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Joe Wilson, R-SC, shouting "You lie!" during President Obama's speech.

Joe Wilson, R-SC, shouting "You lie!" during President Obama's speech.

Shame on U. S. Congressman Joe Wilson, R-SC, for his outburst during President Obama’s address on health care to a joint session of Congress.  Multiple media channels are reporting that Joe Wilson is the person who yelled, “You lie!” during President Obama’s speech tonight.  Regardless of ideology or opinion, the President of the United States, whomever he or she may be, deserves the respect of the American people, and certainly deserves a civil reception in the halls of Congress.

The battle over ideas in this country has degenerated into a name-calling, fear-mongering contest.  There was a time in America when elected leaders debated with civility and respect, staking out their positions with compelling arguments.  But today’s political climate fosters a battle to the death with rational thought cast aside for the 30-second soundbite.  We can do better than this.  In that spirit, John McCain tonight called on Joe Wilson to apologize to the President of the United States.

As pastors and church leaders, as Christians in an increasing post-Christian culture, we have the opportunity to model respect, civility, and good citizenship for our congregation and community.  Let’s have a healthy debate on all the issues.  Let’s be firm and frank, let’s challenge each other’s  positions with facts and passion.  But, let us also make sure that in the end we emerge from any debate with our character strengthened, our insights broadened, and our heritage enriched.

Southern Baptists have been embarrassed by the likes of Wiley Drake, who brazenly bragged about praying “imprecatory prayer” that President Obama would die.  Another irrational pastor, Steven Anderson, is featured on YouTube advocating the death of the president.  This must end in America, and most certainly must end in America’s churches.  Freedom of speech and religion is predicated on responsibility, not rancor.

The sorry display of disrespect we witnessed tonight could be a turning point for us all.  Join me in condemning the actions of the Joe Wilsons of the world who had rather inflame than inform, who had rather destroy than discuss, who had rather tear-down than build up.

Paul admonished young Timothy with these words, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV

UPDATE: In an amazingly quick turn-around, and after blistering condemnation from Republicans and Democrats, Rep. Joe Wilson issued an apology to the President tonight, according to thehill.com.

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