Civility Linkblogging: Faith Leaders and Civil Politics

Civility LinkbloggingCivility Linkblogging is an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This month brings us a selection of (mostly) religious voices, from all ends of the political spectrum, calling for civility, tolerance, and kindness. This includes a Unitarian Universalist minister drawing a distinction between debate with the goal of better understanding, and debate with the lesser goal of winning. It includes a Mormon commentator examining civility as a trans-religious value that strengthens society. It includes a Methodist minister reflecting on the value of political correctness. And it includes a Baptist asking us to move beyond civility — to embrace kindness as an active strategy against sin.

As always, if you have an article that you think would be right for future civility linkblogging posts, please do not hesitate to email it to us at [email protected]. Include the title, url, and a short summary, and we will gladly review it for publication.

Now — the list:

Bring Civility to the Debate Process
Posted by Julia Corbett-Hemeyer at The Star Press, March 5, 2016

There is nothing wrong with candidates throwing themselves passionately into the topic at hand. The situations the United States faces at home and abroad are certainly complicated enough that sincere, reasonable and good-hearted women and men will disagree on the best courses of action. The complexity of the world in which political decisions must be made guarantees that, in addition to good decisions, mistakes will inevitably be made. There will be ample cause to challenge the choices and judgments of one’s predecessors and those on the other side of the political party aisle.

We are not at our best, however, when we are sniping at each other and engaging in personal attacks in the name of debate. We are not at our best when name calling and innuendo cloud our discussion of the issues and of what’s good for the country. We are not at our best when we engage in debate with the goal of “winning” and assuring that our “opponents” are defeated.

Civility is Essential to Strong Societies
Posted by Kristine Frederickson at Desert News, March 6, 2016

The definition itself teaches us the consequences of incivility: When we are uncivil, we become harsh, unmerciful, uncaring, poorly performing citizens who, inevitably, will engage in disorderly behavior. We do not need to look far to see this occurring all around us — road rage, physical altercations, physical attacks, and verbal and physical abuse are evident everywhere.

Incivility has the capacity to destroy strong, unified and healthy societies. The reverse is true — harmonious, courteous, safe and civil communities persist by exhibiting respectful, kind and concerned human interaction.

We Need Civility in Politics Because The Kids ARE Watching
Posted at The Times of San Diego, March 7, 2016

Perhaps we can’t stop the escalating behavior and rhetoric in the political landscape, but we can provide students with an understanding of our how our government works best, how to critically assess the 2016 primaries, and how the respective candidates’ ideas, styles and capacity for collaboration might affect our democracy.

In this election year, the anger, distrust and contentiousness of the people toward government have gotten our attention. What hasn’t been talked about so much is how this mood affects those who will inherit the future: our youth. Will the unintended consequences of this toxic election year move our nation into an era of even further division and fragmentation? Or will we find the will to show the next generation how to live effectively in a diverse and eclectic world with others of differing opinions?How we answer this question for our children may well shape the America we leave them even more than the actual election outcome.

Political Correctness is Correct
Posted by Doug Fairbanks at, March 19, 2016

So this brings me to the correctness of political correctness. In my opinion, political correctness is just one attempt to help all of us be more aware of the value and worth of every human being. We only need to access any form of news media to discover that our world and our society have not risen to that high calling. And, though political correctness can make us feel a bit uncomfortable at times, better that than becoming so complacent in regards to human relationships that we become numb to treating each other with mutual respect.

As a child, I learned to sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” As a Christian, I am reminded that my main goal is to love as God loves. As a human being, I am aware that I fail at that more often than I care to admit. But at least the awareness of the truth bothers me enough that I keep on trying to imitate God’s extravagant love.

Again, political correctness is at least a feeble attempt to be like a burr under the saddle of our human psyche, reminding us that all is not well in human relationships and we need to keep trying to make it better. Indeed, we need to keep trying to make it much better. And I say better that we continue to be disturbed in this regard than just write off the correctness of political correctness.

We Need More Than Civility; We Need Kindness
Posted by Russell D. Moore at, March 19, 2016

When we don’t oppose demons, we demonize opponents. And without a clear vision of the concrete forces we as the church are supposed to be aligned against, we find it very difficult to differentiate between enemy combatants and their hostages.

