Unitarian minister preaches to end political divide

Gustafson: Treat each other with respect, decency

After last week’s Republican victory in the recall elections in Wisconsin, an associate minister at the First Unitarian Society is calling for a truce on between both sides of the aisle.

Karen Gustafson’s message is neither religious nor political. It’s one of unity, she said.

“We need to make way for a more caring and compassionate approach to one another so we can really hear into the real core of our humanity,” said Gustafson, the society’s associate minister.

Her “Summoning Our Better Angels Sermon” said the political discourse can be solved simply by kindness and listening to your neighbors.

“We have seen the ramping up of conflict,” said Gustafson, referring to the battle between during the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.

It’s a conflict that some members of her congregation said they hope to distill.

After hearing Gustafson’s sermon, Andy Davey, a member of the congregation, said he fears neighborhoods share a partisan message that might drive people of differing political views away from a community.

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“People are moving around to places where other people are like them in terms of lifestyle and often that correlates with politics,” said Davey. “You don’t have a mixing and mingling.”

While the political divide may not be mended soon, Gustafson shone some light on what she feels democracy should look like.

“We need to treat each other with respect and decency and kindness that has clearly left a lot of our political arena,” she said.

“I think the one line that really meant a lot to me was that everyone has a story and everyone has a story about why they believe the way they do,” said Davey.

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