January 11th, 2011
05:53 PM ET

Leading evangelical halts effort to increase political civility

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

At a moment when many Americans are decrying the overheated tone of American politics, an influential evangelical voice said Tuesday he is folding a project he helped found to increase political civility.

Mark DeMoss said he is halting the initiative, called the Civility Project, due to lack of interest.

“After only three members of Congress agreed to sign this Civility Pledge last year I’ve decided to shut it down,” DeMoss told CNN by e-mail on Tuesday. He runs a public relations firm that represents Franklin Graham, Campus Crusade for Christ International and other major Christian figures and groups.

DeMoss announced that he is closing his project in a recent letter to the handful of politicians who signed the project’s pledge.

“I’m worried about where we’re headed as a country on the civility scale,” DeMoss said in the letter, dated January 3. “I’d be more worried if I were an elected representative at any level.”

DeMoss made clear he was referring to Americans’ growing apathy and frustration toward government, as opposed to concerns about violence toward politicians, like the shooting in which Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was wounded Saturday.

A conservative Republican who helped introduce former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to leading evangelicals when the Romney, a Mormon, ran for president in 2008, DeMoss singled out political conservatives for criticism in his letter.

“Perhaps one of the most surprising results of this project has been the tone and language used by many of those posting comments on our website and following articles on various media websites about the project,” his letter said.

“Many of them could not be printed or spoken in public media due to vulgar language and vicious personal attacks,” the letter continued. “Sadly, a majority of these came from fellow conservatives.”

DeMoss launched the Civility Project in 2007 with Lanny Davis, a prominent Democrat who served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton.

The two sent their civility pledge to every member of Congress and to every sitting governor, 585 public officials in all. DeMoss said he spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on the effort.

DeMoss’ letter last week was sent to the three elected officials who signed the civility pledge: U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut; Rep. Frank Wolfe, R-Virginia; and Rep. Sue Myrick, R-North Carolina.

“I must admit to scratching my head as to why only three members of Congress, and no governors, would agree to what I believe is a rather low bar,” DeMoss wrote in the letter.

The pledge ran 32-words:

1. I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.

2. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.

3. I will stand against incivility when I see it.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Politics

soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    It's not that they won't be civil, they simply won't sign this condescending, half baked pledge that serves no purpose but to lend fame and credibility to Franklin Graham and his organization. Bravo to most senators for seeing through this clumsy, obvious sham. Lieberman shows himself once again to be not the 'sharpest pencil in the drawer'. Sigh.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  2. Laughing

    What a lesson in civility I had in reading these comments.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  3. HookedonTruth

    Cnn Editor, Could you elaborate? I actually have an education from an Ivy League College in NY. Thank you for the laugh!

    January 12, 2011 at 5:44 am |
  4. Cnn Editor

    Your random rambling suggests you were educated in Alabama, in a public school system which operated out of an outhouse.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:25 am |
  5. HookedonTruth

    Hey Kit, how did Obama "sell us out" TARP was in process prior to Obama stepping into the Oval Office. I would say it's not Miles that's "out of touch with reality" its you!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:38 am |
  6. HookedonTruth

    People of Faith, can I ask you a question? When looking up the definition of GOD, it states "there are many Gods". If you don't know the name of the God that you are worshiping aren't you driving blind? It would be like me calling you Sir or Mam in a room full of people wouldn't it? I get a kick out of people in organized religion using the big "G" to describe the God they believe in. I'm not a bible thumper but I know that those who are christians worship Yaweh – the name of their God.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:23 am |
    • bRad

      so a definition saying there are multiple "gods" makes it true? Yaweh just means God anyways......not "the" name for god. To a Christian, there is only one God. hence the singular name(leaving the trinity out).Everything else is an idol or a false god.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  7. HookedonTruth

    The next time we "The People" can vote during the primaries let's vote for the politician with the lowest campaign funding. This "underdog" with the lowest campaign contributions will be the least biased by lobbyists and special interests. I know it sounds radical but sadly it's our best chance at making change and flipping "We the People" back into the drivers seat

    January 12, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • bRad

      Let's elect the less corrupt!!! We will save the the system! They are only mostly in the lobbyist pocket! I gonna go vote!!!

      January 12, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  8. HookedonTruth

    The next time we "The People" can vote during the primaries let's vote for the politician with the lowest campaign funding. This "underdog" with the lowest campaign contributions will be the least biased by lobbyists and special interests. I know it sounds radical but sadly it's our best chance at making change and flipping "We the People" back into the drivers seat!

    January 12, 2011 at 3:28 am |
  9. Mike

    Who were the 3 that cared enough to sign?

