Criticizing the increasingly partisan role of religion in politics, some evangelical leaders and other Christian activists are seeking to mobilize against the Christian Coalition in the 1996 election.

Members of the alliance, known as the "Call to Renewal," believe the Religious Right and Left are polarizing debate to extremes rather than adequately addressing the collapse of values in America.

However, shortcomings of the Left were largely ignored at a February Washington, D.C., Call to Renewal conference attended by more than 250 activists. Instead, speakers heavily criticized conservative political groups.

"They are called the Religious Right, but they don't talk much about Jesus at all or the Hebrew prophets or the kind of values that might bring us together," said Jim Wallis, editor of "Sojourners" magazine and Call to Renewal spokesperson. "Instead, they tell us who we should be afraid of."

With an emphasis on the issues of poverty, the environment, race relations, and family life, the Call to Renewal is now working to educate voters before the November elections. As if to emulate the Christian Coalition, the Call will concentrate more on local and state networks rather than on immediately developing a national organization. Grassroots organizers will host regional town meetings and candidate forums.

In direct response to the 33 million Christian Coalition voter guides distributed in churches before the 1994 election, the Call to Renewal also plans to create its own brochures.

Wallis says the alliance, at this stage, has two purposes: to publicize that there are Christians who oppose the Religious Right and to develop a new way for Christians to engage in politics. However, leaders ...

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