News Release: Election-Related Civilize It Advertising Launches in Michigan

TV Ads Encourage Residents, Catholics to Pledge Civility, Clarity, and Compassion

September 16, 2020

(Lansing, Mich.) — As the level of civility and respect for others with differing opinions has diminished with each passing political campaign season, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) has undertaken an advertising effort encouraging Catholics and residents of the state to pledge civility, clarity, and compassion when discussing and debating candidates and politics. To promote the effort, a one-minute television commercial featuring a diverse range of Catholics taking the Civilize It pledge has been produced and will begin to run today in various television markets across Michigan.

“It has become all-too-normal to hear family, friends, and colleagues speak with fatigue and frustration about elections and how candidates and citizens speak about and to one another. It is our hope with this effort that an element of civility and respect for others will begin to return to our collective political dialogue,” said MCC Vice President for Communications David Maluchnik.

Anticipating the divisiveness of this year’s presidential election, MCC was intrigued by the Civilize It campaign promoted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Originating in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate effort encourages Catholics and all people of goodwill to re-orient their political conversations with others. It places an emphasis on listening to those with whom we may disagree, respecting their dignity as human persons, and rising above personal attacks. To promote the effort, MCC has purchased advertising time this September in various television markets across the state to share a one-minute ad. Viewers and others with interest are encouraged to visit to take the brief pledge for themselves.

“I had the feeling that by taking this pledge it would improve my own dialogue and provide an example for others hopefully to follow,” said Chris Pham, who resides in the Saginaw area and participated in the video. “By joining this effort and helping to share our message across the state, it’s my hope that perhaps those running for office and others discussing the election will also participate.”

Filmed by individuals recording from their smartphones, the video pieces together various participants reciting the pledge and assembles the parts into a cohesive string of persons committed to the values of civility, clarity, and compassion. The ad demonstrates the inclusiveness and international dimension of the Catholic Church. The underlying message is that regardless of one’s gender or racial demographic, every human person is deserving of respect and dignity when discussing contentious issues such as political candidates, parties, and policies.

The television ad buy begins today September 16th and runs through the month. MCC will continue to work with its ad buyer to find additional opportunities should time become available during an expensive advertising season with limited inventory. Along with the commercial that is running on television, Michigan Catholic Conference has assembled a similar video of six of the Catholic bishops in Michigan taking the Civilize It pledge along with a Spanish-language version. A social media effort that includes these three videos will accompany the television advertising.

Editor’s Note: Below is the full text of the Civilize It pledge:

I pledge civility.

To recognize the human dignity of those with whom I disagree, treat others with respect, and rise above attacks when directed at me.

I pledge clarity.

To root my political viewpoints in the Gospel and a well-formed conscience, which involves prayer, conversation, study and listening. I will stand up for my convictions and speak out when I witness language that disparages others’ dignity, while also listening and seeking to understand others’ experiences.

I pledge compassion.

To encounter others with a tone and posture which affirms that I honor the dignity of others and invites others to do the same. I will presume others’ best intentions and listen to their stories with empathy. I will strive to understand before seeking to be understood.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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