Christians Should Be 'Leading the Charge' in Returning to Civility, Senate Chaplain Barry Black Says

U.S. Senate Chaplain and Rear Admiral Barry Black, giving remarks as the keynote speaker for the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, DC on Thursday, February 2, 2017.
U.S. Senate Chaplain and Rear Admiral Barry Black, giving remarks as the keynote speaker for the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, DC on Thursday, February 2, 2017. | (Photo: Screengrab/YouTube/Live On-Air News)

Senate Chaplain Barry Black believes that the United States has a "serious problem" when it comes to political incivility and that Christians should be leading the way when it comes to ushering civility back into society.

Black, who has served as the chaplain for the upper house of the federal legislature for the past 15 years and is a retired U.S. Navy officer, recently spoke with the Christian Broadcasting Network regarding his concerns about the increasing tension and political incivility that is seemingly toxifying public discourse in America.

"When, because of political differences, people can't with their families enjoy the freedoms that this nation provides, we've got a serious problem," Black told the news outlet.

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In a time in which Trump administration officials are being kicked out of restaurantsharassed, and lawmakers are engaging in heated back-and-forths with the president on Twitter, Black says that a lot of the incivility on display today has do with "arrogance, swagger, trash talking."

"I think it's critically important that we lower the decibels," Black said. "Proverbs 15:1 says, 'A soft answer turns away anger,' and we obey the Golden Rule."

The Golden Rule, as written in Matthew 7:12, states: "Do to others what you would have them do to you."

"I think Christians should be leading the charge in returning to civility by practicing what we teach and preach," Black continued. "Many times we have the rhetoric, but our actions will not back up the rhetoric."

Black is encouraged to see some of his own Senate constituents — both Republican and Democrat — engaging civilly when they participate in a weekly Senate prayer breakfast. About 25 to 30 lawmakers participate in the weekly gathering.

"There are many, many lawmakers who are modeling civility," Black said. "The challenge is that the legislative process by its very nature is adversarial."

"One senator said it's very difficult to pray for one another and then to leave the prayer breakfast and go up to the chamber and verbally stab that person whose hand you've just been holding," Black added. "We end the prayer breakfast joined hands praying."

Weekly participant Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., remarked last week that the prayer breakfast is one of many congressional gatherings designed to "foster civility in politics." The prayer breakfast gives the senators an opportunity to pray together, encourage each other and share prayer requests, Lankford wrote in a tweet.

"There's rightly a need to condemn incivility, no matter where it comes from," Lankford wrote in a tweet. "I also want you to know civility does happen in Congress."

Lankford, the co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and Democrat Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware spoke about the weekly prayer gathering at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.

"It is the one time during the week in an otherwise too often divided Senate when we listen to each other and trust each other," Coons said. "When we see each other, not as opponents, but as creations of our God."

In his interview with CBN, Black asserted that American citizens must remember that they are called to pray for the nation's political leaders, no matter which party is in power. Black explained that the problems the nation faces "require supernatural wisdom" and require "divine guidance."

"I think our citizens need to remember 2 Chronicles 7:14, and this is a promise that God will supernaturally bring healing to our nation, and that means all the branches of our government, and healing means greater civility," Black said. "Whether the branches want healing or not, God says if My folk will do those things, they will bring healing to our nation."

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