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Others on the religious left are eyeing more direct forays into politics. The PICO National Network, a faith-based community organizing group active in 22 states, is recruiting clergy and lay leaders to run for office next year, said its political director, Bishop Dwayne D. Royster, a former Norristown, Pa., councilman. And not necessarily as Democrats, he added: “We have to make the parties work for us, not us work for the parties.”

Those rooting for a progressive religious revival, mindful of past failures, harbor few illusions that it will be easy.

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