Ecumenical Leader Says Nation is Divided, Affirms Need for Prayer

Bob Edgar, head of the National Council of Churches, said the election ‘confirmed that we are a divided nation,’ but expressed a desire to walk for justice ‘regardless of who leads our country’
( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2004 05:02 PM EST

The National Council of Churches, the largest ecumenical Christian body in the US, released a statement on Nov. 4 affirming the need to unite the nation following a highly debated and contentious election. The statement, penned by the NCC general secretary Bob Edgar, largely reflected the views of the millions of mainline Christians who considered poverty, justice and international relations as the key factors to the election.

"This election confirmed that we are a divided nation, not only politically but in terms of our interpretations of God's will,” said Edgar, a widely known critic of the Bush administration’s decision to wage a preemptive war on Iraq.

“We in the church must redouble our efforts to call all people of faith to affirm the values of both public morality and private piety,” said Edgar.

The NCC and many of its constituents launched a multi-million dollar campaign since summer 2004 to get “progressive” Christians to the polls. Entitled, “Vote ALL Your Values,” the voter registration campaign was largely the counterweight to the conservatives’ lofty “ivotevalues” and “redeem the vote” initiatives. “Vote ALL Your Values” focused on social issues such as poverty and justice as opposed to the conservatives’ focus on morality issues such as homosexual “marriage,” abortion and stem-cell research.

Despite the “Vote ALL Your Values” campaign and the NCC’s rejection of numerous Bush-administration-led policies, Edgar expressed his desire to walk together and pray for the administration.

“We pledge to pray for President Bush and his Administration, and offer our best efforts to unite the nation in the cause of justice and peace,” said Edgar.

“Regardless of who leads our country, the agenda of the church must always respond faithfully to the Bible's timeless mandate to minister to the poor, the marginalized and the outcast; and to be seekers and makers of peace. In this quest for the common good, we will contribute to the healing of the nation, and of the family of nations. The American political system is strong and vibrant, persisting through waves of changing circumstances, because of the vigilance of patriots and the ever-renewing blessings of Constitutional government.”