Posts Tagged rhetoric

Political Talk: Temper Your Words, Open Your Heart –

Political Talk: Temper Your Words, Open Your Heart

Mitch Carnell
Friday, October 7, 2016 6:53 am
Section:’s Latest Articles

President Obama struck the right note when speaking about the police shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“We need to temper our words and open our hearts,” he said following the mid-July killing of three officers.

Words are powerful. They have the power to build up or tear down, calm people down or stir them up.

Arthur Caliandro, the late senior pastor at Marble Collegiate Church, once asserted, “You can never know that your words will be received the way you intended because you do not know what that person has gone through.”

Most people are able to hear hot political speech and let it roll off them, but a few internalize those words – and those words take over that person’s thoughts and actions.

Hate speech is dangerous. You do not know the listener’s state of mind.

The rhetoric in the current presidential campaign is already at a fever pitch with, I fear, much worse to come.

In today’s unsettled political climate, we all need to take a step back, take a deep breath and moderate our speech and behavior.

The president has shown exemplary restraint in responding to his critics. He has the right demeanor that is needed in these times. He has pleaded for calm and civil speech.

Some see this behavior as weakness, but, in reality, such restraint demands enormous strength. Self-control and self-restraint are hallmarks of a Christian communicator.

Parents should discuss these matters with their children and explain to them the power of words.

The wounds inflicted with sticks and stones will heal, but those inflicted with words may never heal and will continue to fester.

Harsh, unkind, hateful words spoken by those who are significant in a person’s life may have an impact that will scar that life forever.

There is a gigantic role for churches to play under these circumstances. They can promote small discussion groups and hold seminars. They can teach people how to conduct themselves in threatening situations.

Here is an opportunity for churches to become more relevant to modern life. Unfortunately, too many churches have elected to become part of the problem.

They use their powerful voices to arouse discontent and sow seeds of disharmony.

The Bible is filled with sound advice on how Christians are to respond to hostile or threatening behavior. People of good will can find solutions even in the face of overwhelming odds.

It is hard to listen to one another when so many of us are so far apart in our thinking, but we can do it. We must do it for the sake of our society.

We must continually ask ourselves: Do our words accurately reflect our claim to be Christian?

Christian civility must become more than a slogan. It must become the way we operate on a daily basis. As Christians, we must communicate in such a way as to reflect the teachings of Jesus.

Christian communication doesn’t mean surrendering our beliefs. It does require us to treat the other with the same respect we demand for ourselves no matter how much we disagree with his or her position.

In fact, the more deeply we disagree with another’s position, the more careful we need to be in fashioning our response.

There are times when the best response is to acknowledge that our disagreements are so profound that we simply agree to disagree and end the conversation.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant specializing in effective communication. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” He and his wife, Carol, are members of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He blogs at MitchCarnell.comand

Christian communication doesn’t mean surrendering our beliefs. It does require us to treat the other with the same respect we demand for ourselves no matter how much we disagree with his or her position.

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Letter and Pledge to Presidential Candidates

The following letter and pledges were sent to each of the presidential candidates by name and asked to respond by May 20.

June 1, 2016 is the eleventh annual Say Something Nice Day and June 5, 2016 is the tenth annual Say Something Nice Sunday. Our ecumenical committee is asking each presidential candidate to take our Civility Pledge for either one or both of those days. This is a wonderful opportunity to shine a bright light on the importance of civil discourse in America.

Our movement is supported by both democrats and republicans. We also have the support of the major religious denominations including but not limited to Baptists, Catholics, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodists, and Presbyterians. We are also reaching out to the Jewish community.

Please sign either one and or both the enclosed pledges and return them to me by May 20, 2016.

We will release the names of those candidates who have taken one or both of our pledges prior to June 1. If it is possible please give our movement a mention in one of your speeches.

Thank you for your love for the United States and your willingness to run for the highest office in the land. It is a daunting task.

Sincerely,Mitch Carnell, Chair Say Something Nice Sunday Committee

Civility Challenges for Presidential Candidates

Civility Challenge One:

I pledge that on June 1, 2016 and or June 5, 2016, I will refrain from saying anything ugly, demeaning or derogatory to or about anyone especially any of the other candidates running for the presidency of the United States.

Signed: ____________________________________ Date: __________________

Civility Challenge Two:

I pledge that on June 1, 2016 and/or June 5, 2016, I will say something nice, uplifting or encouraging to or about at least one person running for the presidency of the United States. I understand that remarks related to physical characteristics are off limits for this exercise.

