“Virtually every religious tradition includes some version of ‘the Golden Rule’ — to treat others as we would be treated,” the religious leaders state. “Likewise, the idea of democracy is based on regard for the value of each and every individual.”
This is not the first time a call to civility has been issued. Back in 2003, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, in an address to the state Legislature, called upon state lawmakers to practice civility, which he called the “cement that keeps a respectful, trusting, productive society and community focused and fruitful.”
His closing words continue to resonate with all who despise a fractured political climate fueled by exaggerated, inaccurate or malicious attack ads: “Sometimes we can’t do much about all those other issues, but we can always do something about courtesy and civility. Sometimes more important than what we do is how we do it.”
In an effort to herald the call to civility, religious leaders and the Wisconsin Council of Churches are promoting two initiatives. The first is a series of workshops to prepare clergy and lay leaders in preaching and supporting civility. One of the workshops will be held at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Neenah on Sept. 8, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will use author and educator Parker Palmer’s new book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit,” as a guide.
The second initiative is a campaign to enlist state religious leaders as supporters of the Season of Civility. More information on both initiatives can be found online at www.wichurches.org.
Churches need to take a stand on the way the political process unfolds, particularly during elections. This movement from the pulpit and the pews can go a long way in muffling the cacophony of political discord. Words can hurt and words can heal. It’s time those weighing in on the electoral process distinguish between the two.