UM Council of Bishops President Urges Candidates to Stop Divisive Rhetoric

October 15, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, IL – (UMCOM) Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, this week called on U.S. presidential candidates to stop their divisive rhetoric and focus on issues important to Americans in the final weeks of this year’s campaign.

In an open pastoral letter to the presidential candidates and the church, Bishop Palmer said the public discourse of this year’s campaign “has often deteriorated into acrimonious, disrespectful and divisive rhetoric.”
 
“Let us urge all the presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates and campaigns to focus on the critical challenges that threaten the future of our nation and the world: poverty, war, racism, inequality of opportunity, the current financial crises, and terrorism in all its forms,” the letter said.
 
“I believe that people of faith are called to speak out on these vital issues, and to make sure that campaigns focus on what is vitally important to the American people and the world,” said Bishop Palmer. “The people need to challenge the candidates to stop the insults. They don’t improve our electoral process.”
 
Here is the text of the entire letter:
 
“Public discourse, especially in this season of presidential elections, has often deteriorated into acrimonious, disrespectful and divisive rhetoric. Such speech, in the interest of short-term political gain, will make it more difficult for the nation to unite to work together on the great challenges that face the United States and the world today.
 
“As bishops, we can call on people of faith to raise their voices to challenge all political parties and leaders to embrace a public discourse that is free of divisive and demeaning rhetoric. Respectful, principled, and vigorous debate on the issues which demand attention is the only way to move into a future that offers hope and solutions to our common problems.
 
“Let us urge all the presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates and campaigns to focus on the critical challenges that threaten the future of our nation and the world: poverty, war, racism, inequality of opportunity, the current financial crises, and terrorism in all its forms.
 
“It is my fervent prayer that whoever is elected the next President of the United States will receive respect and loyalty from all and will, through positive words and deeds that transcend party and perspective, help lead our nation and world into a more hopeful future.
 
“Finally, I urge you to invite United Methodists and all people of faith to:
 
·         Daily intercessory prayer for all candidates, voters and leaders in the U.S.,
·         Urge local religious leaders and groups to develop and circulate calls similar to this in their communities,
·         Circulate this message as widely as possible to local, state and national leaders and candidates in the U.S.,
·         [and] Urge the presidential and vice presidential candidates and their campaigns to commit themselves to conduct their debates, their advertisements and all their public speech in ways that honor the principles of fairness and accurac