The 'Third Way' is really the same old way

By Stephanie Block

In January 2009, Faith in Public Life – a progressive, ecumenical network cofounded by Jim Wallis to counter the “religious right” – started a new group, “Third Way.” Third Way is the evangelical version of the Catholic “Common Ground Project” – a project to disarm those who insist on moral imperatives, like “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

To these ends, Third Way has developed its “Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda,” which it presented to Obama officials. The agenda has four points:

Reducing abortions (reducing abortion through reducing unintended pregnancies, supporting pregnant women, and increasing support for adoption)

Supporting employment protections for gay and lesbian people (protecting the rights of gay and lesbian people to earn a living, while protecting the freedom of religious organizations to follow their own beliefs)

Renouncing torture, and
Creating secure and comprehensive immigration reform

As an aside, it’s interesting, considering all the effort Faith in Public Life made during the 2008 presidential campaigns to spread the message that there are other issues of concern to religious people than abortion and homosexuality, that the first two points here are abortion and homosexuality. Ahem.

What’s going on here?

Well, the Third Way agenda offers a public image makeover for some rather unsavory positions. Progressives know that most people are repulsed by abortion, homosexual acts (as opposed to homosexually-oriented people, who are usually quite loveable), torture, and general unfairness. How do they – fighting for abortion and homosexual “rights,” US disarmament, and undocumented worker “rights” – sell the package?

Voila! Nobody, but nobody, opposes reducing abortions, protecting people from unjust discrimination, stopping torture, or addressing our immigration problems. Rephrased this way, these positions have the odor of moral high ground. “Ripping babies to shreds in their mothers’ wombs” sounds vicious; “helping women through tough decisions during unwanted pregnancies” sounds compassionate. Both describe the same situation.

Close examination of the progressive Faith in Public Life network uncovers a stunning pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, socialist network. (See “Faith in Public Life”, Its “Third Way” doesn’t represent a middle or common ground in any true sense of the term but confuses co-religionists into support of a morally abhorrent, progressive political platform.

A little background is revealing. The term “third way” became thematic among the “new Democrats” of the 90s. It was floated at the 1995 Democratic Leadership Council’s (DLC) Annual Conference, which proposed a “third way,” supposedly neither Republican nor Democrat but touting a plan to “redistribute income,” support guaranteed, “100% health care” (with its “pro-choice” components), and push new “community and citizenship values” (like homosexual “rights”) through Alinskyian organizing networks. So, where’s the middle ground in this?

It also proposed “a wholly different governing philosophy” of decentralized government…except, its specific proposals were anything but decentralized. To take an example, welfare was to be replaced with an employment system that “both requires people to work [and] also makes it possible, that enables them to work.” Whether or not this was a good idea, substituting a federal and/or state welfare system with a federal and/or state employment system still leaves the country with a statist solution…again, what “middle ground” are we talking about here?

Fourteen years later, here’s Third Way, the organization – a 21st century Faith in Public Life missile aimed at evangelicals.

Want to “reduce abortion?” Download a Third Way fact sheet: “In anticipation of the President’s repeal of the Mexico City Policy, we have prepared a fact sheet with talking points that lays out the key facts demonstrating why the repeal is a life-affirming step.” Really?

Want to protect homosexuals from unjust discrimination? Well, according to other Third Way materials, “Americans must be persuaded that moving forward on gay and lesbian rights represents progress for the nation. These insights, gained through both original qualitative and quantitative public opinion research, provide the framework for progressives to advance same-sex relationship recognition and make progress on other gay and lesbian issues.” 

There’s no compromise about this – no “common ground.” This is the progressive agenda, plain and simple.
It’s interesting what David Brody, a blogger for CBN News, had to say. Refreshing for its honesty, this is about as cold-blooded as it gets:

Let’s be real here. The Obama administration has no desire to waste away political capital on social issues. They don’t want to get bogged down on fights over gay rights and abortion. It would end up being a distraction because they are laser focused on the economy. So for this agenda to move forward, Obama is going to have to get a few serious legislative lopsided victories under his belt. If in the next couple years he can get an energy bill and a healthcare bill through Congress, then he would be in a stronger position to take on issues that require serious heavy lifting. Healthcare is a tough nut to crack but it pales in comparison to the emotional issues of abortion and gay rights.

Third Way
is smart to plant the seeds now. They’ve [remember – this group just began in January…supposedly] actually be planting them for a couple years now but the good news for them is they have an administration who is not only willing to listen but who takes faith related matters very seriously. This should not be underestimated.

….As for the [Third Way] agenda itself, on gay rights, clearly the hiring protection exemption for religious groups will be well received by conservative Evangelicals but the sticking point will be the issue of classifying sexual orientation as a “right”. Anybody got a good idea on middle ground for that one?

On abortion, the adoption language will be well received. The question for moderates and progressives is whether they can cede ground and be OK with parental notification laws and a fetal pain bill? Both are considered ways to reduce the number of abortions in the country so will those be considered? Torture and immigration are hot but tons too but the real heavy lifting will be abortion and gay rights.

The only “common ground” being considered here is the one we all are buried in.

This article was taken from Spero News, April 09, 2009.

Stephanie Block is the editor of Los Pequenos - a New Mexico-based publication. Her columns are made possible by the sponsorship of generous individuals who believe information about the development and dissemination of progressive ideology needs to be more widely understood. Please fell free to share -- acknowledging authorship -- these articles with others. If you would like more frequent publication of Stephanie Block's work, tax-deductible donations can be sent to: Catholic Media Coalition - PO Box 427 Great Cacapon, WV 25422 Attn: Progressive Watch

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