Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

Lately it has come to my attention that there are those who will not only not sign the Manhattan Declaration, but are intent on coming up with reasons why not to sign it (example: see

Not signing, of course, is their choice, but I experienced ennui and a sense of deja vu when I read this list. It reminds me all too much of the hate mail we used to receive when I worked for the Moral Majority back in the 80's. I was merely a secretary, but I opened letters from Christians who were HORRIFIED that we were joining with Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and others who stood for Judeo-Christian values. Shock! Horror! What would Jesus think?

I think Jesus was pleased, frankly, that we stood for the God-honoring values which were woven into the fabric of our nation and our constitution. In this increasingly secular society, where the things of God are openly mocked and man's intellectualism is worshiped in the place of God's sovereignty, I would be honored to stand with anyone who will support the values God ordained. You see, my relationship with God--my citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven--is my primary citizenship, yes. But in God's sovereign wisdom, he has seen fit to place me in the United States of America, so I am a citizen of that country, too. I have been placed in Florida, a state unique among the other fifty, and in a particular county, a particular town, a particular neighborhood.

The Bible encourages me to behave as a testimony to Christ in all of those roles, in my place as a citizen in my neighborhood, city, county, state, country, and yes, in this world. While I live in these places, I am to fellowship and live at peace with sinners and saints, those who agree with me and those who do not. I am to extend the love of Christ to all. (Ironically, the only people I am not to fellowship with are Christians who, among other things, slander others. 1 Corinthians 5:11).

The Manhattan Declaration's clauses are simple:

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 anti- discrimination 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.

Angie here again: The current brouhaha reminds me of a situation recorded in the gospels: 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man who was driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn’t belong to our group.” 39 “Do not try to stop him,” Jesus told them, “because no one who performs a miracle in my name will be able soon afterwards to say evil things about me. 40For whoever is not against us is for us."

I may not agree doctrinally with everyone who names the name of Christ, but I'm more than happy to let the Lord judge his own. For for those who are willing to stand with me for life, religious freedom, and Judeo-Christian values, I am deeply grateful.

Dr. Angela Hunt
You can sign in support of the declaration here:


Lynda in Mo said...

Amen, Angie! This is not about "Christian" labels - this is good citizenship 101! If we don't fight for our freedoms, the rest of it won't matter anyway.

Mocha with Linda said...

Makes me think of a Dallas Morning News article about Matt Chandler, a pastor who is having brain surgery today. There are thousands of people following his FB updates (like 26,000) and praying for him. And yet a huge number of comments on the newspaper's articles was a discussion (at times rather heated and caustic) about whether his church was Southern Baptist or not. Spare me!