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Palmer urges U.S. candidates to stop the rhetoric

Oct. 14, 2008 | SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (UMNS)

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer

The president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops has called for an end to "divisive and demeaning rhetoric" in the U.S. presidential race and urged the candidates instead to "honor the principles of fairness and accuracy" in their debates, advertisements and speeches.

"Public discourse, especially in this season of presidential elections, has often deteriorated into acrimonious, disrespectful and divisive rhetoric," Bishop Gregory V. Palmer wrote in an Oct. 14 pastoral letter to the candidates and the church.

"Such speech, in the interest of short-term political gain, will make it more difficult for the nation to unite to work together on the great challenges that face the United States and the world today."

Palmer urged the candidates and campaigns "to focus on the critical challenges that threaten the future of our nation and the world: poverty, war, racism, inequality of opportunity, the current financial crises, and terrorism in all its forms."

The letter was sent one day before Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama were scheduled to hold their third and final debate of the campaign on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The letter also was being e-mailed to the two U.S. senators' presidential campaigns, according to a spokeswoman for the Council of Bishops.

"It is my fervent prayer that whoever is elected … will, through positive words and deeds that transcend party and perspective, help lead our nation and world into a more hopeful future."
–Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
"I believe that people of faith are called to speak out on these vital issues and to make sure that campaigns focus on what is vitally important to the American people and the world," Palmer said in an accompanying news release. "The people need to challenge the candidates to stop the insults. They don’t improve our electoral process."

 Palmer urged United Methodists and people of all faiths to pray daily for all candidates, voters and U.S. leaders and to urge local religious leaders and groups to circulate similar calls in their communities.

"It is my fervent prayer that whoever is elected the next President of the United States will receive respect and loyalty from all and will, through positive words and deeds that transcend party and perspective, help lead our nation and world into a more hopeful future," Palmer wrote in his letter.

The Council of Bishops is the top clergy body in the The United Methodist Church, which has more than 7.9 million members in the United States. Palmer, who oversees the church's Illinois Great Rivers Annual (regional) Conference, began his one-year term as president in May.

*This story was based on a news release from the Council of Bishops.

News media contact: Marta Aldrich, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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