'Civility May Not Be Sexy'
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
Civility 'Key to our Political Salvation'
Sojourners president Jim Wallis thinks everyone—particularly Christians—need a more civil political engagement.
"Civility may not be sexy, but it is now key to our political salvation," said Wallis.
Wallis put his call for civility to the test when Fox News host Glenn Beck (once again) compared Wallis to a Nazi. Wallis responded by asking readers to petition the cable news channel to consider dropping Beck "for the sake of truth and civility."
In April, Wallis was one of about one hundred religious leaders to sign a covenant for civility even though they disagree on matters of faith or politics. Sojourners is now framing all of its election coverage as its "Truth and Civility Election Watch."
But not all political disputes take place on the campaign trail or on cable news. Some occur between activists.
Case in point: Buster Wilson, networks general manager for American Family Radio, said that Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was promoting Islam.
Land is a member of the Anti-Defamation League's new Interfaith Coalition on Mosques. The coalition states that it believes "the best way to uphold America's democratic values is to ensure that Muslims can exercise the same religious freedom enjoyed by everyone in America. They deserve nothing less than to have a place of worship like everyone else." The coalition does, however, recognize that the building of mosques and other places of worship is not an absolute right; groups must adhere to all laws and zoning ordinances.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily, Land said, "[Baptists] believe that people have the freedom to worship and to express their faith and to have houses of worship in the places where they live."
But Wilson said Land had gone too far. He criticized Land's involvement with the "Jewish Anti Defamation League" program which "has the sole purpose of making the way clear for Muslims to advance their religion in America with the building of mosques without harassment."
Wilson also attacked Land for supporting the building of a specific mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The mosque is constructing a new building, but faces local opposition and their construction site has been the target of vandalism and arson.
"At this present moment, it's Muslims who are victims. We have a case right here in Murfreesboro, Tenn., for instance, where there's been vandalism and arson in an attempt to stop a mosque from being built," Land said. "They've crossed all the 'T's' and dotted all the 'I's'. They've gotten through all of the zoning requests and people have resorted to violence to keep them from having a place of worship where they live. And we believe that's un-American."
Wilson disagreed. "Yes, we too uphold the religious freedoms for all Americans. BUT, we do not JOIN up with an organization to encourage the building of Mosques, Free Thinker's Societies, Mormon Temples, etc, etc, etc. just because they had that RIGHT as Americans … I will fight for their right to worship as they please, as long as their worship doesn't involve blowing me up."
Wilson went on to say that only a small percentage of Muslims are non-violent, and that all terrorists from the last forty years have been Muslims.
Dan Nejfelt of Faith in Public Life said this type of argument is the definition of bigotry. "Collective guilt is behind much of the rising anti-Muslim sentiment in this America. The actions of Muslim group A is cited as a basis for hostility toward Muslims in general," said Nejfelt. "This form of argument is not only fundamentally illogical, it is considered beyond the pale of civil discourse when applied to any other group."