Bob Edgar on Senator Frist

The Rev. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, distributed a letter to the editor today expressing concern for the plans of Sen. Frist to appear on a telecast denouncing judges and alleging they are silencing people of faith.

Dear Editor:

We are surprised and grieved by a campaign launched this week by Family Research Council and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who said that those who disagree with them on President Bush’s

[The] attempt
to impose
on the
entire country
a narrow,
private view
of truth
is a
— The Rev.
Robert Edgar

judicial nominees are “against people of faith.” This campaign, which they are calling “Justice Sunday,” should properly be called “Just-Us” Sunday. Their attempt to impose on the entire country a narrow, exclusivist, private view of truth is a dangerous, divisive tactic. It serves to further polarize our nation, and it disenfranchises and demonize good people of faith who hold political beliefs that differ from theirs.

To brand any group of American citizens as “anti-Christian” simply because they differ on political issues runs counter to the values of both faith and democracy. It is especially disheartening when that accusation is aimed at fellow Christians. The National Council of Churches encompasses more than 45 million believers across a broad spectrum of theology and politics who work together on issues important to our society. If they disagree with Senator Frist’s political positions, are these 45 million Christians now considered “anti-Christian”?

In the spirit of 1 Timothy 6:3-5, we urge Senator Frist and the Family Research Council to reconsider their plan. We will be praying for the Lord to minister to them and change their hearts so that they will not continue to take our nation down this destructive path.

Bob Edgar, General Secretary
National Council of Churches USA
New York City

Coming almost simultaneously with the election of a new Pope, the letter will probably receive little, if any, attention in the media, but the scripture reference zings. This brought to mind a note on Methoblog that Jay wrote to four detractors (A Letter to the Boys) calling for continuing conversation between diametrically opposed groups in The United Methodist Church. As the rhetoric gets hotter around these issues, I wonder if considered, constructive dialogue is possible.

In an interview recently on the television program Religion and Ethics Weekly , Mike McCurry expressed his belief that within the church community we can still talk to each other. I share his optimism, but must admit that the more I read the headlines the less optimistic I am. Partisan politics and religion have merged. When that happens, political rhetoric assumes a place in what should be the language of faith.

Faith informs politics, but politics is not faith.

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