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Standing up to violent rhetoric

March 29, 2010, 4:10 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

In the wake of last week’s historic passage of health care reform, celebration was interrupted by the contemptible reaction from opponents of the bill. It was deeply disappointing when anti-government extremists threatened Members of Congress and their families, vandalized Congressional offices, and even cut a gas line at a Representative’s brother’s home. But such violent responses weren’t entirely surprising. After all, opponents of reform — including Members of Congress — repeatedly made false and apocalyptic claims throughout the debate.

Faith leaders are stepping into this fray to call on anti-healthcare reform leaders to conduct themselves with decency and respect for people with whom they disagree. Last weekend a group of 35 Cincinnati-area clergy issued a statement calling on protesters who have targeted Rep. Steve Driehaus’s family with threats and protests to cease such uncivil tactics and observe the Golden Rule in their communication with Rep. Driehaus. The Catholic Archbishop of Cincinnati also weighed in, saying in part, “These actions are totally contrary to the teachings of Christ.”

And on Friday, more than 8,000 Faithful America members called on Representatives who stood with the Tea Party protesters to stand up to the hateful rhetoric that has come from within movement’s fringes over the past week. (It’s important to note that some Tea Party leaders have denounced the threats and vandalism too.) Hopefully we’ve seen the worst of the anti-health backlash, but if we haven’t, the faith community will continue to respond with moral leadership, calling on all Americans to treat one another with civility and respect, even in the face of profound disagreement.

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