November 3rd, 2011
10:47 AM ET

In age of political vitriol, opposing Christians call for civility

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - The faith community needs to be a check against political vitriol in the 2012 election, which two religious leaders say has the potential to be the "ugliest campaign" in decades.

Jim Wallis, the progressive CEO of Sojourners, and Richard Land, the conservative head of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, are two religious scholars with opposing political views. But at their joint event at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday, they agreed on some issues as they discussed and debated faith and the 2012 election.

According to Wallis, while he disagrees with Land on most political issues, they were able to have a civil debate - something Wallis hopes politicians can learn from.

"Richard Land and I are friends and we agree and disagree about policy matters. But the way we talk about it is in a civil manner," Wallis said.

The discussion, moderated by Amy Sullivan of TIME Magazine, ranged from income inequality to energy policy. While Wallis and Land disagreed at times, they did so "without questioning the other's character," Wallis said.

He said the faith community must not be in the pocket of only one party, but must hold both parties to the same standard.

"Our moral values and commitments don't fall along left, right, liberal and conservative lines," Wallis said. "I think that truth does matter and holding both sides accountable when they are not telling the truth, that is a good thing we can do."

Land agreed, saying that the faith community in America must lead by example.

"Instead of attacking the person, we deal with issues and we call people when they start straying from that," Land explained. "We are going to have to be very watchful. I think the temptation for this one to get down and dirty is going to be overwhelming."

Both men, speaking from their respective ideological viewpoints, said there was cause for concern about the path this election could take.

Land said he worried that when President Barack Obama's re-election campaign looks at the polling numbers, they will realize that Obama "has got no choice if he wants to get re-elected but to take the focus off of issues and start saying, 'Well, my opponent's worse than I would be.'"

Wallis noted that the bar was set for a vitriolic campaign when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his top priority was to make Obama a one-term president.

Though it may be to difficult to stop, said Land, the key is being able to debate sensitive, moral issues without attacking someone's personal character.

"I can disagree with everything that Obama does and still not attack his character or his personality and his patriotism," Land said. "I think he is generally doing what he thinks is right for the country."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Politics

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Iqbal Khan


    November 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  2. Josh

    Funny, the only thing coming from the religious is lies, and vitriol. lolololol. They lie about, and bash Gay people. They lie about, and bash other religions, they lie about, and bash liberals. Lies, bashing, mud slinging, etc etc etc spew from the religious, and the gop like a fire hydrant. *yaaawwwwwn* am I surprised?

    November 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  3. Avser Bastian



    http://www.youtube.com/user/BostjanAvsec <== OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009 !!! These are hard facts about lunatic Obama/Bush's twilight zone administrations(HORROR) or genocide against whites per ZIONIST Washington DC and communist Moscow where new SOVIET UNION NUMBER TWO WANNA BE or new Stalin is in place = PUTIN !!!




    Wall street protesters are Obama's raise of the planet Apes army which spread from London per Zionist Washington DC and communist Moscow where Mr. SOVIET UNION NUMBER TWO or new Stalin is in place = PUTIN


    Anonymous !!? REALLY !!?



    GREEK CRISES http://burnbabyburnahaha.blogspot.com

    November 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  4. mrkusn

    Civility? I think that Land are generally on the right track, but after three years of the Obama presidency, I have heard much the opposite coming from the right. The evangelicals like Land often get their talking points, along with the tenor of those points, from persons who do not necessarily follow the path of civility. This has led to an inconsistent message from evangelicals.

    November 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  5. myklds

    May God Bless all the atheists.

    November 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Dr. Zeuss

      Thanks for nothing, idiot.

      November 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  6. skip

    political vitriol – mixed with religion – blech. not looking forward to the election year of these non-stop, "ad nauseum" political ads. nope.

    November 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  7. Aezel

    What a joke, religious nutbags are the ones partially responsible for CREATING vitriol.

    "Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."

    -Barry Goldwater, five-term US Senator, Republican Party nominee for President in 1964*, Maj. Gen., US Air Force Reserves.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • Dr. Zeuss

      Yeah, scary. At least one bit of good news lately is that Michele Bachward has been declining steeply in popularity. She and the extreme religious teabaggers define the term wingnut.

      November 5, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Beverlee

      Ah, yes. It is all the religious at OWS throughout the country that are raping, pillaging and plundering the cities the occupy. The are all about religion as the trap the opposition in buildings putting their children in harms way. It is the right who physically and verbally abusing the police. Tsk, tsk, tsk...shame on the religious right. Darn Christian fundamentalists. They need to sit down, be quite and let the left rule the world. Teeheeheeheehee.