The Scriptures command us to be gentle and kind to unbelievers, not because we are not at war, but because we’re not at war with them (2 Tim. 2:26). When we see that we are warring against principalities and powers in the heavenly places, we can see that we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). The path to peace isn’t through bellicosity or surrender, but through fighting the right war (Rom. 16:20). We rage against the Reptile, not against his prey.

We hear many calls, from across the religious and political spectrum, for civility. But civility is not enough. Civility is a neutral ground, a sort of mutual non-aggression pact, where we agree to respect one another and not to belittle one another. That’s important, and a good start, but that’s not enough. Just as we are not for “toleration” of those who religiously disagree with us but for “liberty,” so we should not be for mere civility, but for, from our end, kindness. Civility is passive; kindness is active and strategic.

Civility Linkblogging: Australia, Akron, Campus, and Syria

By Anita Pratanti, via flickr

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week’s roundup features an article about ordinary citizens in Ohio who are standing up to call for civility, from voters and from candidates alike, in the upcoming round of campaigns and elections. It includes an article about attitudes toward immigration reform and race in Australia. And it includes a discussion — transcribed and in podcast form — in which former U.S. Representative Jim Leach talks about the civility crisis in Washington, D.C., and offers some first steps toward dismantling that culture of acrimony.

If you have an article that you think would be right for future civility linkblogging posts, please do not hesitate to email it to us at [email protected]. Include the title, url, and a short summary, and we will gladly review it for publication.

Now, on to the list:

Watch Your Manners: Why Living Racism-Free is a Basic Human Right
Posted by Gillian Triggs at The Conversation, September 4, 2013

Civility is both a complex and simple idea. Most of us were brought up to respect others so, on that level, it is relatively straightforward.

Yet our society is replete with examples of behaviour that lacks basic civility, especially the racism and xenophobia that currently infuses the refugee debate. In a diverse society such as Australia, it is deeply worrying that we continue to mistreat people because of where they come from, their skin colour, gender, age, sexual preference or because they live with a disability.

Leach Lectures on the Lost Art of Civility
Posted at The Muscatine Journal, September 6, 2013

If we want to make our politics more civil, we ought to be more careful about the words we choose, former U.S. Representative Jim Leach said. President Obama is called a fascist and a communist, “sometimes at the same time by the same people.” When people openly talk about seceding from the United States, “I consider that a particularly serious word. These are words that have warring implications.”

For centuries, apparently, the media have played a role making the nation’s discourse less civil. In 1800, Leach said, Thomas Jefferson hired a journalist to call his rival for president, John Adams, a hermaphrodite. “Things were pretty divisive, even then,” Leach said.

Civility Projects to Influence Politics Launched by Akron-Area Groups
Posted by Dave Scott at, September 10, 2013

If you cringe at the thought of another political season, with all of its ugly barbs, you might be comforted to know that three community groups and some politicians are working for civility.

A former college professor has formed Civility Dynamics and will present three “intellectual consciousness-raising” workshops at a local library beginning tonight.

A Bath Township man has started Better Outcomes Political Forums to bring the disciplines of a trained mediator to political debates.

A Wadsworth group continues to discuss current events on public-access television while waiting for tax-exempt status to fund its civility promotions.

Civility Week Unified Students
Posted by Natalie Michelle Rankin at, September 12, 2013

Wednesday will officially kick off Civility Week at Florida State University. Florida State is dedicating the week of Sep. 11 to Sep. 17 to civility and respecting the values of the diversity Seminoles represent.

The weeklong event comes in the wake of controversial comments made by FSU student Mandy Thurston on her Vine account, though it is not directly related to Thurston’s post.

The Syria Debate and a Case for Humility and Civility
Posted by Marv Knox at The Baptist Standard, September 13, 2013

Many friends and I disagree on significant issues of politics and public policy. We talk over meals, occasionally in church, sometimes in cars. Often, we express our opinions passionately. But we never vilify or denigrate each other. And we always know the bonds of our friendship are far stronger—and more important—than the disagreements of our ideology. We disagree, but we part as friends.

What if America were like that? What if we learned to talk civilly? What if we agreed to argue the issues but not attack each other? What if we opened our minds as well as our hearts, relinquishing a tight grip on our arguments in order to learn from each other? We might not agree, but we could appreciate and respect one another.