The radical religious right has put the wrong issues at the top of the moral agenda for America, says Bob Edgar, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA and a former six-term congressman. The moral issues that really matter to America's faithful majority -- to "Middle Church" -- says Edgar, are peace, poverty, and planet Earth. Middle Church is a stirring call to progressive people of faith to take back the moral high ground from the right-wing extremists and make America a better -- not a more divided -- country.
The Bible seldom mentions homosexuality, doesn't mention abortion at all, but discusses poverty and peace more than two thousand times. But despite the Bible's emphasis on issues of social justice, the politics of faith have been captured in this country by a radical minority with its narrow and highly divisive agenda emphasizing personal piety above all else. This limited agenda is built around opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and stem-cell research, rather than the timeless and unifying themes of the Bible. In a stunning reversal of the historic role of religion in progressive change, faith has now been co-opted into a force for preemptive war, indifference to the poor, and reckless environmental degradation.
In Middle Church, Bob Edgar reclaims faith for the American mainstream. He rebuts the distorted arguments of the far religious right and instead offers progressive solutions grounded in Scripture behind which most Americans can unite. He reminds us that Jesus preached mainly about the poor and that social justice and peace were at the heart of his ministry. Edgar agrees that all Americans have a right to bring the values of their faiths to bear on the policies of our government. But faith, as he shows, should lead to progressive solutions for the defining moral issues of our time: peace, poverty, and planet Earth. Middle Church identifies the common ground on which people of faith -- Christians, Jews, and Muslims -- can unite and shows how this faithful majority can put tolerance, social justice, and love at the top of the political agenda in this country once again.
Bob Edgar is the general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the leading U.S. organization in the movement for Christian unity. He has headed the 45-million-member NCC since January 1, 2000. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Dr. Edgar came to the Council from the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, where he was president from 1990 to 2000. Dr. Edgar is well known for his service as a six-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was the first Democrat in more than 120 years to be elected from the heavily Republican Seventh District of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Edgar has been a pastor, teacher, college chaplain, community organizer, and director of a think tank on national security issues. He serves on the boards of several organizations whose missions involve social justice. Dr. Edgar and his wife live in New Jersey and have three adult sons.
"With this engaging and insightful book, Bob Edgar speaks to and for the many, many members of 'Middle Church, Middle Synagogue, and Middle Mosque' who believe it's time to reset our nation's moral compass and priorities."
-- Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund
"Middle Church is a treasure. Bob Edgar shares his wisdom and calls us all to reclaim the moral agenda for the faithful and expose the radical religious right as power-based, not religion-based."
-- Patricia Schroeder, twelve-term member of Congress and President & CEO of the Association of American Publishers
"A Stirring Call to American believers who resent their spiritual beliefs being co-opted for a political agenda contrary to their faith."