August 23, 2013
Friday Five Interview: Mark DeMoss
Are Christians contributing to a more civil public square? One Christian leader says no.
For today's entry in the Friday Five interview series, we chat with Mark DeMoss. Mark is president and founder of The DeMoss Group, a high-profile public relations firm that advises Christian organizations such as the Billy Graham Association, Prison Fellowship, and The American Bible Society. Mark served as an unpaid advisor to the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012. He is the author of The Little Red Book of Wisdom.
Today we talk with Mark DeMoss about Christians and civil discourse, the future of the evangelical movement, and the lessons he learned from his father.
In 2009 you launched The Civility Project, calling for greater respect and civility in the public square. After 2 years you shut it down, citing lack of participation. What did this exercise tell you about the state of the discourse in our country?
The state of civil discourse in our country is, in my view, not good. In fact, it is generally terrible. This is not only a problem on the left or among secularists; it is a problem on the right (sometimes worse so) and among people calling themselves followers of Christ.
Some equate incivility with courage, as if to be civil is to surrender core convictions. But you disagree. Can you explain?
I have never, to my knowledge, sacrificed conviction on the altar of civility. These are not mutually exclusive. I can challenge or disagree with you without being rude, ugly, mean-spirited or uncivil.
Should pastors and church leaders make the teaching of civility a priority?
Yes! There are plenty of Scriptures to support that answer. For example, "In lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself." (Phil. 2:3) "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." (Col. 4:5) And then, "Let all that you do be done in love." (1 Cor. 16:14) I strongly believe it is never an option for me to claim Jesus Christ as Savior and behave in an uncivil manner with anyone, under any circumstance. Never.
You've represented evangelicals for many years. What is one thing that gives you hope about the evangelical movement today and what is one thing that gives you pause?
I have hope when I see so many people hungry for teaching from God's Word. In January I watched 60,000 college students (primarily) worship for four days in Atlanta's Georgia Dome during Passion 2013. It filled me with hope. On the other hand, I am concerned that we appear to have lost the battle on a number of issues clearly addresses in the Bible and evangelicals are among those abandoning some of these issues because of the unpopularity of addressing them publicly.
In 2011, you released a book, Little Red Book of Wisdom. In there you shared practical bits of advice, many of which came from your father, Arthur DeMoss. What is the most important piece of wisdom your dad passed down to you?
Spending the first part of every day with the Lord, alone. Part of that practice included reading a chapter of Proverbs every day, a practice that will take you throughout the book of Proverbs every month. I estimate I have read the book of Proverbs some 300 times now. It is the greatest wisdom textbook ever written.