Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

As a Christian living in 2009, it’s easy to feel like our rights as citizens are being trampled in favor of the rights of those who might be offended by our belief in God. We have been forced to quiet our prayers in order to not force someone else to listen to us petition God. We are forced to accept things like same sex marriage that we know are outside God’s plan in order to not offend someone who doesn’t share our beliefs. We are told that we need to be non-discriminatory and accept things that we consider immoral in order to make everyone feel like one big happy family. And despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans are pro-life, our government is rapidly moving towards a very staunch pro-choice attitude in order to appease a much smaller, but much louder group of people who feel that life starts when, and only if, it is convenient for the mother. And a group of Christians finally had enough.

And that’s when the Manhattan Declaration was born.

On Nov. 20th a group of Christian clergy, ministry leaders and scholars released the Manhattan Declaration, which addresses the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty.

It’s basically a Christian way of saying, “We’re not gonna take it anymore!”

Here is a summary of the Declaration from the Manhattan Declaration website. The actual document is much more in depth.

A Summary

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. In as much as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Human Life
The lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are ever more threatened. While public opinion has moved in a pro-life direction, powerful and determined forces are working to expand abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Although the protection of the weak and vulnerable is the first obligation of government, the power of government is today often enlisted in the cause of promoting what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death.” We pledge to work unceasingly for the equal protection of every innocent human being at every stage of development and in every condition. We will refuse to permit ourselves or our institutions to be implicated in the taking of human life and we will support in every possible way those who, in conscience, take the same stand.

The institution of marriage, already wounded by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is at risk of being redefined and thus subverted. Marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. Where marriage erodes, social pathologies rise. The impulse to redefine marriage is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil law as well as our religious traditions. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. Marriage is not a “social construction,” but is rather an objective reality—the covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize, honor, and protect.

Religious Liberty
Freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized. The threat to these fundamental principles of justice is evident in efforts to weaken or eliminate conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, and in antidiscrimination statutes that are used as weapons to force religious institutions, charities, businesses, and service providers either to accept (and even facilitate) activities and relationships they judge to be immoral, or go out of business. Attacks on religious liberty are dire threats not only to individuals, but also to the institutions of civil society including families, charities, and religious communities. The health and well-being of such institutions provide an indispensable buffer against the overweening power of government and is essential to the flourishing of every other institution—including government itself—on which society depends.

Unjust Laws
As Christians, we believe in law and we respect the authority of earthly rulers. We count it as a special privilege to live in a democratic society where the moral claims of the law on us are even stronger in virtue of the rights of all citizens to participate in the political process. Yet even in a democratic regime, laws can be unjust. And from the beginning, our faith has taught that civil disobedience is required in the face of gravely unjust laws or laws that purport to require us to do what is unjust or otherwise immoral. Such laws lack the power to bind in conscience because they can claim no authority beyond that of sheer human will.

Therefore, let it be known that we will not comply with any edict that compels us or the institutions we lead to participate in or facilitate abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that violates the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family.

Further, let it be known that we will not bend to any rule forcing us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality, marriage, and the family.

Further, let it be known that we will not be intimidated into silence or acquiescence or the violation of our consciences by any power on earth, be it cultural or political, regardless of the consequences to ourselves.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”

The last statement is what clinched my decision to support this document. God is the creator of life. God is the one that decides when our time on this life is over, and yet some of our elected officials seem to believe that the title of “President, “Senator,” or “Congressman” puts them on that same status level with the Almighty, and that they get a say in the decision making process. We have a government that is right now debating whether or not tax payer money will pay for abortions. How dare MY government endorse and sponsor something that will be paid for with MY money when I am opposed to abortion to the very depths of my bones.

Our government is supporting same sex marriage in an effort to appease a very small faction of citizens that demand equal rights, despite the fact that their lifestyle is against human nature. In every instance that same sex marriage issues have been brought up to the voters, as opposed to passed into law by our elected officials or judges, American citizens have voted against it. That means that our “representatives” are doing a pretty shabby job of representing what we, as citizens, want.

And our government is taking away rights of Christians in order to silence the protests of those who oppose everything we believe in. The Manhattan declaration is about standing up as Christians and saying that we’re not going to just put up with it anymore.

This is not a republican versus democrat issue. This is not a stance against gays. This is not about taking away the rights of women. This is not about being violent. It’s simply a call for Christians to stand up for what they believe in, and if necessary, be willing to suffer the consequences of voicing an unpopular opinion.

It’s a call to protect human life.
It’s a call to protect marriage.
And it’s a call to protect religious liberties.

I signed up to voice my support. How about you?

The Manhattan Declaration

1 random thoughts:

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

I didn't know about this--I'm all signed up! We need to spread the word!

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