The Common Good

Diverse group of faith leaders, Christians sign civility covenant

Source: Sojourners
Date: April 12, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, April 12, 2010

CONTACT: Sheldon Good at sgood@sojo.net / 202.745.4625 or

Burns Strider at bstrider@sojo.net / 202.215.2490

DIVERSE GROUP OF FAITH LEADERS,

CHRISTIANS SIGN CIVILITY COVENANT

WASHINGTON, DC – For many months, a group of the nation’s faith leaders with varied theological and political beliefs have prayed and discerned how they might contribute to a more civil and moral tone in the nation’s political discourse. Today, 126 Christian leaders are publicly inviting Christians to sign on to “A Covenant For Civility: Come Let Us Reason Together,” which calls for that better civic discourse.

The civility covenant – which comes at a time of degenerating national debate on contentious issues – will be sent to Members of Congress, who have recently voiced serious concern for their security as they receive bipartisan attacks and even death threats. The faith community is asking Members of Congress to emulate their example as the nation heads into debates around financial regulation, climate change, and immigration reform.

Rev. Jim Wallis said in a statement, “We need to behave differently, for both the sake of our spiritual integrity and the health of our democracy.”

The 126 Christian leaders, regardless of their beliefs, strive to create “safe and sacred spaces for common prayer and community discussion” in their churches, which have too often “reflected the political divisions of our culture rather than the unity we have in the body of Christ.”

Through seven points of common ground, the faith leaders “pledge to God and to each other” to “lead by example in a country where civil discourse seems to have broken down.”

The faith leaders believe that the “church in the United States can offer a message of hope and reconciliation to a nation that is deeply divided by political and cultural differences.”

LINK to Jim Wallis’ statement:

http://blog.sojo.net/2010/04/08/a-covenant-for-civility/

LINK to add your name to the list:

http://go.sojo.net/campaign/civilitypledge

LINK to complete text and original signers of “A Covenant For Civility: Come Let Us Reason Together”:

www.civilitycovenant.org

A COVENANT FOR CIVILITY:

Come Let Us Reason Together

How good and pleasant it is when the people of God live together in unity.—Psalm 133:1

As Christian pastors and leaders with diverse theological and political beliefs, we have come together to make this covenant with each other, and to commend it to the church, faith-based organizations, and individuals, so that together we can contribute to a more civil national discourse. The church in the United States can offer a message of hope and reconciliation to a nation that is deeply divided by political and cultural differences. Too often, however, we have reflected the political divisions of our culture rather than the unity we have in the body of Christ. We come together to urge those who claim the name of Christ to “put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

1) We commit that our dialogue with each other will reflect the spirit of the Scriptures, where our posture toward each other is to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

2) We believe that each of us, and our fellow human beings, are created in the image of God. The respect we owe to God should be reflected in the honor and respect we show to each other in our common humanity, particularly in how we speak to each other. With the tongue we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God …. this ought not to be so” (James 3:9, 10).

3) We pledge that when we disagree, we will do so respectfully, without falsely impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith, and recognizing in humility that in our limited, human opinions, “we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We will therefore “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).

4) We will ever be mindful of the language we use in expressing our disagreements, being neither arrogant nor boastful in our beliefs: “Before destruction one’s heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).

5) We recognize that we cannot function together as citizens of the same community, whether local or national, unless we are mindful of how we treat each other in pursuit of the common good in the common life we share together. Each of us must therefore “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25).

6) We commit to pray for our political leaders—those with whom we may agree, as well as those with whom we may disagree. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made … for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

7) We believe that it is more difficult to hate others, even our adversaries and our enemies, when we are praying for them. We commit to pray for each other, those with whom we agree and those with whom we may disagree, so that together we may strive to be faithful witnesses to our Lord, who prayed “that they may be one” (John 17:22).

We pledge to God and to each other that we will lead by example in a country where civil discourse seems to have broken down. We will work to model a better way in how we treat each other in our many faith communities, even across religious and political lines. We will strive to create in our congregations safe and sacred spaces for common prayer and community discussion as we come together to seek God’s will for our nation and our world.

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Jim Wallis is the founder and president of Sojourners, the largest network of progressive Christians in the United States focused on the biblical call to social justice. Wallis is also author of the New York Times bestsellers God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World, Reviving Faith & Politics. His latest book is Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street.

Sojourners' mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world. Visit www.sojo.net, and www.GodsPolitics.com.