WASHINGTON – Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land has joined a diverse group of religious leaders in a prayer initiative calling for increased civility among government officials.
Conservative and liberal faith representatives began praying daily for civility among politicians when the new Congress was sworn in Jan. 3 and have pledged to pray until President Obama is inaugurated for a second term Jan. 21.
“We need to heed [President] Lincoln’s admonition to listen to ‘the better angels of our nature,’” said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “We are in a time of crisis in this country. We need first of all to quit questioning people’s motives and intent, and agree to disagree without being disagreeable, and seek areas of common ground where we can work together on issues that are important to the country.”
Among the initiative’s recommended prayer requests for Obama, members of Congress and other public officials are for them to:
Show patience with and respect for other politicians;
Avoid inflammatory language, as well as attacks on character and motives;
Demonstrate humility and admit their limited understanding;
Pray for political opponents.
Among those signing onto the pledge to participate were Pierre Bynum, chaplain, Family Research Council; Janice Shaw Crouse, director, the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America; Richard Cizik, president, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; Jim Wallis, chief executive officer, Sojourners, and Liz McCloskey, president, Faith & Politics Institute.
Other participants included Peg Chemberlin, president, National Council of Churches; Julius Scruggs, president, National Baptist Convention, USA; Roy Medley, general secretary, American Baptist Churches; Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop, Episcopal Church; Jim Winkler, general secretary, United Methodist General Board of Church & Society; Larry Snyder, president, Catholic Charities USA; James Forbes, professor at Union Theological Seminary and senior minister emeritus at Riverside Church in New York City, and Eboo Patel, Muslim founder of the Interfaith Youth Core.
Two former members of Congress also joined the initiative: Sen. John Danforth, R.-Mo., and Rep. Ronnie Shows, D.-Miss. Danforth also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.
Land and many of the others involved in the prayer initiative participated in the “Better Angels Summit” sponsored by the Faith & Politics Institute in June. That meeting – and a prayer partnership started by Bynum and Chemberlin – led to the prayer initiative for civility.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)