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WASHINGTON (RNS) In the final weeks of the presidential campaign, two top U.S. faith leaders are urging a return to civility between Sen.
Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.
The political discourse has shifted from important issues facing the country to “acrimonious, disrespectful and divisive rhetoric,” according to Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops.
Palmer and the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, sent open statements to McCain and Obama urging a “focus on the critical challenges that threaten the future of our nation and the world.”
A recent New York Times/CBS News poll revealed that the latest McCain campaign ads, featuring sharp personal attacks on Obama, have actually hurt McCain’s public standing. The rhetoric of political campaigns is often based on “divisiveness, hyperbole, half-truths and innuendo,” Kinnamon said.
“We 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,” Palmer said.
In his statement, Kinnamon expressed concern that the U.S. leaders govern “by surrounding themselves with an isolating barrier of like-minded cronies.” Open dialogue is only possible if candidates are willing to “expand the circle of internal discussion,” he added.
“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 for our common problems,” Palmer said.
By Ashley Gipson
Religion News Services
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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