The Center for American Progress held an event today to discuss a new book by the Reverend Bob Edgar entitled Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right.
Rev. Edgar, former Congressman and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC) in the U.S., argues that over the past forty years, the radical religious right has successfully organized a national movement while progressives of faith struggle to get their voices heard. Middle Church offers new approaches for creating dialogue on faith and politics, and organizing a progressive movement based on ecumenical spiritual principles.
Rev. Edgar called on religious progressives at today’s event to “take on the radical religious right” by forming coalitions for positive social and political change with the “Middle Church.” Most Americans are members of this “Middle Church,” those who want to address the fundamental problems facing America, but are frequently distracted by issues of personal piety.
Religious progressives, he argues, are often more silent and complacent on political issues, and have only recently started organizing like their radical rightwing counterparts. He called on progressive faith leaders to use radio and television communications to “evangelize the middle” and reshape the terms of debate by fearlessly working on the “fundamental issues” like social injustices and the environment and to ignore issues “not central to themes of scripture.”
Religious progressives should focus on mobilizing the “Middle Church,” he argued, and avoid engaging the extreme leaders of the radical right. He noted that Martin Luther King Jr. and other “faithful remnants” of the civil rights era were able to win the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, despite all the risks and dangers, by standing shamelessly and unequivocally for faith-based values and principles.