Perhaps one of the most commonly quoted Biblical statements is what is known as the Golden Rule. In Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 7, verse 12, are the words of Jesus: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you, for this is the law and the prophets”

The National Institute for Civil Discourse is coordinating a yearlong effort — leading up to the 2020 national election — to pray for the healing of divisions in the United States and to promote use of the Golden Rule in politics.

The idea for “Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics” grew from a gathering, hosted by the National Institute for Civil Discourse at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., at which 20 major Christian leaders came together to explore how people of faith can work together to combat the incivility and division in the U.S.

“This is the time when we must put forth our better selves and endeavor to make the world a better place for the children of the world,” said Dr. Jimmy Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness. “We have so much to offer when we stand for that which is greater than ourselves: the love of God within and through us.”

Helping to create “Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics” are a range of denominational and organizational partners, including: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The American Baptist Churches U.S.A., National Association of Evangelicals, The Episcopal Church, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mormon Women for Ethical Government, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of Churches.

“In the year leading up to the 2020 national election, we want millions of Christians — as well as others who value the Golden Rule — to do their best to follow these principles as they interact with others they disagree with,” said Theo Brown, director of faith-based programs for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. “If enough people do this, it can have an impact on the political climate and make civility more of a central concern.” 

Brown, a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which is just blocks from the White House, said it saddens him to watch the political news, both because of specific events taking place and because of how he sees people on different sides of issues talking past each other. 

“If we follow the Golden Rule and treat our political opponents with more dignity and respect, then we can begin to de-escalate the hostility and look for ways to work together,” he said.

The Christian leaders who created Golden Rule 2020 believe that a large nationwide activity involving Christians of many different denominations will call attention to the fact that how we treat our political opponents is a moral issue.

“Churches have an important role to play in helping to heal America,” Brown said. “We hope and pray that local congregations will be active in efforts to increase understanding and bridge divisions in our country between now and the 2020 election.”

David Tritenbach is a retired Presbyterian minister. 

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