More than 100 Christian leaders from a wide range of theological and political backgrounds released a covenant Thursday vowing to model civility in public discourse to help change the current tone in political discussions.
The Christian leaders, ranging from conservative evangelicals to liberal mainline Protestants, say they want to contribute to a more civil and moral tone in the nation’s political discourse.
Through “A Covenant for Civility: Come Let Us Reason Together,” the leaders pledge to try 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.”
“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,” the covenant says.
Personally, signers “pledge to God and to each other” to “lead by example in a country where civil discourse seems to have broken down.”
When asked if the covenant was a response to the bitter health care debate, Aaron Graham, justice revival director at Sojourners, said it was not.
"This project has been several months in the making, so the primary motivation was not the health care debate," said Graham in an e-mail. "The recent health care debate is just another example of the many culture wars facing the church and society that desperately need more civility."
The covenant's seven points of common ground include: a commitment to dialogue that reflect the spirit of the Scripture; respect for others remembering they are created in the image of God; and disagreeing respectfully without attacking the other’s character or questioning the other’s faith.
Some of the prominent religious leaders who signed the civility covenant include Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Chuck Colson, founder of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview; Paul Fleishman, president of the National Network of Youth Ministries; David Neff, executive editor of Christianity Today; Jim Wallis, president & CEO of Sojourners; and George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.