S'INSCRIRE A CHRETIENS EN RESEAU
By Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
The head of a large liberal religious organization is brushing aside a new report that says his group is being propped up financially by left-wing groups such as MoveOn.org and the philanthropies of George Soros and Ted Turner. Instead, National Council of Churches (NCC) general secretary Bob Edgar is focusing on church unity, social justice, and other global stewardship concerns.
The report published by the Washington, DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) claims the NCC is kept afloat financially by leftist groups that promote liberal causes such as same-sex "marriage" and abortion. (See earlier story)
But Edgar, who was recently in Washington defending his group against these claims, is highlighting the fact that the IRD report fails to mention any of the NCC’s major goals in pursuing Christian unity, such as ending poverty. "They said nothing about our issues on justice, racism, and nothing about the work that we’re doing to be stewards of the planet," he observes.
The NCC leader is full of praise for evangelical leaders like Rick Warren of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Orange County, California. Edgar feels Saddleback’s pastor is to be commended for his large-scale outreach efforts and his commitment to social justice concerns such as poverty and the global HIV-AIDS crisis.
"We are delighted that people like Rick Warren [author of The Purpose Driven Life] has committed himself to the poor and to working with us on issues of AIDS throughout the world," Edgar notes. He says the unity of progressives, moderates, and evangelicals hinges on two primary issues — "ending the poverty that kills" and "healing the planet" — as well as a third essential area, which is "peacemaking."
The head of the politically left-leaning NCC, an organization consisting of some 35 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, African American, Living Peace, and Evangelical denominations, claims what he calls "radical conservatives" in the Christian community are largely ignoring global efforts to fight poverty and threats to the environment. He says two evangelical Christian leaders in particular stand out in his mind.
"People like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson — Pat Robertson, calling for the assassination of the president of Venezuela ; and Jerry Falwell and some of the other ultra-right-wing folks — have moved the debate far to the right," Edgar observes. "But I think there are many evangelical conservative Christians," he says, "who have read the Bible literally enough to discover God cares about poor people."
And likewise, the NCC general secretary asserts, "there are plenty of evangelical conservative Christians who have read the Bible and see God calling us to be stewards of the planet, not supporters of Armageddon and the destruction of the planet." These believers, the Christian leader suggests, recognize from their reading of scripture that God cares about the environment, just as He cares about the poor.
Edgar describes such social-justice-oriented conservatives as "moderate evangelicals." He reaches out to them and to other so-called religious moderates in his new book, titled Middle Church : Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right (Simon and Schuster, 2006).
© 2007 AgapePress all rights reserved.
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