President Clinton has demeaned his office, undermined the law, and spread moral indifference, according to a group of religious leaders who are urging him to resign.

In a November 17 letter, 32 religious leaders, mostly evangelicals, asked for Clinton's resignation to "help restore dignity to the highest office in our land."

The letter also criticizes religious leaders who have dismissed the President's behavior because they believe "sexual boundaries are not absolute." Signers of the letter, organized by the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD), include conservative scholar Michael Cromartie, IRD's Diane Knippers, First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus, and Southern Baptist president Paige Patterson.

In a separate statement released November 13, a group of 87 religion scholars decry "the manipulation of religion and the debasing of moral language" surrounding the Clinton scandal. That declaration does not take a position on resignation or impeachment, but asserts that personal forgiveness has public consequences.

"Because the economy is well, the American people aren't interested in moral issues," says Klyne Snodgrass, professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. "We want to send a message that morality matters."

An accompanying news release criticizes Jesse Jackson, Philip Wogaman, and James Wall for forgiving the President with "no further penalty." The statement suggests some religious leaders have been fooled to "provide authentication for a politically motivated and incomplete repentance that seeks to avert serious consequences for wrongful acts."

Signers include academics Jean Bethke Elshtain, Gabriel Fackre, Robert Jewett, David Scholer, Max Stackhouse, and Timothy Weber. The group encourages discussion of its public morality statement on its Web site (

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