      November 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Reality

    Dear Reverend Land,

    A topic for discussion at the debate with Mr. Wallis:

    From: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1855948_1861760_1862212,00.html#ixzz0jg0lEyZj

    “Facing calls to curb child se-x abuse within its churches, in June the Southern Baptist Convention — the largest U.S. religious body after the Catholic Church — urged local hiring committees to conduct federal background checks but rejected a proposal to create a central database of staff and clergy who have been either convicted of or indicted on charges of molesting minors. The SBC decided against such a database in part because its principle of local autonomy means it cannot compel individual churches to report any information. And while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record-keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse. "

    November 4, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  9. Reality

    Follow the money trail when it comes to likes of Jim Wallis, Richard Land, Billy Graham, Glenn Beck, Franklin Graham, Eboo Patel et al.

    e.g. –
    "In July 2010, Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD magazine, wrote that Sojourners accepted money from George Soros, who has financed groups supporting abortion and atheism.[6] Jim Wallis responded as follows: "It's not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I'm sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don't receive money from Soros." Wallis later admitted that Sojourners had, in fact, accepted funds from Soros' Open Society Inst-itute. Wallis stated that the funds made up "the tiniest fraction of Sojourner's funding during that decade–so small that I hadn't remembered them."[6] The grants from the Open Society Insti-tute totaled $275,000 from 2004 to 2007.[7] Wallis apologized to Olasky for his comments about him. Jay Richards wrote that Sojourners had received $2.2 million from various foundation grants from 2003 to 2009, including the Tides Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Wallace Global Fund, and the Streisand Foundation."

    Maybe the Sojourners aka Jim Wallis will sponsor AIDs research with some of their funding? No donations to AIDs support listed on their IRS Form 990. But what do we find on the Sojourners aka Jim Wallis' IRS Form 990 (guidestar.org)?
    Jim Wallis is paid $351,140/yr which includes benefits and speaking honoraria for doing things like giving BO grief about AIDs funding. They/he also have/has ~$1 million invested in the stock and bond market. (A million dollars for AIDS support in Africa would be great.) Again Mr. Wallis/Sojourners pays no taxes on the dividends, interest or capital gains on these investments.

    November 4, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  10. Mirosal

    Article 6 of the U.S. Const.itution specifically says that NO religious test is ever required for ANY public office, from President down to city dog catcher. If you really believe that a 2000 year old book filled with 3000 year old stories is going to guide us, you're sadly mistaken. That "book" (for lack of a better term) has done nothing except divide, conquer and control. I guess if you want to wage war, don't read Sun Tzu, ust open the Babble

    November 4, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  11. jwas1914

    It’s true that religion should not be mixed in politics. A true Christian believes in the kingdom of God and that His kingdom will someday put an end to governments and false religion. (Daniel 2:44) So; why would a Christian part take in political events? Did Jesus Christ involve himself in the political world? No; because he believed that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one and because man has dominated man to his own injury.” (1 John 5:19; Ecclesiastes 8:9) This is why when Jesus was on earth the people were pleased with his teachings that they attempted to make him king and “he withdrew into the mountain all alone.” (John 6:15) There have been men and women with good intentions to better society through political channels. But a politician well-intended will always be influenced by the power of the one whom Christ called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31: 14:30). It is why Jesus said “my kingdom is no part of this world” (John 18:36). For any Christian to involve themselves in politics is against Jehovah God and our Lord Jesus Christ since their kingdom will put an end to all the governments of today and anyone that associates with them. Please read your Bible daily.

    November 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Reality

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!
      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?

      November 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @REALITY "So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?"
      Naturally you don't believe Luke's gospel, but Jesus is quoted as READING in the synagogue at Capernaum – doen't sound like illiteracy to me. But you already knew this. "Long dead preacher man"? The self-styled free-thinkers who cannot produce an original thought might irrelevant while they're still alive. Apparently, the longer he's dead the more irritating he is to his enemies. Christians have been waiting for his return for 2 millenia, chump change in cosmic time. Atheists have spent 2 millenia trying to get him to go away.

      November 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Reality

      There is only one place in the NT that suggests Jesus could read i.e. Luke 4:16. This passage is not attested to in any other NT passage or in any other related doc-ument making it a later addition or poor translation as per most NT scholars' analyses.

      See also Professor Crossan and Professor Reed's book, Excavating Jesus, p. 30.

      See also Professor Bruce Chilton's commentary in his book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography, pp 99-101- An excerpt:

      "What Luke misses is that Jesus stood in the synagogue as an illiterate mamzer in his claim to be the Lord's anointed".

