Edgar, Bob 1943- (Robert W. Edgar)
Edgar, Bob 1943- (Robert W. Edgar)
Born May 29, 1943. Education: Lycoming College, B.A.; Drew University Theological School, M.Div.
Office—Common Cause, 1133 19th St. N.W., 9th Fl., Washington, DC 20036.
Ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, congressman, educator, activist, humanitarian. Six-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving the Seventh Congressional District of PA, 1974-87; Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA, president, 1990-2000; National Council of Churches, general secretary, 2000-07; Common Cause, Washington, DC, president and CEO, 2007—. Member of the boards of directors of Independent Sector, National Coalition for Health Care, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, and Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
Awards from the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, National Taxpayers Union; several honorary doctoral degrees.
(With others) Central America 1981: El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica: Report of a Fact-Finding Mission with Analyses and Recommendations, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (Boston, MA), 1981.
Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
Bob Edgar was a six-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a Democrat in a predominantly Republican Pennsylvania district, who went on to lead the National Council of Churches, a Christian unity group that is made up of forty-five million Americans of thirty-five different faiths. He took a new leadership position with Common Cause in 2007.
As a legislator, Edgar led efforts to increase benefits for the military, improve public transportation, and make more transparent Super Fund legislation, and he was a member of the committee that investigated the deaths of both President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. He left office voluntarily in 1987 and became a vocal advocate for campaign finance reform and clean elections.
As the head of the National Council of Churches, he organized opposition in the religious community to the invasion of Iraq and the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration. In an interview on Yes Online, he told Carolyn McConnell that he sees a danger of a new form of colonialism that may rely on racism and fear, and said that his own fear is that the religious community will be silent. "I remind audiences often that the prophets of the Old Testament never had a majority and never took a poll to figure out what God's will and wisdom is," he said. "People of faith need to be more courageous in standing up on principle. Those of us who are called to a different world vision need to be clear in our prophetic voice."
Edgar is the author of Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right, in which he espouses a mainstream faith that he says is not represented by the religious right. In his introduction he includes a line he has also used in his speeches: "Fear, fundamentalism, and the Fox Broadcasting Company must not be allowed to set the agenda for our nation." Edgar wants the agenda of the Christian Coalition that focuses on such issues as homosexuality and abortion to be replaced with one that tackles the problems of poverty, peace, and the environment.
A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Edgar "makes a strong case … for a national policy that truly reflects the best values of Christianity, Judaism and Islam."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Christian Century, September 5, 2006, review of Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right, p. 14.
Library Journal, August 1, 2006, Naomi Hafter, review of Middle Church, p. 93.
Publishers Weekly, July 10, 2006, review of Middle Church, p. 72.
Common Cause Web site,http://www.commoncause.org/ (June 12, 2007), biography of Edgar.
Middle Church Web site,http://www.middlechurch.net (June 12, 2007) biography of Edgar.
National Council of Churches USA Web site,http://www.ncccusa.org/ (July 5, 2007).
Yes Online,http://www.yesmagazine.org/ (June 12, 2007), Carolyn McConnell, "A Force More Powerful Than Violence: An Interview with Bob Edgar."