by Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE (PNS) — Do you find yourself wishing political leaders would speak more respectfully to one another as they share their perspectives on important issues?
The National Institute for Civil Discourse is coordinating a yearlong effort — leading up to the 2020 national election — to pray for the healing of divisions in the United States and to promote use of the Golden Rule in politics.
On Sunday, Nov. 3, exactly one year before the national election, Christians from across the theological and political spectrum will emphasize Christian teachings about human dignity and, in particular, Jesus’ command to “treat others as we would like to be treated,” which also applies to political discussions.
The idea for “Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics” grew from a meeting last May, hosted by the National Institute for Civil Discourse at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. At this gathering, the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, and 20 other Christian leaders came together for two days to discuss how people of faith can work together to combat the incivility and division in the U.S.
Congregations will participate in a wide variety of ways, including special readings and prayers, Sunday school lessons, use of a short liturgy, information about Golden Rule 2020 in bulletins, sermons on the need for dignity and respect and suggestions about how church members can apply the Golden Rule to political discussions.
Those who helped create “Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics” represent a range of denominational and organizational partners, including: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The American Baptist Churches U.S.A., National Association of Evangelicals, The Episcopal Church, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mormon Women for Ethical Government, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of Churches.
“In the year leading up to the 2020 national election, we want millions of Christians — as well as others who value the Golden Rule — to do their best to follow these principles as they interact with others they disagree with,” said Theo Brown, director of faith-based programs for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. “If enough people do this, it can have an impact on the political climate and make civility more of a central concern.”
Brown, a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which is just blocks from the White House, said it saddens him to watch the political news, both because of specific events taking place and because of how he sees people on different sides of issues talking past each other. “I also feel worried about the future and feel that we are headed for some very difficult times if we can’t heal the divisions we face now in our country,” he said.