Senate Chaplain Barry Black believes that the United States has a “serious problem” when it comes to political incivility and that Christians should be leading the way when it comes to ushering civility back into society. Black, who has served as the chaplain for the upper house of the federal legislature for the past 15 years and is a retired U.S. Navy officer, recently spoke with the Christian Broadcasting Network regarding his concerns about the increasing tension and political incivility that is seemingly toxifying public discourse in America. “When, because of political differences, people can’t with their families enjoy the freedoms that this nation provides, we’ve got a serious problem,” Black said.
In a time when Trump administration officials are being kicked out of restaurants, harassed, and lawmakers are engaging in heated back-and-forth with the president on Twitter, Black says that a lot of the incivility on display today has do with “arrogance, swagger and trash talking.” “I think it’s critically important that we lower the decibels,” Black said. Proverbs 15:1 says, ‘A soft answer turns away anger,’ and we obey the Golden Rule as written in Matthew 7:12, which states: ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you.’
“I think Christians should be leading the charge in returning to civility by practicing what we teach and preach,” Black continued.
“Many times we have the rhetoric, but our actions do not back up the rhetoric.” Black is encouraged to see some of his own Senate constituents, both Republican and Democrat, engaging civilly when they participate in a weekly Senate prayer breakfast. About 25 to 30 lawmakers participate in the weekly gathering. “There are many lawmakers who are modelling civility,” Black said. “One senator said it’s very difficult to pray for one another and then go up to the chamber and verbally stab that person whose hand you’ve just been holding,” Black added.
Weekly participant Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., remarked that the prayer breakfast is one of many congressional gatherings designed to “foster civility in politics.” The prayer breakfast gives the senators an opportunity to pray together, encourage each other and share prayer requests, Lankford wrote in a tweet. “There’s rightly a need to condemn incivility, no matter where it comes from,” Lankford wrote in a tweet. “I also want you to know civility does happen in Congress.” Lankford, the co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and Democrat Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware spoke about the weekly prayer gathering at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.
“It is the one time during the week when we listen to and trust each other and see each other as creations of God, not opponents,” Coons said. Black asserts that American citizens must remember that they are called to pray for the nation’s political leaders, no matter which party is in power. Black said the problems the nation faces “require supernatural wisdom” and “divine guidance.” “We should remember 2 Chronicles 7:14, where God promises He will supernaturally bring healing to our nation, and healing means greater civility,” Black said. “Whether the branches want healing or not, God says if My folk will do those things, they will bring healing to our nation.”
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