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Signs of a truce in America's divisive culture war?

A group with Evangelical and progressive members released proposals Wednesday.

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For far too long, say many Americans, extreme partisanship and polarization have stymied the country's political process. The chief culprits? Some blame the strident voices of the culture war.

Now, calls for a truce are coming from a group of leaders from the Evangelical and progressive communities, long at odds with each other. They're pointing the way toward common ground on the most polarizing issues, with aims of a new civility and concrete progress.

After more than six months of discussions involving dozens of people across the spectrum, the group released a joint report Wednesday – "Come Let Us Reason Together."

Changing climates in both communities make a joint initiative possible, they say. The report bolsters that view by outlining specific principles and proposals on hot-button topics such as abortion, gay and lesbian issues, and the role of religion in public life.

"There's new movement within both communities to call for the beginning of the end of the culture war," says Rachel Laser, director of the culture project at Third Way, the progressive "strategy center" in Washington that initiated the effort. "We actually want to be in the same room and find ways to move forward together."

Much of the American public has yearned to see a search for common ground on culture-war issues. For example, a 2006 Pew poll found that 66 percent of adults say the country needs to find "middle ground" on abortion.

While it's doubtful the group of Evangelicals and progressives will win over those holding the most ardent positions, particularly in the religious right, it's tried to engage all sides. Supporters range from the Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, a former president-elect of the conservative Christian Coalition, to Christian media executive Joe Battaglia to the Rev. Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign, which promotes gay rights.

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