Yesterday, Jim Wallis and Sojourners announced the release of something called “A Covenant For Civility: Come Let Us Reason Together,” which seeks to create a more civil discourse on controversial issues of the day and consisted of seven specific vows:
1) We commit that our dialogue with each other will reflect the spirit of the Scriptures, where our posture toward each other is to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
2) We believe that each of us, and our fellow human beings, are created in the image of God. The respect we owe to God should be reflected in the honor and respect we show to each other in our common humanity, particularly in how we speak to each other. “With the tongue we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God …. this ought not to be so” (James 3:9, 10).
3) We pledge that when we disagree, we will do so respectfully, without impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith, and recognizing in humility that in our limited, human opinions, “we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We will therefore “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
4) We will ever be mindful of the language we use in expressing our disagreements, being neither arrogant nor boastful in our beliefs: “Before destruction one’s heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).
5) We recognize that we cannot function together as citizens of the same community, whether local or national, unless we are mindful of how we treat each other in pursuit of the common good in the common life we share together. Each of us must therefore “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25).
6) We commit to pray for our political leaders—those with whom we may agree, as well as those with whom we may disagree. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made … for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
7) We believe that it is more difficult to hate others, even our adversaries and our enemies, when we are praying for them. We commit to pray for each other, those with whom we agree and those with whom we may disagree, so that together we may strive to be faithful witnesses to our Lord, who prayed “ that they may be one” (John 17:22).
More than 100 leaders signed on, but only a handful were recognizable Religious Right leader: Harry Jackson, Samuel Rodriguez, Robert George, and Chuck Colson.
Let’s see, Rodriguez recently particiapted in the right-wing anti-health care reform “prayercast” where he declared “the same spirit of Herod who 2000 years ago attempted to exterminate the life of the Messiah today lives even America. The legislation that incorporates death and infanticide all under the capopy of reform.”
Jackson has been militantly crusading against marriage equality in Washington DC , declaring that it is an effort by gays to oppress blacks and warning of “bloodletting” if the issue is not put to a vote.
And Colson, who believes that gay marriage causes terrorism, recently teamed up with George to produce The Manhattan Declaration, which they sold as Christians’ last hope for preventing America from sliding into totalitarianism and Nazi-like dictatorship.
So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little skeptical of their pledge to “be mindful of the language” they use and to stop “impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith.”