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WV Church Group Pushes for Civility in Presidential Debate

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The West Virginia Council of Churches is pushing for political debates to be more harmonious and compassionate than they have the past few years. (Adobe stock)
The West Virginia Council of Churches is pushing for political debates to be more harmonious and compassionate than they have the past few years. (Adobe stock)
 By Diane Bernard, Public News Service - WV - Producer, Contact
October 22, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.V. -- With fireworks expected at the second presidential debate tonight, a West Virginia religious group is calling for a return to civility during the election season.

The West Virginia Council of Churches is urging candidates and citizens to avoid angry political discussions and calls to violence.

Reverend Jeff Allen, executive director of the group, said we need instead to let the democratic process take place with bipartisan goodwill.

He thinks President Donald Trump's aggressive rhetoric during the campaign and at the last debate does not reflect Christian values of compassion and charity.

"It tends to dehumanize, it's divisive and it's not healthy for the body politic," Allen maintained. "I think it is important to note that much of that rhetoric precedes him and will continue to pervade our body politic unless we do something now as a nation."

A Pew Research Center survey shows more than 85% of Americans think political debate has grown more toxic in recent years.

Nearly three-quarters say elected officials should avoid using heated language because it could encourage violence.

Allen pointed out the Council issued the same call 10 years ago. But he warned it's needed even more now because he agrees political discourse in the country has become worse.

He added discussions have become more partisan without the ability to compromise or see what's human in an opponent.

"Issues have become loyalty tests from which no one can compromise," Allen lamented. "And I think how we would solve this is to encourage people to take a look at deeper values such as our common humanity and our call to love our neighbor."

Allen's group also is calling on officials to refrain from voter suppression, honor the votes cast, and proceed with a peaceful transition of government if one is called for.

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