Can we apply the Golden Rule to political discussions?

What would happen if we did?

Golden Rule 2020 - a call to apply this ethical principle to our political discussions

As Americans, we are hungry for a respectful tone in our politics and public life. Many of us are concerned that the hostility and bitter divides we see in the country will be made even worse by the upcoming elections. Golden Rule 2020 was created by a wide range of Christian leaders who believe that applying the ethical principal of the Golden Rule is the best way to bring dignity and respect to our political interactions. It is a simple concept, but one that is challenging to implement, to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” during this difficult election year.

 

Golden Rule is a principle held by many faiths and cultures.  Golden Rule 2020 actively welcomes all people – regardless of their faith.

The Golden Rule - a personal practice and a practical strategy for change

1) A personal spiritual practice—Following the Golden Rule in interactions with others–even those we disagree with–is a core teaching of many faiths.  The practice of applying this principle in our personal lives and interactions is challenging. And through ongoing personal reflection and conscious application to our interactions, we do find the courage and resolve to build bridges of respect with others.

2) A practical strategy for change–Martin Luther King famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness–only light can do that.”  Similarly, hostility, anger and disdain only create more of the same.  Treating someone with dignity and respect changes the nature of the conversation and opens up the possibility of real communication that can change relationships.

How the Golden Rule changes political discussions

The starting point for applying the Golden Rule in 2020 is the question: “How would I like others to behave towards me when I’m in a difficult political discussion?” There might be a range of answers, but common responses would almost certainly be things like:

  • Show respect for me
  • Listen patiently and with an open mind
  • Don’t call me names or assault my character
  • Do not question my faith or patriotism
  • Don’t exaggerate or distort my views
To apply the Golden Rule means to apply practices like these and other similar principles to our conversations about politics.

Prominent Faith-based Leaders and Organizations Support Golden Rule2020

We are Christians with different theological and political views who have come together to express concern about the polarization and incivility that is tearing our country apart. We are also deeply troubled by the prospect of an angry and hateful political campaign season in 2020 that will further divide us as a nation.

We believe that we can find guidance through this national dilemma in the teachings of Jesus. In particular, we believe that Jesus’ command to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” should be taken seriously by Christians who engage in political activity. We also believe that if enough people follow this “Golden Rule” principle, it will help generate the respect and civility we so desperately need in our country. Churches have an important role to play in helping to heal America, and 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.

To this end, we encourage Christians of different political views to come together on Sunday, November 3, 2019–exactly one year before the 2020 election–to launch Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics. On that day, and throughout 2020, we invite congregations and individuals to do two things: 1) pray for the healing of the divisions in our country, and 2) promote the use of the Golden Rule in our own political discussions and election activities.

Denominational and Organizational Leaders
Supporting Golden Rule2020

  • Dr. Paul Baxley—Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Director
  • Most Rev. Timothy P. Broglio—United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on International Justice and Peace
  • Galen Carey—National Association of Evangelicals, Vice President
  • Most Rev. Michael B. Curry—The Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop and Primate
  • Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane—United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human
    Development
  • Bishop Elizabeth Eaton—Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presiding Bishop
  • Rev. Curtis DeYoung—Minnesota Council of Churches, Director
  • Rev. Mark Ford—Love Akron Network, Founder
  • Don Golden—Red Letter Christians, Executive Director
  • Rev. Jimmie Hawkins—Presbyterian Church USA, Director, Office of Public Witness
  • Shirley Hoogstra—Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, President
  • Rev. Gabriel Salguero—National Latino Evangelical Coalition, President
  • Rev. Lee Spitzer—American Baptist Churches USA, General Secretary
  • Sandy Sorenson—United Church of Christ, Director of Washington Office
  • Ed Stetzer—Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, Director
  • Lance Walker—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Director, Public and International Affairs
Individuals can

Take Action

Congregations can

Take Action

  • Issue a joint statement to the media endorsing Golden Rule 2020 that is signed by pastors and church leaders who have different political views.
  • Conduct a Sunday School lesson on Christian teachings about the Golden Rule or using short non-denominational Golden Rule lesson plans.
  • Invite members of your congregation to an online or in person discussion with people from a more liberal or conservative congregation than yours.
  • Organize a small meeting or joint prayer service with members of another congregation where most people have different political views.

The Golden Rule 2020 Pledge

I commit to do my best to practice the Golden Rule and treat others with respect and dignity in my political discourse and behavior during the 2020 campaign season.

Why others took the Golden Rule 2020 Pledge:

I took the Golden Rule 2020 Pledge because (1) public discourse in America needs to improve, (2) the improvement needs to start with me, and (3) the pledge describes how I myself want to be treated by those on the other side of issues.

George

We cannot let our different political views divide our commitment to the Great Commission.

Jeff

To take a stand agaist the politics of personal destruction that has been waged across the nation

John

To make 2020 a year of love and growth and learning instead of a year of distrust and status quo and blindness.

Lindsey

I want to be a part of the change we need.

Paul

Because we are all humans created by God. We are allowed to have differing views right or wrong and not be cast down for those views

Debbie

Civil discourse is essential for the preservation of a civil society and for a faithfulness to the Christian witness.

Howard

Longing for reconciliation and civility in the church and the larger country.

Rhonda