Progressive male Christian leaders say that if the Democratic Party opened its doors and welcomed pro-life Democrats, it would work wonders among centrist evangelicals and Catholics ["Liberal Christians Challenge 'Values Vote,' " Nov. 10].

What might actually work wonders would be some humility on the part of these clerics. If the nearly all-male club of progressive clerical leaders welcomed women into their leadership, they might learn something about life and choice. Women are more invisible in the leadership ranks of these groups than they are in the ranks of conservative religions. Catholic women who have rejected the sexism of the Catholic leadership are unlikely to put up with the male clerical club that claims to lead progressives. This same club seems to find women's rights and access to reproductive health care for low-income women unimportant to its agenda.

FRANCES KISSLING

President

Catholics for a Free Choice

Washington

The news story "Liberal Christians Challenge 'Values Vote' " said "values voters" can be found on the religious left as well as the religious right, with a passing mention of religious moderates. That ignores the many secular voters whose moral choices are based on evidence rather than faith.

Morality is not synonymous with religiosity. Morality should be based on how our actions affect others. Our creeds should not be more important than our deeds.

HERB SILVERMAN

President

Secular Coalition for America

Charleston, S.C.

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As a faithful Catholic, I have much in common with the Democratic Party on issues such as the environment, foreign policy, social programs and the economy, but I feel rejected by the "Big Tent Party" because I am pro-life. Ironically, the Republican Party seems better able to tolerate divergent views on abortion (Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example).

Although I don't expect the Democratic Party to change its view, it could team up with traditionally conservative people and organizations in efforts to reduce the abortion rate. For example, expanding programs for women in crisis pregnancies could be the sort of thing the Democratic Party could proudly back in light of its history of fighting for those too weak to fight for themselves.

If the Democrats could shift toward a more pro-woman approach, backing programs designed to help women who choose not to have an abortion just as adamantly as they support abortion itself, and if they could stomach a few pro-lifers in their ranks, they might win a few "values voters" of their own.

NATHAN BARTEL

Hyattsville