Pray for our leadership

Published 9:15pm Friday, January 13, 2012

I’d actually forgotten that the assassination attempt on Arizona 8th District congressman Gabrielle Giffords took place in Tucson, but I was in the city last week for a conference and the newspapers were filled with stories about the upcoming first anniversary on Jan. 8. Six died in the attack and 12 others were wounded. It was inspiring to see Giffords attend the memorial service and lead attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. She’s a hero after suffering a head wound and making remarkable improvement.

The attack last year brought about new calls for civility in America. Surely there’s nothing wrong with increased attention to civility, but some organizations took this to an extreme, in my opinion.

I remember seeing one cable newsperson correct a guest for using the word “target” in his analysis of a political situation, claiming that the network was trying to abolish “incendiary” language. Last week I went to a department store named “Target” and they seem to be in no rush to change its name!

Our American system is the envy of the world because the very first constitutional amendment guarantees freedom of the press, freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble.

We have no one American party or political system sanctioned by the government, so we’re all free to speak our opinion and to vote for whomever we choose. Vigorous political debate is our national birthright. It keeps our populace informed and helps us make better political decisions. What we must avoid in political discourse is character assassination. This is sometimes called “ad hominem” attacks–Latin for “against the man.” Political debate must focus on issues, not on personalities. After all, we’re not God and we cannot know the hearts of others. What we can react to is their words and deeds.

We must remember we’re all Americans, no matter our political persuasion or ethnicity. As one song proclaims, “the only colors in America are red, white and blue.”

Furthermore, all Americans deplore violence. The acts of depraved assassins should never be used to castigate political groups who have nothing to do with such violence. John Hinckley who shot President Reagan was trying to impress Jodie Foster, but no one blames Hollywood for the attack on Reagan. We recognize that Hinckley was a sick man who made an unfortunate choice.  Another distinctive in civility is that Christians are exhorted to pray for elected officials according to 1 Timothy 2. Paul doesn’t say to pray for those we voted for or only those “on our side,” but for all those in authority over us. The followers of Christ must not ignore this basic precept of scripture.

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