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Members of One Body

Members of One Body

The Churches and the National Council of Churches

(p.333) Chapter Nine Members of One Body
Public Pulpits
University of Chicago Press

How can the churches be the Church? That central question remains pressing for the mainline Protestant churches in American public life. This sharpened in the wake of Interfaith Impact for Justice and Peace's demise, which cleared institutional ground for new ecumenical efforts by the National Council of Churches and others to join the mainline Protestant churches more closely in public advocacy. Specific issues spurred this undertaking. Chief among them was continuing opposition in the churches to tight-fisted “welfare reform” and half-hearted health care coverage in the 1990s, along with growing support for campaign finance reform. These advocacy efforts played out against the backdrop of continuing appeals by Bill Clinton's administration to mainline-church leaders for public involvement and moral unity to help sway voters and members of Congress to its policies. Such engagement with the mainline churches offered a striking contrast to the Republican administrations before and after the Clinton years, especially to the silence of President George W. Bush in response to the churches' protests against war in Iraq and deepening poverty and hardship at home.

Keywords:   Protestant churches, public life, Interfaith Impact for Justice and Peace, National Council of Churches, welfare reform, health care coverage, Bill Clinton, mainline churches

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