Sadly, and quite alarmingly, the spirit at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio was full of fear, anger and even hatred. Vitriol often replaced serious public discourse about the most important issues at stake in our public life. I watched every night on television but have also received messages from people on the inside — including friends who are Christian, conservative, and Republican — feeling almost distraught about all three of those core commitments. One friend wrote me to say, “I am close to losing it. The spirit is so angry and hateful here.”

The atmosphere at political conventions is always highly partisan and often very tough on the other side — but that is part of rigorous political debate in a democracy. There are legitimate and fundamental differences between competing parties and politicians. But the continual outright lies and vicious personal attacks this week have been extraordinary. When the biggest applause lines include a chant aimed at the Democratic candidate to “lock her up,” things have gone beyond rigorous partisan debate.


Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, is available now.

Follow Jim Wallis on Twitter: