By Gary Palmer
On November 20, 2009 a group of nationally known and respected Christian leaders set forth an historic declaration.
The Manhattan Declaration is a long overdue message from men and women of faith to all those in political power from state and local governments to the federal government and its myriad bureaucracies. The Declaration focuses on three foundational principles of justice and the common good on which the signers will not compromise: the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
The Declaration states, “Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense.”
Obviously, this is a direct challenge to the power of the government at every level but especially the federal government under the current dominant liberal regime. In an interview with Katherine Lopez of the National Review, Dr. Robert George, one of the principal authors of the Manhattan Declaration, said that important decisions are now being made, or soon will be made, by state and federal government on the issues addressed in the Declaration.
Dr. George said that as a result of the 2006 and 2008 elections there is unprecedented strength in both houses of Congress and in many state legislatures to push laws that advance the abortion agenda, that seek to legalize same-sex marriage, and that threaten religious liberty. In fact, some Christian groups have already come under assault.
In May 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston ended its 103 year ministry of providing adoption services to place foster children rather than comply with the Massachusetts state law that required them to place children with homosexuals. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is threatening to take action against Belmont Abbey College, a private Catholic college in North Carolina, because the college refuses to include insurance coverage for abortion and contraception in the college’s health insurance plan.
While both of these involve Catholic institutions, they could just as easily be Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or any other denomination.
Lopez later asked Dr. George how the White House should take the Declaration. He responded, “I hope that President Obama will understand that the signatories to the Manhattan Declaration are determined to defend the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage, and respect for religious freedom. On these issues, they cannot compromise, and they will not remain silent.”
The Declaration’s signatories understand that the principles of the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and religious freedom are under threat from powerful political and cultural forces in our nation. They want it understood that, as Christians, those who sign the Declaration regard these principles as non-negotiable, and will therefore be unceasing in their defense of them. A critical line of the declaration states, “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”
In explaining why he signed the Manhattan Declaration, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky wrote that he signed it “…because I want to put my name on its final pledge — that we will not bend the knee to Caesar. We will not participate in any subversion of life. We will not be forced to accept any other relationship as equal in status or rights to heterosexual marriage. We will not refrain from proclaiming the truth — and we will order our churches and institutions and ministries by Christian conviction.”
Dr. Mohler was referring to the last lines of the Declaration that should be regarded as a solemn oath by all who sign it, “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.” Mohler then added, “I was encouraged that we could stand together to make clear that to come for one of us on these issues is to come for all.”
The opportunity to stand with other believers of such courage and moral clarity is why I signed the Declaration.
You can read the Manhattan Declaration at www.manhattandeclaration.org.
Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.