Home Church Church should lead way on civility, Gov. Haslam says by Tom Strode

Church should lead way on civility, Gov. Haslam says by Tom Strode

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NASHVILLE (BP) — The church should be at the forefront of promoting civility in a deeply divided culture, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told Christian leaders at a Southern Baptist-sponsored event in Nashville.

“We, of all people, understand grace,” Haslam said of Christians at an Oct. 3 lunch held by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), “and we of all people understand, ‘You know, I don’t really have the right to be on a high horse yelling at you because but for God’s immeasurable grace I’d be a mess. So we should understand the need for civility.

“By the same token, we also believe in truth,” he said, adding he still hopes he can have a civil discussion with those who disagree with him. “Understanding grace, I think, changes everything about all of your relationships.”

Haslam appeared at the ERLC Leadership Lunch in the SBC Building to answer questions from the entity’s president, Russell Moore, and the audience of pastors, leaders and other Christians from Middle Tennessee.

During the governor’s appearance, Moore presented Haslam with the ERLC’s 2017 Richard Land Distinguished Service Award, which goes annually to a person displaying excellent service to God’s kingdom. The ERLC trustees unanimously approved Haslam for the award at their meeting in August.

In presenting the award, Moore pointed to Haslam’s conviction and civility. Haslam has served as a model “for people all around the country when it comes to articulating a view of human dignity” on such issues as abortion and foster care, Moore said, adding he also has spoken out on behalf of religious freedom.

“What I appreciate about our governor is he is able to do that in a way that can persuade people who are out there in the sort of persuadable middle … and has really led our state to think about the forgotten people,” Moore said.

He became a Christian when he was 16 years old during a weekend Young Life camp in the mountains of North Carolina, Haslam told the audience. It marked the first time he had heard the Gospel of Jesus clearly presented, he said. The speaker urged the young people not to fail to decide about Christ. The message stuck with him, and he accepted Christ sitting on the steps of a gym, Haslam said.

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