BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Ever since the election, and its controversial exit polls, moderate and liberal Christians -- Protestant and Catholic -- have insisted that they are just as committed to "moral values" as conservatives. They have also wondered how they can bridge the apparent political divide within Christianity: on one side, those for whom the term "moral values" refers primarily to personal behavior; on the other, those who emphasize issues that are mainly social and global. Judy Valente reports.
JUDY VALENTE: Ernie and Jan Hoffman like to gather around the piano at home and sing hymns from their Methodist hymnal -- songs that have sustained them through 50 years of marriage.
Now in their 70s, the Hoffmans are active members of their Methodist church in Bloomington, Illinois. She voted for Kerry, he for Bush. Both consider themselves moderate Christians. For the Hoffmans, "moral values" means working for peace, better health care, a clean environment, and a living wage.
ERNIE HOFFMAN (Congregation Member, Wesley United Methodist Church): And, I hope Bush and his cabinet and Congress pick up on a much broader agenda than being caught up on gay marriage issues, abortion issues, and that sort of thing. I hope that we're not entering a time where Christians are interpreted as being evangelical Christians alone.
JAN HOFFMAN (Congregation Member, Wesley United Methodist Church): Absolutely, they have no right to tell us how to think. The separation of church and state is beginning to be a little bit worrisome.
VALENTE: The Hoffmans know their views may put them at odds with some fellow Christians.
Mr. HOFFMAN: I hate to see us enter an era where we think we have an enemy within our own faith, and I hope that's not their perception of those who call themselves evangelical.
VALENTE: Members of churches, like the Wesley United Methodist Church here in Bloomington, Illinois, fear that fault lines are developing among American Christians. The question is whether that divide will widen, or if there's a way to find common ground.
Ernie and Jan live in McLean County, which voted 61 percent for George Bush. It is a largely rural area of corn and soybean farms in central Illinois. It is also home to Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities -- and many mainline churches that now hope to reframe the debate over moral values.
Reverend VAUGHAN HOFFMAN (Pastor, Wesley United Methodist Church): I think there were certainly persons who voted on values that had religious significance in terms of care for the poor and the environment, issues of war and peace. There were values expressed on both sides of the aisle, certainly and genuinely.
VALENTE: The National Council of Churches, which represents mostly mainline churches, recently held its annual meeting. Bob Edgar is its general secretary.
Reverend BOB EDGAR (General Secretary, National Council of Churches): This election has been around fear, around extreme fundamentalism, and around talk television and talk radio that has moved far to the Right. And those of us who are in the middle, what I call "middle church," need to recognize that we can't give away the language or the argument or the ability to speak clearly on these issues.
VALENTE: Within mainline churches, many people hold conflicted views. James and Martha Ingold also attend Wesley United in Bloomington. They are accountants who describe themselves as politically conservative. But when it comes to gay marriage ...