Christian Politics, Rd. 5: Civility

Where I would hope all Christians agree regarding American politics is in communicating with each other in a civil way.  With everyone, even if they have a different take on the most important issue to you. All Christian speech is seasoned with salt, edifying, and spoken in love.  This is a given.

Or so one would think.

Christians have led political assaults on the character of political rivals for decades in America.  Left-wing, right-wing, and all wings in the middle.  In recent years, one of the most frequently used media with which to launch these character assaults is the Internet, and specifically e-mail forwards.  Many people are beginning to see an influx of these e-mail forwards, which slander the character of the Presidential candidates unabashedly.  (remember the string of e-mails questioning Obama’s patriotism because of the photo to the right?)  One must not understimate how effective these e-mails are in creating doubt in the minds of undecided voters and angering and re-energizing the party’s base.

But they are sinful.

My dad forwarded me a different kind of e-mail today. It was a message a friend of my dad’s sent to everyone in his e-mailbox, specifically regarding the kind of hateful political speech that I’m talking about here.  Here’s a snippet:

One of the things that I notice is that no matter where you might fall on the political spectrum there are voices that operate without love, compassion or willingness to be involved in productive conversation.  Some voices are so strident that they will resort to any tactics whatsoever to win political points regardless of whether or not those tactics are constructive or even true.
So, I have one request of each of you this election campaign and that is this:

Please don’t send me any politically themed email forwards.

We all get them.  Liberals send them out blasting the conservatives.  Conservatives denouncing the liberals.  Over the next four months everything possible under the sun will be said about both Senators McCain and Obama.
And I really don’t need to read them.
So, I ask you.  Remove me from those forward lists.  I’m willing to dialogue with people but I really don’t want to participate in the internet culture of character assassination and vicious rumor-mongering.

He goes on to say that “politics can bring out the worst in all of us.”  Amen to that.  We must all — especially those of us who say “Jesus is Lord … not Caesar” — acknowledge our propensity to let the political circus expose our darkness.  And if we choose to participate, can we at least agree to let our speech bear witness to the love of Christ?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. That’s actually an email fwd I wouldn’t have minded receiving. Nice.

    Reply

  2. YES! I was fwd your blog from a friend. Excellent post! I totally agree.

    I have termed this email garbage “political porn” because it does nothing but objectify the candidates in the same manner that women are objectified in porn.

    http://catholicdestination.com/community/offbranddads/2008/06/25/political-porn/

    Reply

  3. Remove me from those forward lists. I’m willing to dialogue with people but I really don’t want to participate in the internet culture of character assassination and vicious rumor-mongering.

    I couldn’t agree with you more

    Reply

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