Christian Refuses to Sign Civility Contract… Guess Why? April 16, 2010

Christian Refuses to Sign Civility Contract… Guess Why?

We know Christians are divided. There are a lot of Christians who probably agree more with secular values (like separation of church and state) than they do fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

Jim Wallis and the folks at the group Sojourners recently released a “Covenant for Civility” that calls for all Christians to come together despite their differences:

As Christian pastors and leaders with diverse theological and political beliefs, we have come together to make this covenant with each other, and to commend it to the church, faith-based organizations, and individuals, so that together we can contribute to a more civil national discourse. The church in the United States can offer a message of hope and reconciliation to a nation that is deeply divided by political and cultural differences…

In short, it asks Christian leaders to treat each other with respect (even when they disagree), pray for each other (even when they disagree), and be mindful of the language they use when talking about other Christians (even when they disagree).

George O. Wood, the leader of the Assemblies of God denomination, signed the covenant.

But now he wants out. His reasoning is incredible:

“The problem is [that] the tent… has grown so large on the signatures of this that [it is] including people who are supportive of gay marriage and abortion rights.”

To summarize: Wood will sign a statement saying he will treat Christians who disagree with him with civility… unless they disagree with him, in which case, fuck ’em.

(Thanks to Jason for the link!)

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  • Myrdek

    and this is exactly why us evil atheists are winning 🙂

    I know a lot of atheists often feel overwhelmed by the christian majority but the truth is that we outnumber every single religious group in the world. They don’t/can’t get along with each other and they never will. Even if they were to gang up to crush us they would inevitably turn on each other at the first opportunity.

    Like it or not, religious people need us

  • Brian E

    What would Jesus do? I’m sure he’d sign it if the pen didn’t slip through the hole in his hand. 🙂

  • Jonas

    Yeah, I’m reading through both articles. Trying to decipher his thoughts.– Did he get the document early, before non-evangelicals signed it?

    Was he thinking all evangelicals adhere to certain Moral Absolutes from the Bible? — (i.e. pro-life)

    In reading the civility contract, I did not see anything indicating only evangelicals were meant to be included, but it was clearly Christian. — No need to Pray for an atheist :), and it seemed about Christians working with Christians.

  • DSimon

    I can almost understand why a pro-lifer would have a problem signing a contract for civility with pro-choicers; to them, it would be like signing a contract to be civil to child murderers.

    Of course, plug in the fact that an embryo is not a person in any meaningful way, and their position ceases to be reasonable. But, it’s still empathizable.

  • How ridiculous…but completely unsurprising.

  • See, that’s why you should understand what it is that your signing up for. if you don’t it’ll come back and bite you on the arse.

  • The last I checked the red-letter passages in my new-testament, I didn’t see anything about abortion or homosexuality. Hmmm…

    It seems that George O. Wood is therefore putting his own opinions before (and higher than) the words of Jesus.

    But maybe the Holy Spirit told him that Jesus was really a homophobe who wants to lock abortion providers up.

  • Huh! A hypocritical christian leader? Well colour me surprised!

    PS Brian E: you owe me a new laptop as mine is now covered in coffee from laughing at your post.

  • Killer Bee

    Divinity of Christ
    The work of atonement
    The nature of the Trinity
    The necessity of baptism for salvation
    Inerrancy of scripture

    All the above are central questions to the theology of Christianity and have the potential to relegate a person or group to the status of heretics, outside the fold. I bet each one is disputed by co-signatories.

    Abortion isn’t mentioned in the Bible directly. Gays definitely are and are condemned in the strongest language in both the Old and New Testaments.

    My guess is that he sees the acceptance of gays as the rejection of the inerrancy of the Bible which means that this convenant “yokes” believers with unbelievers.

    I, personally, would never agree to anything like this for any reason. Civility is great, as far as it goes, but mockery, foul language, and eloquent denunciation are the art of great polemics.

  • Notice that the “Covenant for Civility” only applies to Christians. Wallis likes to play the good cop Christian, but the fact is that he still is against gay marriage and still is extremely anti-atheist.

  • Richard Wade

    Looks like Mr. Wood doesn’t honor his written agreements. His flock should keep that in mind. The contract was about civility, not agreement. Careful George, don’t give up your god given right to hate.

  • @Staks — I guess it depends who you’re talking to about Wallis’s stand on gay marriage. My understanding is that he’s in favor of civil equality for the LGBT community. For many evangelicals, that’s enough to make him fully pro-gay.

