When State Rep. Lawrence Lockman described Lewiston mayoral candidate Ben Chin as “an anti-Christian bigot” on social media, he broke a promise.

Rep. Lockman had pledged “to refrain from personal attacks” and to “value honesty, truth and civility while striving to find workable solutions.” These were among the principles listed in the Maine Council of Churches’ Covenant For Civil Discourse that Lockman and 100 other candidates signed in 2014.

While the Council does not endorse or oppose specific candidates, we do speak out when religious attacks and untruths are used to inflame the political process. In this case, Chin is far from “anti-Christian,” or someone who hates America, Americans and Christians, as Lockman also claimed.

Chin is well-respected in the Episcopal faith. He is licensed to speak from the pulpit as a lay person, which he does occasionally at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lewiston.

Although the public expects more from their elected leaders, Lockman is not alone. Two other legislators posted anti-Muslim remarks this year and had to apologize.

As Episcopal Bishop, the Right Rev. Stephen T. Lane said, “Spirited public discourse is an important part of our civic life. Personal attacks on the character, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs are not. I call on all public officials and those seeking elected office, regardless of party or affiliation, to act in a way that reflects respect for every human being.”

Bonny Rodden, Falmouth

Board member, the Maine Council of Churches

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