By editorial board • 

Christian call for inclusion, tolerance, strikes right note for all Americans

In a politically divisive climate, intolerance from competing sides makes forging compromise and finding common ground — really the only way to accomplish things in society — increasingly difficult to manage. And when our president escalates rhetoric and raw emotion to the status of defining characteristics of the day, it adds fuel to the fire.

It’s not often we quote ourselves, but we feel a paragraph from a May editorial warrants repeating: “Whether it’s Republicans on the right or Democrats on the left, allowing the most radical elements of their political bases to compromise their principles and mute their voices is repugnant. It helps tighten the grip of raw partisanship, thus serving to thwart reasonable policy initiatives.”

When people of principle rise above the pull of radicalism to let their voices ring out — the case with a letter signed by 250 Christian scholars, detailed in a story in today’s edition — it’s worth taking note.

The letter was co-written by a Professor Mark David Hall of George Fox University, just up the road in Newberg. And it condemned the hatred and violence displayed last month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“As Christian scholars, we affirm the reality that all humans are created in the image of God and should be treated with respect and dignity,” the scholars wrote. “There is no good moral, biblical or theological reason to denigrate others on the basis of race or ethnicity, to exalt one race over others, or to countenance those who do.”

Some signers work in institutions with checkered pasts on racial matters themselves, including fundamentalist Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty University. And as Hall noted, denunciation by educators isn’t going to magically dissolve racial animosity.

But it’s a step in the right direction. And if we get enough such steps, perhaps our country and its diverse array of communities will eventually be able to emerge from this cavernous divide.

It’s going to take individual soul-searching for people to begin appreciating commonalities more than differences. It’s going to take a new intellectual framework to reshape America’s perspective on politics, policy and governance.

We must realize a single horizontal line doesn’t define the breadth of American thought. We have to recognize we fought and won the Revolutionary War long ago, so radical violence in the name of political movements no longer finds a home here. 

It’s encouraging to hear that message from a group of Christian scholars. Hopefully, it will influence other voices to join in.