    January 12, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  10. toolittletoolate

    obviously... The internet formula will continue where bevis and butthead will attempt escape the same low wage jobs they have been handing out to the world for decades.. Hoping to create anarchy with one hand and christian bribery with the other. Its all good really.. The n.r.a. Will continue to lead the true revolution within america and the most intelligent people in the real world will ignore them and the assange clone santa internet versions to come. Perfect.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  11. Jon

    While politics is disgusting to me, I must say that its not really that bad, besides the hitler comparisons and scare tactics. It just seems worse now because we have it in our palms 24/7. I actually like working now because it gets me away from the news.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  12. Miles


    It's really easy to round up the numbers and talk trash on what Obama and this administration is doing, huh?

    Why don't you channel that ignorant negativity into a cause for something good.

    Why don't you mention that the unemployment rate is actually down, that the economy has shown positive gains for 5 quarters, and that the stock market is flourishing?

    No, Beck and the talking cronies at Fox didn't bring any of that up, did they?

    Learn to start creating your own thoughts, not mindless, incorrect rubbish that some right wing nut fed you.



    January 11, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Kit


      Your are so out of touch with reality. It's sad. Obama sold us out.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:06 am |
    • Miles

      You're right Kit...me, Jon Stewart, and factcheck.org are all out of touch with reality....

      Sold us out? What does that even mean exactly? It makes no sense.

      Are you trying to say he said he would do some things that haven't cone to fruition? In that case I agree with you, but for chrissakes, the republican party made it a point to fight him on every single policy or initiative he proposed. Even ones they agreed and sided with previousely.

      Pure hypocrisy, by both sides, but honestly Obama gets a bad rep for what, trying to boost the economy and making us healthier?

      What a sell-out!


      January 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  13. Civil Sally

    I say fuhck that.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  14. Gary

    civility? not even in sports, too many steroids,overpaid under achieving players,greedy owners, its a jungle out there, only mountain biking fishing and hiking to I find civility,serenity and peace......and deep meditation too.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Tiff

      Regardless of all influences.... civility is a choice... do you hold integrity or not? That simple, end of story.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  15. Gary

    Oh two vietnams,tax class war fare,best medical system in world being destroyed,conservative's hating on gays ....

    January 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Albert911emt

      LOL, the best medical system in the world? Other countries pay far less for medical care, and have longer life spans than we do in the US. Go do some research and see for yourself.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • pete

      albert- as a medical professional i would say that we do have the best medical system in the world. Delievery of the medical system is not the best. And people in other countries live longer, not because of their health care system. It ususally stems from things like diet, amount of exercise and the level of stress (working American's rank right up there with most hours worked yearly).

      January 12, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • PFREE

      Pete – We could also build the best cars in the world but if no-one could afford to buy them what would be the point. When Arizon will no longer pay for liver transplants to those that cannot afford them how can you tell them with a straight face that we have the best medical system in the world?

      January 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  16. Gary

    civility is hard to achieve during 10% unemployment 30% underemployment,shrinking middle class,jobs continuing to flow over seas,no tariffs on Chinese goods,porous boarders,political correctness overload, civility? lol !!!

    January 11, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  17. Matthew in Chicago

    Lobbyists don't pay politicians to be civil.

    January 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • wm Scot

      You got that right. The politicians want the money and lobbyists want the power. We the people want them both out of business and get some folks in there that do not bow to the corporate and religious gods.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Cliff Vegas

    When I first heard about the Tea Party, I thought that the 'revolution' meant that politics would never be the same – that people might work beyond ideology and look to statesmanship for attainable compromise and sustainable agreements. Why not?

    January 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • ARob

      That's hard to believe. The Tea Party was and still is totally ideology-driven. In fact, their entire campaign is built on anger.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  19. Trav1

    Amen to that ScottK. People don not even want to attempt to be civil.

    January 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  20. Let Us Prey

    What a revelation: Politics is not civil. Breaking news... Civility has never been a factor in the history of politics. Politics, and it's functionaries, are inherently corrupt.

    January 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • ScottK

      And not politics is also not civil. "Anarchy – Absence of government; a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder." – Wiki

      Why can't we at least aspire to have civil politics? Especially since the opposite will certainly continue to get worse. We are all our own Gods in our own minds, and everyone thinks they know what is best for mankind, and everyone is wrong.

      January 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • Diane

      Hi. I'm religious. Can I butt in here please and say a few words to make my cause seem important? I sure hope you don't mind, thank you. Hello. I'm religion. And I'm so important. Ok, I'm done. What were you guys talking about again?

      January 11, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Albert911emt

      Diane, what's the point of your comments? That a person trying to get people to treat others better is wasting his time, or he's just looking for attention? You obviously don't have anything constructive to add to the conversation.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • JonathanL

      That would be like Congress trying to get Evangelical Leaders to disclose and detail their income and expenses, to pledge not to commit child abuse. I don't think they'd be interested.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • ARob

      That's because no one does much to make it otherwise. Fatalism is tacit endorsement of what has gone before. Saying that things are 'just like that' means that you don't want them to change, or don't care.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • morgan fiddlebuttley

      Sojourners has a much finer personal pledge to civility. http://www.sojo.net

      January 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.