      It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's 878 page book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.


      November 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  12. Alien Orifice

    Be not a fool! Follow the teachings of the HippyPoet and worship the ALMIGHTY SUN! Get naked and lather generous portions of SPF 50 on your naked body and dance in the warmth of the GIVER of all LIFE! Hippy will share his Glenfiddich 50, er...18 with us all and pass the medicine on the left hand side! Rejoice!!

    lololololololololololololololololololol it's SooooOOooooOoooo Funny! Let's keep repeating the same stupid joke over and over and over and over and over for weeks on end!! That's the ticket! Where's the beef? lololololololololololololol

    LMAO! I can't stop laughing it's SooooOOoooOOOooooOOooo funny! LMFAO LMAO LOL ROFL ROFLMAO!

    hippy you're such a riot! Oh you slay me with your wit!

    November 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      None of the post on this page from Alien or Sheik are real. It is the stalker. You will see no Alien or Sheik posts today (unless they are fake).

      November 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • AGuest9

      All silliness aside, hippy's sun-worship is much, much closer to the truth than the bible believers'. The 6,000 year old earth is quite a joke, seeing that modern humans were living in northwest Europe about 42,500 years ago, in close proximity with neanderthals..

      November 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Answer

      Prehistoric man all have been trying to explain our sun and in doing so have found their fairy tales. The fairy tale of the gods and thus religion.

      November 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • hippypoet

      hehe, thank you for the recognition. I have long studied and found that nearly all religions stem from 1 of 2 different type of worshipping – first is the object, a tree, a river, the sky, the sun..this kinda stuff – its also more common then number 2 – animal worship, creation of mythological animals and so on and so forth. the most common animal to be worshipped was the crocodile, the most common object to worship is the sun. Many old cultures have base religions built off of these ideas of what matters – life and death... the crocodile judges and decides to either eat you or not. The sun provides warmth and light in the day for safety against a land pred. The sky gives rain which grows food. The rivers are where animals gather, as well as we when in need for water (if its fresh water). ITs from these that a culture will create a story to explain why they worship, and in the story they will normally tell a morality tale. Its normally about a choice that was wrong but right at the time. It is in every major culture down to its core beliefs. Its the newer cultures that expand on these ideas, create new ones that better serve them at the moment or if the belief has changed in its foundamental understanding. example – heaven is in the sky and hell in the ground – right? well it was at one point....not anymore because we know better. The world is flat...well no but at one time, sure it was right? no, it was never flat however if we believe it is, then it is!

      So i created a new Sun god and i even wrote a story of the moon being jelous and stealing the Sun's light, outta of simple curiousity the Sun goes and askes and out of kindness allows the moon to reflect the light instead – as a compromise!

      The first peoples worshipped the Sun and so will the last of us on this planet...only because if one feels the need to worship something what makes more sense then the Sun?

      November 4, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  13. Alien Orifice

    We all have to live in the real world. In the real world, I do not insult Christians or anyone else for that matter. Why? What am I gonna do, alienate my kid's friends and parents? My wife's friiends? My work Colleagues? Of course not. I never talk religion or politics in the real world.

    This is not the real world. This is a virtual world where I can actually say what I feel like saying and mostly that involves condemning religion.

    In this world I win. If you come in here and can't take a punch, get out.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Brad Paisley

      Alien, you are so much cooler online

      November 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I know right?

      November 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti


      November 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Speaking of taking a punch....

      November 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  14. Ching Chang Chong

    I like turtles.

    November 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  15. tallulah13

    Foxes and henhouses.

    November 3, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  16. BoldGeorge

    Most unbelievers (meaning non-Christians) could use a little civility towards Christians on this forum. And as far as religion in politics, no matter how much anyone may try, religion will always be a topic or have some pull in US politics.

    November 3, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Ed

      frankly quite a few believers chould need to learn a lossen in civility too. The artcle seems like a good idea for politicians and many of the people on this blog believers or not.

