Catholic, Evangelical leaders join in call to public action
November 20, 2009
A group of 150 prominent American Christian leaders have joined in a call for more energetic public defense of marriage and the family, human life, and religious freedom.
In the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience," a ringing 4,700-word defense of Christian public witness, the signatories-- mostly Catholic and Evangelical leaders-- vow to resist immoral public policies, opposing the spread of the "culture of death," and pledge that "no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”
The major moral concerns of the statement are expressed in an early paragraph:
While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.
The Manhattan Declaration recalls the Christian tradition of public defense for human dignity, noting that Wesley and Wilberforce led the struggle to end slavery in England. The document then condemns the acceptance of abortion, and the policies of a White House "led and staffed by those who want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and who want to provide abortions at taxpayer expense." The Church leaders promise: "We will be united and untiring in our efforts to roll back the license to kill that began with the abandonment of the unborn to abortion."
The statement laments that "Christians and our institutions have too often scandalously failed to uphold the institution of marriage." The signatories announce their commitment to defend the family based on marriage, and to oppose policies that treat other arrangements-- including cohabitation and same-sex unions-- as equivalent to marriage.
The Church leaders also warn that public acceptance of immoral behavior raise significant concerns about the future of religious freedom. Insisting that believers retain the right to resist policies that violate their consciences, the Manhattan Declaration signers conclude: "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 Manhattan Declaration is signed by 14 Catholic bishops, including Cardinals Adam Maida of Detroit and Justin Rigali of Philadelphia; and Archbishops Timothy Dolan of New York, Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, Charles Chaput of Denver, John Myers of Newark, and John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis. The Evangelical signers include: Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family; Chuck Colson; J.I. Packer; Marvin Olasky, the editor of World magazine; Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocatoin of Anglicans of North America; Josh McDowell; Rev. Jonathan Falwell; and Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council.
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- Christian leaders issue 'call of conscience' (AP)
- Christian Leaders Unite on Political Issues (New York Times)
- Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience
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