Branding a Compassionate Christ a 'Liberal'

"Frankly, one of the ways that you provoke the most response from people is through anger and through fear. It raises a bunch of money. It raises the level of exposure. And so there are practical reasons for just focusing on a few issues because that's how you get the largest constituency active."

The chairman of the Christian Coalition, Roberta Combs, said she and the board wanted to expand the agenda to issues such as the environment, but wanted to first make sure the rank and file members were on board to let them be a part of their decisions.

Hunter sees that as something of a cop-out

"I've never known how to survey people and really make great strides," he said. "That's not how you expand, you know. You expand by leadership."

But it's tough to do that.

After conservative evangelical David Kuo, former deputy of the White House office of faith-based initiatives, published a book criticizing Christian leaders as being too narrowly focused, he was attacked as liberal, a heretic.

It has only made him more combative.

"Christians have spent so much time evangelizing their politics that they've really corrupted the name of Jesus," Kuo said.

He responded to those criticizing Warren by writing on his blog, "Are they so blind and possessed with such a narrow definition of life that they can think of life only in utero?"

Kuo too feels his leaders need to expand their focus, but many -- such as Schenck -- strongly disagree.

"We are not done with the big issues -- again, the sanctity of life, marriage, our public expressions of faith in this country -- we have not even begun to resolve these issues," Schenck said.

When asked why Christian political leaders in Washington are more focused on preventing gays and lesbians from marrying than addressing poverty, Schenck said that's our "peculiar platform."

"Our peculiar platform is to address the paramount moral issues. That's our charge. That's my job," he said. "That is in fact in my job description."

He said the morality issue sets the "direction for everything else."

"It's pretty tough to say, 'you should be concerned about that homeless woman on the street if in fact we have no respect for the dignity of human life,'" Schenck said.

"The compassion of Christ has somehow been tagged as liberal," Hunter responded. "It's not about being liberal or conservative. It's about following Christ and trying to live the kind of life that he lived."

Avery miller and Dan Harris contributed to this report.

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