    As for the article, I find it to be one of the most entertaining moments of irony I’ve seen in a while. Well done Rev. Wood.

  • plutosdad

    it would be like signing a contract to be civil to child murderers

    Like that darn Jesus hanging out with and being civil to all the sinners.

    I am firmly convinced the average Christian today would not think Jesus is a “real christian” if they met him.

  • muggle

    I’m kind of glad he spoke up. This puts the lie to the Christians who don’t oppose the religious reich because they think it poses no threat to them. So many are apathetic because they think if they’re Christian, they’re safe.

    Note, it not only excludes Athiests but anyone not Christian: Jews, Bhuddists, Hindus, Wiccans, etc., etc., etc.

  • idioteque

    I really wonder if extraterrestrials came to earth, what would they think of religion? For example, if we were to ask them after a month’s stay on earth, “What is Christianity?” they might say something like “A sexual ideology.” And for those Christians who don’t have a problem with homosexuality, “Their sexual ideology is unorthodox” –from their standpoint, they might not even see a “god” as the common ground! –it would be all about sex!

    I’m only half-joking…

  • @Alise – Wallis talks about his opposition to gay marriage and atheists in his book “God’s Politics.” He does support civil unions I think.

  • Erp

    Looking over the contract, I think it was intended to make bridges within the Christian community. Start small and with a group that supposedly has a common foundation, Jesus. Note in particular item 2 supports civility to all humans, not just Christians.

    We believe that each of us, and our fellow human beings, are created in the image of God. The respect we owe to God should be reflected in the honor and respect we show to each other in our common humanity, particularly in how we speak to each other. “With the tongue we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God …. this ought not to be so” (James 3:9, 10).

    Wallis may have more inclusive ideas but if he can’t even get most Christians on board….

    I guess on the more liberal side we have Eboo Patel and the Interfaith Youth Corp. (Wallis is also involved a bit with that.)

  • fritzy

    I’ve often believed that ecumenicalism is a joke. This story certainly lends support to my hypothesis. Hell–even different sects of the same religion can’t agree (and often, in the worst case scenario, kill each other over their differences.)

    Ecumencialism is mostly practiced amongst the moderates and liberals of each religion–Those who also happen to be the least vocal. While their intent is good, it appears to be more of a humanistic venture, contrary to the basic concepts of a dualistic faith. The getting along despite your beliefs would be such a good idea, if it weren’t for the fact that those beliefs are based on faith in pre-enlightenment, pro-tribal pseudo-history–claims that cannot be proven and therefore cannot be open to honest discussion or compromise.

    Lets face it; most of the major existing religions are dualistic. How can you agree, or even agree to disagree when your holy book tells you that those who believe differently are wrong–and wrong in this case equals hell-bound? Ecumenicallism isn’t about using one’s faith to get along with others who are different than you–it’s getting along in spite of the woo. In other words, ecumenicallism would work so much better without the religion. Which is why people of faith who also happen to be people of conscience see the need for ecumenciallism. Which in turn is why more people are seeing the folly of faith.

    I’d really like to be shocked by this story, but hey, by now we all know better, right?

  • Carlie

    Gays definitely are and are condemned in the strongest language in both the Old and New Testaments.

    Actually, in language equal in strength to not wearing mixed-fiber fabrics, not cutting one’s beard off, and not sowing different kinds of seed in the same farm plot, and in language weaker than the condemnation for eating shellfish. Just to clarify.

  • muggle

    Yeah, and actually, Carlie, that only makes me wonder why they make such a stink about the gay thing and the 10 commandments and honoring even abusive asshole parents and ignore the rest of those rules. If they’re going to obey the Big 10 and hate on gays, they should be just as fanatically following the rest of the nonsense. Children who sass their parents and adulterers should be put to sleep. Before you protest, there are some very scary groups proposing to turn the US into just such a theocracy.

  • Dean

    Either you have your principals or you don’t. Apparently the author (and many in this post) have their own, but eschew this choice for others. I wouldn’t call that friendly at all. I would also suggest that some of you look up the definition of hypocritical, I’m not sure you know what it means. Imagine, if you will, signing up to membership of a pro-atheist group and then finding out they were going to start every meeting with a prayer. Would you retain your membership in the group? Would leaving the group make you hypocritical? Use logic, it leads to better arguments.

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