Signed: ____________________________________ Date_____________________

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Inspired by an Idea. Help Us Make a Difference

Lifter CvrAlmost ten years ago, I was inspired with the idea that we could turn down the hostile rhetoric among Christian denominations and other Christian groups if we could work together and that we could encourage more Christ-like speech. It is astounding what can happen if God inspires the vision. The 10th. Anniversary of this movement is June 05, 2016.

My idea found fertile soil with the Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of Charleston’s historic First Baptist Church.  He enthusiastically embraced the possibilities. The congregation was quick to pass a resolution designating the first Sunday in June each year as Say Something Nice Sunday. The Charleston County Baptist Baptists Association unanimously endorsed the idea.

We found a great and supportive ally in the Charleston/Atlantic Presbytery. The South Carolina Baptists Convention adopted a resolution supportive of the idea, “Unity in the Body.” The South Carolina Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joined the movement. We formed an ecumenical committee which brought in many churches including: Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodists.

Cardinal Dolan of New York endorsed the movement, as did Bishop Guglielmone of the Catholic Diocese of Charleston representing all of South Carolina. We received coverage in the Baptists Times of the UK. In 2014, Bishop Stacy Sauls, COO of the National Episcopal Church wrote an outstanding endorsement of the movement in his weekly blog. The Baptist World Alliance agreed to help promote the event.

National syndicated columnist, Norris Burkes (The Chaplain) dedicated one of his columns to the topic.

In 2009 eight leaders from different denomination contributed to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. All endorsed the movement. Dr. Richard Mouw’s book, Uncommon Decency, was a great inspiration and he contributed a chapter to the new work. Since then I have conducted several Brown Bag Lunch discussion at Baptist House at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State thanks to the generous support of Bud and Pat Brown, managers.

Many pastors have taken the opportunity to deliver sermons on the topic of Christ-like Speech and Its Influence. The Rev. Andrew Shull, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodruff, SC, dedicated a week to the topic.

We are looking for enthusiastic supporters who will promote the movement in their own churches and religious organizations. There is nothing to buy. Free materials are available at Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the page. Scroll down to Say Something Nice Sunday. You will find art work, devotional, Bible Verses, and “Why Have a Say Something Nice Sunday?” You are also encouraged to contribute ideas.

You will find it exciting to be a part of a movement that is making a difference where all that is required is a kind word, a friendly welcome or Christian hospitality. Jesus said, “In-so-much as you do it unto the least of these, you do it also unto me.”


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Celebrate Say Something Nice Sunday – June 2, 2013


Sunday, June 2, 2013, will be different from all the Sundays that preceded it.  It will be a friendlier, more cheerful and more affirming day. Gone will be the rancor and demeaning verbiage. Across the nation churches will celebrate the Seventh Annual Say Something Nice Sunday. As bullying has escalated in all walks of life including some churches, the imperative to be more Christ-like in our speech takes on even greater significance.

The congregation of First Baptist Church Charleston, the oldest Baptist Congregation in the South, passed a resolution calling for at least one day when Christians would not say anything derogatory toward any other Christian or Christian body, but instead would say only nice things. The Charleston Baptist Association passed the same resolution. The Charleston Atlantic Presbytery joined as did CBF of South Carolina. The first Say Something Nice Sunday was celebrated by churches in Charleston County and a scattering of churches throughout the state. The second year more churches joined across the nation. In 2009 the Catholic Diocese of Charleston joined.

In 2007 the South Carolina Baptist Convention passed a resolution,”Unity in the Body” which supports the idea. The movement received support from Dr. Frank Page, then president of the SBC, and Jim Austin, the SC Baptist executive. In 2011, the Catholic Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan endorsed the program. Archbishop Dolan is now Cardinal Dolan. Furman University and Spartanburg Methodist College support the celebration. Dr. Molly Marshall, president of Central Baptist Seminary, Dr. Timothy George, president of Samford Divinity School and Dr. Loren Mead, retired Episcopal priest and founder of the Alban Institute, volunteered support.

The Rev. Marshall Blalock, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charleston, is enthusiastic in his support of the movement. “Our words express what is in our hearts,” he states. The Rev. Andrew Shull, pastor of FBC Woodruff, SC did a week long emphasis.

Every church and religious group are invited to participate. There are no fees and nothing to buy. Resource materials are on the First Baptist Church web page at Click on messages/resources at the top of the page and then click on the title under Say Something Nice Sunday.  Churches are encouraged to develop other materials and to share them by E-mailing them to

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