By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
An ecumenical group of clergy and scholars concerned about government policies that undermine the sanctity of human life, redefine the institution of marriage and encroach upon religious liberties in the United States, are releasing a statement today informing civil authorities that the signers will not “under any circumstance” abandon their Christian consciences.
According to a report by the Catholic News Agency, the 4,700 word document known as the “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience” will be released at noon today at the National Press Club in Washington DC.
Written by prominent Christians such as Robert P. George of Princeton University, Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, and renowned Evangelical leader Charles Colson, more than a dozen U.S. Cardinals and Bishops are among its signatories, as well as influential Protestant leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, Founder of Focus on the Family, the Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Primate of the Anglican Church in North America and Dr. Richard Land, President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. 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,” the statement says.
Even though the signatories recognize their duty to comply with laws whether they like them or not, they make it clear that “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 marriage or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”
The Coalition crafted the document after several months of dialogue between Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders. They have decided to make their statement now in order to “defend principles of justice and the common good that are now under assault.”
“What they’re trying to do with this [“Manhattan Declaration”] is light a fire,” said Archbishop John Nienstedt of Minneapolis-St. Paul to The Catholic Spirit. “Hopefully that fire will catch on and touch the troops in the rank and file.”
The Archbishop said the country is in a crisis, particularly in regards to the institution of marriage which is being attacked on several fronts. Not only are divorce and cohabitation rates soaring, but the number of children under the age of 18 living with a single parent rose from six million in 1960 to 19 million in 2000.
“In addition, there is a small, but well-financed advocacy group pushing for the redefinition of marriage in our society,” the Archbishop said. “It’s not just a question that church leaders are concerned about. It’s a question that I think anyone who takes a look at the future of our country has to be concerned about.”
The Manhattan Declaration recognizes these trends and the many public policies that are contributing to the weakening of the institution of marriage.
It also addresses the fact that even though public sentiment has moved in a pro-life direction, a pro-abortion ideology still prevails in many places of power and influence and the government is now promoting and funding research “in which the lives of tiny human beings in the early embryonic states of development are treated as disposable research material.”
The full document will be made available after the press conference today at: http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/
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