I was all set to write a snarky post about how, if the Democrats had been meeting in Tampa this week, Republican religionists would be announcing that God was using Tropical Storm Isaac to signal His displeasure with the Party of Obama. But then I read about Cardinal Timothy Dolan's call for the national standard-bearers to sign the Knights of Columbus' Civility in America petition and I had second thoughts.
The petition has "we the undersigned citizens of the United States" respectfully requesting that "candidates, the media and other advocates and commentators involved in the public policy arena employ a more civil tone in public discourse on political and social issues, focusing on policies rather than on individual personalities." Dolan's idea is that the candidates should themselves take the pledge by signing, and I'm thinking that, as a commentator in reasonably good standing, I'm being called upon to do the same.
And I'm tempted, I really am.
But as Dolan's medieval predecessors recognized, effective moral teaching must be done verbo et exemplo--by example as well as by word. And I'm just not seeing the right examples among the nearly 20,000 signers of the petition--no advocates or commentators like Baltimore Archbishop William Lori and Catholic League President Bill Donohue and Supreme Knight of Columbus Carl Anderson and Public Intellectuals George Weigel and Robby George who have been teeing off on President Obama for mounting a War on Religion.
So here's my pledge. I will sign the damn petition when Cardinal Dolan calls on his own folks to do so, and as soon as there's evidence that they're following through. Actually, how about if His Gravitas leads the way and signs it himself? Meanwhile, isn't it time the president's faith-based team started talking about how Isaac is all about God's displeasure with the Party of Ayn Rand?