WASHINGTON (RNS) — As hundreds of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders from the United States and abroad descended on Washington for a conference on religious tolerance this week, attendees were quick to note an unexpectedly large delegation from one particular religious group: evangelical Christians.

Speakers at the “Alliance of Virtue for the Common Good” repeatedly highlighted their surprise and delight over the noticeable contingent of evangelicals among the more than 400 attendees at the glitzy, three-day series of discussions and speeches.

The presence of so many evangelicals, a group often associated with a negative view of Islam, provided a welcome

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