      November 3, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • BoldGeorge

      You're right. I was mainly referring to unbelievers' insults, attacks and mocking of God, Jesus Christ and Christians. It's one thing to choose not to believe in God or not consider Jesus Christ being the only way to heaven, but to insult and attack His teachings or His followers in any way only makes the Bible prove its point. Besides, it's mostly done to Christians. Just this morning I read an article about a news agency being burnt down in France for portraying Mohammad in a cartoon. I definitely do not condone this type of response but it makes me wonder if this is the reason why Americans fear to portray, much less mock Mohammad in any way.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • TheTruthFairy

      I don't think non-Christians are alone in needing to use more civility in dealing with others, and as sad as it is about religion in politics, I begrudgingly have to agree with you.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • JohnR

      There is no way to respond to what is in the bible except to say that the god of the bible is evil. That's not an uncivil comment. It's the truth.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Perhaps, George, we non-believers are tired of being told we're bound for hell for our lack of belief in your specific mythology. Telling a christian that their beliefs are antiquated, misogynistic, backwards and downright silly may be insulting, but I don't feel it compares to being told I deserve eternal punishment for not being a slave to your particular ideology.

      Further, religiosity is on the decline in America. The evangelicals are screaming louder than ever, but more and more youth are waking up to the fact that your belief system is twisted and ultimately immoral. It won't happen in my lifetime, but eventually christianity in America will go the way of christianity in Europe. It becomes more and more irrelevant with each passing generation.

      November 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Dr. Zeuss

      BoldGeorge, you're a stupid, deluded twit. And I mean that.

      November 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • apostate

      I'm not going to respect your belief in completely ridiculous nonsense or your imaginary friend. Get over it.

      November 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  17. hippypoet

    a christian calling for civility is a joke of its own! i am waiting for the perfect punch line – watch it come out of the spanish inq. or the curasdes or something – maybe they will find peace after burning some witches!

    November 3, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • clay

      That's pretty hypocritical. Are you Atheistic, or do you still worship the sun? Either way, it's still hypocritical. There are plenty of Atheists who lack civility, and the Aztecs worshiped the sun to (Tonatiuh), and believed it demanded sacrifices.

      November 3, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • MasterChief



      November 3, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • clay

      Are you laughing at me or with me? XD
      Btw, I love your username, play Halo much?

      November 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Clay, you had to go there so here it is:

      Be not a fool! Follow the teachings of the HippyPoet and worship the ALMIGHTY SUN! Get naked and lather generous portions of SPF 50 on your naked body and dance in the warmth of the GIVER of all LIFE! Hippy will share his Glenfiddich 50, er...18 with us all and pass the medicine on the left hand side! Rejoice!!

      November 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • hippypoet

      lol, yes clay i am an atheist... i created the sun whorshipping thing to have argument against religion from a religious stand point... however, the sun makes more sense then something you can't see or feel – the sun also gives free energy...your god once did that for the jews, my gives it to the human race as well as everything else on the planet, fuk even the planet is nothing without the sun... but back to your point – yes it is very hypocritical of me, AND thats the point, every religious person i have ever met has and on a constant basis broken the tenets of there faith without regard for there souls – it seems to only be the person's conscience that dictates what is right and wrong... the belief in a god figure is just because its tradition to and plus every else believes so its always to be part of the group instead of an outsider – that is sadly human nature to be part of the group. If you go alone you may end up dead – its fear that creates a predisposition to believe. I argue in strange ways but they do get results...

      November 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  18. J.W

    I think these republicans should start acting like Christians, or else voters will see that the democrats are more Christ-like. The republicans are more like the crazy atheists.

    November 3, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Try to make the same point without name-calling, and I'll give you a civility prize. Otherwise, you diminish your point.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • J.W

      I was trying to get a rise out of my atheist friends on here by comparing them to republicans. They probably knew that though.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      I personally think that religion should stay out of politics. It has NO bearing. I don't care if Obama is a Christian, a Muslim, follows Hippypoet's "sun-worshipping" group, or has no religious beliefs at all. Can he get this country's focus back on the average person, or is he just another lame-duck figurehead who is beholden to Congress to make all of the decisions?

      November 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Ah! Well done.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • hippypoet

      DamianKnight, i agree , anyone who believes worshipping anything will do anything is nuts... we hold the ultimate authority over ourselves, and for that reason should be held accountible and not lay fault or blame on non existent beings. hence why i call the sun my god but don't worship it as that is silly for it will do no good. I say the sun because it is truly what you owe your life to!

      November 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  19. William Demuth

    Two headed dragon devouring our democracy

    November 3, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Doesn't Revelation call for a 7 headed serpent?
      You know – the one that spews torrents of water and eats pregnant women for a snack.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • JA

      Actually its ten horns with seven crowns on its heads. Which represent the 10 zones the world will be divided into during the tribulation. The anti-christ will have power over 7.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Thanks, Ja.
      That makes much more sense.
      Now tell me about the armour clad locusts with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion.
      Sounds like an entomologist's wet dream!

      November 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • captain america

      Try dreaming in your own country doc.

      November 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
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.