What do you mean “we,” Manhattan Declaration signers?

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martyr.jpegThe Manhattan Declaration, the conservative Christian manifesto nailed (metaphorically) with great fanfare to the door of the National Press Club today, ends with this orotund pronunciamento:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with
any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in
abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and
euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule
purporting to force 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 and immorality and marriage and the
family.  We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is
Caesar’s.  But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is

Declaration’s list of signatories includes not only a bunch of
Catholic, (non-Greek) Orthodox, and Protestant prelates and
denominational bureaucrats but also “Christian leaders” who are
uneluctably lay–professors like Robby George of Princeton (who helped
write the thing), editors like David Neff of Christianity Today, activists like Gary Bauer of American Values, etc.

curious to know what rules purporting to force them as individuals to
treat, say, same-sex married couples as “marriages or their equivalent”
they intend not to bend to. What acts of disobedience to Caesar, if
any, are they contemplating? What martyrdom do they seek?

  • Jim Corl

    While I certainly respect their need to hold the values they do and live them out in the public square, they do not seem to be able to let me do the same unless my values and life agrees with theirs. I yearn for the day that real mutual respect is a community value in this land that I love.

  • USA

    It may be in part that they are making a statement about any legal right given to say Gay people which then might be used in a suit against say a church for not performing a wedding or not hiring someone. If Gay = black = discrimination as many people seem to feel then to suppose that in the not to distance future churches/religious organizations will be sued for discrimination using the laws passed to help gay people have “rights” makes sense. If you feel a gay person is in the same position that a black person was before the civil rights acts then why wouldn’t you sue a church for not hiring someone gay? So these Christian leaders are right to assume they will be sued and face court orders. I mean think about it, why shouldn’t they assume this will happen?

  • Re the question,
    what rules purporting to force them as individuals to treat, say, same-sex married couples as “marriages or their equivalent” do they not intend to bend to.
    I would say it is the attempt to pass laws which can be used to penalize speech by individuals or churches which may be defined as violating hate crime laws, as has happened or similar type of attempts of censorship, sometimes requiring costly defenses. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Nalliahhttp://homosexualityandthebible-response.blogspot.com
    As for Christians not letting others have their values, or hindering mutual respect, I would say that considering how much is opposed to Christian morality today, and traditional decency, and the momentum against it, I think that it is they which must be considered the most tolerant. And they are shown little mutual respect by those who consider themselves progressives in overturning such things as basic Biblical sexual morality.
    In addition, while the idea of mutual respect can have general support, this is a deeper issue than that idealism seems to perceive. I esteem my Muslim neighbors shared values, but I would not esteem their values if they advocated religious violence. (And if you want to kmow the difference btwn Moses and Muhammad, please ask). Even those who affirm the virtues of pluralism are prejudiced against those who hold that truth is exclusive by nature. Thus “mutual respect” has its limits.
    As for the right to belief and act with a great deal of freedom, without having to formally join religion, or pass a religious test, and to have freedoms which are not restrained by non-moral aspects such as race, then you might consider that fundamental evangelical Christians have and do support such.
    However, we are wrong if we think that,
    A. the 1st Amendment separates government from a moral belief system, which is manifested in laws;
    B. there can be no discrimination based on behavior;
    C. the 1st Amendment gives religion assures absolute freedom to practice as they may;
    D. religions cannot be involved in the political process, as equally non-religious, with each lobbying for laws which are based upon their respective moral values.
    As regards A, every legislative and educational system has laws which are based upon a moral beliefs. For example, while some hold treachery as a virtue, and advantageous for survival, most do not. Greek culture practiced institutionalized pederasty, while (thank God) the West generally does not.
    While some would exclude laws which are more uniquely based upon religious texts, that itself is not a valid reason, unless it can be demonstrated such would be to the benefit of society, while favoring moral laws which are the product of secular ideological trends can result in a officially sanctioned belief system, as in Communism. I will add here that, in contrast, the laws and principals of the Bible, as understood in its fulness, forbid the church from exercising civil powers over those without, much less using the sword of men, while its transcendent morality is proven to beneficial when practiced.
    A regards B, the foundational beliefs of the U.S. forbid certain behaviors, regardless of one’s professed inclination to do them, and homosexual relations falls into that class, not rights based upon non-moral aspects.
    As for C, the “free exercise clause” has limits, as it would not sanction religious human sacrifice for instance. Likewise, I would argue that if consensually taking part in the Lord supper typically resulted in a greatly increased incidence of infectious diseases an premature death, then the State would be moved to ban or carefully restrict it.
    As re D, the free exercise clause does not forbid religion from being involved in the political process, but assures them the same right as non-religious. And as the State itself operates out of belief system, rather than achieving a goal of separation of civil laws from ideology (in which Bible-based moral laws are usually meant), both sides are working to makes their ideology expresses what the civil “religion” believes, a manifest by its laws. And in American Democracy, all can work toward that, whether the ideology and its results be good or bad. And the evidence shows the overall trend in recent decade is predominately the latter. http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/RevealingStatistics.html