'This Week' Transcript: God and Government


SHARPTON: I think that the oppressing, depressing thing is that we must rise above our comfort zones of wherever we are based on religion, or race, or even economic standing. If - with - with all of us sitting around this table from different faiths, if those that we learned and emulate those faiths that Mohammed and Jesus and Moses set out, they wouldn't have a problem.

It's those that come in their names that have so polarized American and world society. And I think if we sought to rise to the level, the thinking, the spirituality of those that we claim to follow, we would be able to break those barriers down.


PATEL: Let me first say that some of my secular humanist friends are the kindest, warmest, best people that I know. So I don't want to leave them out. They're an important part of America. They're an important part of my life. Having said that, I think that the role religion is going to play in the 21st century is going to be one of the key issues. Faith can either be a bomb of destruction. It can be a barrier of division. Or it can be a bridge of cooperation. Our job is to make it a bridge of cooperation.

AMANPOUR: And we're going to pick that up when we return right after a break.

(Commercial Break)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back. One of the big issues right now is the state of public discourse; civic discourse in this country. We're going to continue our roundtable on this issue.

Where does religion stand in trying to bring people together, in trying to have a civil public discourse on some of the huge issues that we have to solve as a country, as a civilization? Cokie?

ROBERTS, C.: Well, one would hope that religion stands in the place of trying to make people come together on high ground. But the - the fact is is that - that there's lots of arguing and yelling and screaming and it takes place among religious people; in some cases inside churches. But I don't want to go too far on this because keep in mind this - in this country, we're not fighting with each other over religion. And that's happening in most parts of the world.

AMANPOUR: Precisely. We're not fighting necessarily over religion. But religion and faith and spirituality and scoring points for our own side comes into these political debates all the time. What can religious leaders - what can you do for instance to change the tone of debate. Everybody spoke a lot about it in January after that tragic attack on Gabrielle Giffords. And suddenly, poof - gone. What should we be doing to bring the discourse together?

LAND: Well, we should be calling people on the carpet who demonize their opponents, and who attack their motives. We don't know what people's motives are.

ROBERTS, S.: But - but part of what the clergy has to bring to the table here is more humility. I believe that the - that it is profoundly useful and important that religious inspired people join the American discourse and have a seat at the table. But when they get to the table, and they say, "I have the one true faith, and the one true way, that injects a note of rigidity and intolerance into the public discourse which can be very damaging.

And I think that one of the ways that religious leaders can contribute to civility is by being more humble about their - their sense that they have the one true word...


LAND: Well, I haven't found that - that lack of humility is something that the monopoly of religious leaders...


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