Edgar Reaches Out to ‘Middle Church’

Posted October 1, 2007 at 2:44pm

Peace, poverty and planet Earth are the moral issues that should really matter to America’s faithful majority, or the “Middle Church,” according to Bob Edgar, former Congressman turned president and CEO of Common Cause.

Edgar, in an effort to reset the nation’s agenda when it comes to religious matters, uses both politics and religion in his book, “Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right,” to challenge “middle of the road” Christians, Jews and Muslims in America.

“‘Middle Church’ is code words for ‘Middle Church, Middle Synagogue, Middle Mosque, Middle America.’ Too often the radical religious right has set the national agenda,” Edgar said. “I believe that the ‘faithful majority,’ once fully informed on the issues, must take back the national political agenda and focus on ending the poverty that kills, healing the planet and seeking diplomatic not military solutions to the world’s global challenges.”

In “Middle Church,” Edgar examines what he sees as the primary motives for reclaiming moral values of the faithful majority from the religious right. “I believe there are millions of Americans — faithful Christians, Jews and Muslims — who are tired, fed up and angry,” he said. “They want this country to once again be the beacon of moral clarity it once was. They want this nation to lead when it sees fellow human beings dying of hunger and disease.”

Edgar adds that a relevant church will seek to “achieve peace, the end of poverty and the healing of planet earth … this must be our immediate moral agenda.” He also points out that the Bible mentions poverty more than 10,000 times.

The Pennsylvania Democrat was elected to the House of Representatives in 1974, where he served six terms and was the first Democrat since 1958 to represent the Keystone State’s heavily Republican 7th district near Philadelphia. Edgar served on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Public Works and Transportation Committee, chaired the Northeast-Midwest Coalition and the Clearinghouse on the Future and also sat on the Select Committee on Assassinations, which investigated the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy.

Since leaving Congress, Edgar served as director of a think tank on national security issues, was a pastor at United Methodist churches and served stints as a teacher, college chaplain and community organizer. He says his mission is to “address fear, fundamentalism and Fox News, with a focus on peace, poverty and planet Earth.” And he adds that his wife of 43 years often jokes that he has only one sermon/speech and 1,000 illustrations; thus, his work in both politics and the church has been the same.

Before Edgar was appointed to his current position at Common Cause, he served as general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, which describes itself as “the leading U.S. organization in the movement for Christian unity.” The council works to overcome poverty, protect the environment, foster interfaith understanding and build international peace.

“The faithful majority seeks the same moral voice as the secular majority. As president of Common Cause, I hope to restore the mission and vision of John Gardner, founder of Common Cause,” Edgar explained. “As a moderate Republican, he was angry at the politics of Vietnam and Watergate. His passions are my passions: working for peace with justice and holding government accountable to the people.”

Edgar hopes the book will help the faithful change their “beatitudes” and speak truth to power, as well as show how the “Middle Church” can put tolerance, social justice and love at the top of the political agenda once again.