‘Return to Civility’ Organizer Foster Friess Has Coffee With Controversial Mo. Senator
"I am just so taken with who she is as a person."
Forgiveness is “powerful,” philanthropist Foster Friess said Monday on The Mike Gallagher Show.
In late August, Friess urged people to “Return to Civility” by asking someone out for coffee. Specifically, someone they disagreed with. The conservative activist even offered to personally reimburse the first 1,000 participants up to $25.
Friess didn’t make any exceptions for himself. In fact, he made news when he invited a controversial politician for coffee: Maria Chappelle Nadal.
The Missouri state senator made waves recently for posting on her personal Facebook page that “I hope Trump is assassinated.”
Visiting Nadal, Friess, a Trump supporter, said he wanted to express his personal forgiveness for her comment. But he also wanted to “honor” her for having “the courage to realize” her mistake.
Forgiveness and Coffee
Nadal’s Facebook comment came shortly after the infamous Charlottesville, Va. rally that involved clashes between white supremacists, neo-Nazis, KKK members and Antifa counter protesters. Even though the comment was quickly deleted, it gained immediate attention. It was enough for both Republicans and Democrats to call for Nadals’ resignation.
The state senator apologized for her comment and also refused to resign.
On Sunday, August 27, Friess flew to Missouri, attended church with Nadal and went out for coffee afterward. Local reporters followed the contrasting duo — who reportedly had a great time.
“While she’s a black Democrat and I’m a white Republican, I love this woman,” Friess told ABC St. Louis. The two laughed. “I am just so taken with who she is as a person.”
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Nadal said she is currently asking her colleagues for forgiveness for her Facebook comment. In an interview with ABC St. Louis, she recalled a time former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. told her “you can’t have a testimony without a test.”
“This is one of my tests,” she said. “And so I want to encourage as many people as possible to learn from my example, learn from my mistake, and don’t make it.”
She also shared Friess’ goal to change the current tone of political discourse. “While we have differences, we support civility,” she tweeted, captioning a selfie of herself and Friess.
Today I met @FosterFriess to discuss trauma, Ferguson, education equity, single moms & faith. While we have differences, we support civility pic.twitter.com/bVvVZtq1cU
— MariaChappelleNadal (@MariaChappelleN) August 27, 2017
“We Don’t Talk to Our Neighbors”
Nadal bemoaned the fact that “we don’t talk to our neighbors who may be different … We should be loving each other and trying to figure out how to respect our differences.”
Friess believes the modern perception of division in the U.S. trickles down from “the kingdom of D.C. inhabitants.” He added that events like the Charlottesville rally are blown out of proportion, while “95 percent of Americans are loving one another.”
However, recent studies show that the political division may be more prominent even outside of what Friess calls the “kingdom of D.C.” According to the Pew Research Center, most Democrats and Republicans give members of the other party a “very unfavorable” rating, the New York Times reported in June. The Weekly Standard reported in June that only 9 percent of Democrats think Republicans are moral, according to Pew. Only 3 percent of Republicans think the same of Democrats.
Friess believes getting to know people you disagree with is key.
“When you get to get to know someone on a personal basis, it’s very hard to be angry and mean,” he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson ahead of his coffee date with Nadal. “And we have to be more careful about throwing this word ‘hate’ around. Let love trump hate, so to speak.”