A theologically diverse group of Christians will come together to pray for political civility as the United States is a year away from the next presidential election.
Known as “Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics,” the prayer campaign will begin on Sunday, as it marks exactly one year before the election.
Golden Rule 2020 was part of the Revive Civility project, which is overseen by the University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse.
Theo Brown, director of NICD’s Faith Based Programs, told The Christian Post that this was the first time they used the theme of the Golden Rule for their programs.
“The idea to use the Golden Rule as a way to promote civility emerged from a meeting we had back in May in Washington, D.C., with representatives of about a dozen Christian denominations as well as other national church organizations,” Brown said.
Brown told CP that he believed “faith communities have a huge role to play in reviving civility in the United States” because of their basic beliefs about humanity.
“All Christian denominations teach that each individual person — regardless of their political views — is someone created in the image of God. Therefore, each person is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect,” he continued.
“Because faith communities have these ethical values, it's easier to make the case to them that civility matters and that it's something they should pay attention to. The goal of Golden Rule 2020 is to remind Christians that our faith has something to say about how we talk to each other and that these insights are relevant to our political discussions — particularly in difficult times like these.”
Denominations involved in Golden Rule 2020 include: The Episcopal Church; the National Association of Evangelicals; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development; and Presbyterian Church (USA), among others.
The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of PCUSA's Office of Public Witness, told CP that he became involved in Golden Rule 2020 at the invite of Brown, a fellow Presbyterian.
“In the United States' political life, there is a lack of civility which is broadly evident throughout the political discourse of the country. It dates back further than the concerns over the present leadership in the White House,” Hawkins said.
“As I travel around the country, many Presbyterians voice concern over the lack of civility. Pastors share desiring to have tools instructing on how we can engage in conversations over controversial issues in the life of the congregation.”
As part of their involvement in Golden Rule 2020, PCUSA will direct their pastors to the prayer campaign’s resources to help with advancing civility.
“American churches are governed by a set of values which go beyond political positions. We are a community gathered in the name of a savior, Christ Jesus, who commands that our first and foremost loyalty is to Him and nothing else comes even close,” he said.
“Our political identity is important, but not our priority in our daily walk in faith. We are to treat each person with respect, even love. We are to ‘pray for those who persecute' us.”
Galen Carey, NAE vice president of government relations, told CP that his organization is “pleased to be part of this effort.”
“We commit to modeling civility in the ways we discuss issues and in how we interact with leaders, including those with whom we disagree,” Carey said.
“We have informed and encouraged our members to participate and have pointed them to resources they can use, including our own ‘For the Health of the Nation,’ which includes a strong call to civility.”
Carey hoped that all people “regardless of political affiliation or which candidates they support, will exercise civility as they engage in today’s challenging issues.”
“We need to remember that every human being is made in God’s image and should be treated with dignity and respect,” he concluded.