on abortion and homosexual rights, President Bill Clinton has begun making overtures to evangelical leaders.

On October 18, Clinton and Vice President Al Gore hosted 12 evangelical leaders at a private breakfast in the White House. “There is no agenda,” said the President. “I simply want to listen to your concerns.”

In recent speeches, the President often has referred to a new book by Yale professor Stephen Carter, The Culture of Disbelief, which describes how a secularized modern culture wrongly pushes religious concerns to the fringe. Clinton has indicated that he recognizes many of the nation’s problems cannot be solved without the involvement and support of the religious community.

The President has hosted interfaith gatherings and has met with Southern Baptist leaders, but the October breakfast was believed to be the first private meeting specifically scheduled with evangelicals. The delegation consisted of Eastern College sociology professor Tony Campolo, American Bible Society chief executive officer Gene Habecker, Church on the Way pastor Jack Hayford, Eastern College president Roberta Hestenes, Willow Creek Church pastor Bill Hybels, Taylor University president Jay Kesler, National Association of Hispanic Evangelicals coordinator Jesse Miranda, Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw, Wheaton College historian Mark Noll, Urban Family magazine founder John Perkins, World Vision president Bob Seiple, and CT columnist and author Philip Yancey.

At the breakfast, the President agreed to continue dialogue with evangelicals and to fight against government interference in activities by religious ...

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