ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud area faith leaders have released a statement asking for civility and peace as we get closer and closer to election day.

Kateri Mancini is the Director of Social Concerns for Catholic Charities. She says the group decided to craft the letter based on the amount of division they are seeing right now.

As we were having that conversation it was just apparent that all of our faith traditions really teach about peace and kindness and unity, not necessarily meaning we're all going to agree on everything, especially when it comes to politics, but that we still see one another as a unified part of our community.

The Greater St. Cloud Faith Leaders organization's letter asks us to demonstrate the values of your faith tradition and these ideals of unity and peace in the way you conduct yourself, including your political conversations, both now and after the November 3rd election.

She says often times people use their religion while making points during a political discussion.

I think it's great for community members to bring their faith perspectives into those conversations, what we're concerned about is when it's used in an angry or unkind way when it's used to create division.

The multi-faith group includes Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Jewish, Muslim and other leaders.

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Full statement: 
It is no secret that the 2020 election season has been a contentious one, not only between the candidates, but throughout our entire community. It has been a time of high emotions, strong opinions and great division among families, neighbors, and within our faith communities as well. As leaders in the many faith traditions of the greater St. Cloud area, we have each seen harsh words and actions abounding in these past months. Our fear is that these ruthless behaviors will only continue on Election Day and beyond. And so, we urge you, the members of our various faith communities and all people of good will, to seek civility and peace in the coming weeks.

Each of our faith traditions calls us to respond to the world around us, including the civic arena, out of our values. And while there are many values that our traditions share related to the issues up for debate this election season, we choose instead to use this space to speak of our common values of peace and unity.

Unity does not mean that we will all agree this election season; we may not agree on candidates or parties or even issues we prioritize. We may not agree with our neighbor’s political signs or the social media posts we see. But despite our disagreements, we must remember the unity we are all called to as neighbors and companions on this journey, as one human, national and St. Cloud family. Only in remembering this ultimate unity we share, can we seek the peace so needed in the coming weeks, weeks that will no doubt continue to be contentious and challenging regardless of the results of the November 3rd election.

We pray that, no matter what the results of the election are, our community members will work to build a community of kindness, civility, hope and peace. If there ever were a moment for us to summon the courage to do so, regardless of where we stand in this unprecedented, divisive and sometimes toxic election season, it is now.

We ask you, members of our faith communities and our neighbors, to please demonstrate the values of your faith tradition and these ideals of unity and peace in the way you conduct yourself, including your political conversations, both now and as we move beyond November 3rd. May all people of faith be an influence of peace in this divided and polarized climate, serving as role models of civility and respect as we talk to neighbors, strangers and fellow faith community members alike.

In the midst of strong opinions and the actions that sometimes accompany them at this politically-charged time, the Greater St. Cloud Faith Leaders group urges peace, respect and civility.

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