By Jueseppi B.
When religious organization & religious leaders step out from their religious arena into the world of politics and setting political policies, they forfeit any and all rights to remain a tax exempt organization. When religious leaders attempt to dictate what political leaders actually do in Washington, they are no longer religious organizations, they then become lobbyists.
The Declaration’s website encourages supporters to sign the declaration, and counts more than 495,000 signatories as of February 2, 2012.
Notable signatories include New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Philadelphia Archbishop Justin Francis Rigali, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, and American Cardinal John Patrick Foley of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, along with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Acton Institute president Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president of Asbury Theological Seminary Timothy C. Tennent, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Al Mohler, chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary Chuck Swindoll, president of Houston Baptist University Robert B. Sloan Jr., president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Ligon Duncan, National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson, primate of the Anglican Church in North America Robert Wm. Duncan, and Orthodox Church in America primate Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen), with Bishops Mark (Maymon) of Toledo and Basil (Essey) of Wichita of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
Not one female name on this list of signatories. Not one. Strike you as strange?
The Declaration summarizes itself as follows:
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. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.
The declaration vows civil disobedience if Christians feel that their rights to civil liberties of free exercise of religion and freedom of speech are being violated. It states :
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.
Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself.
One of the drafters, Princeton Law professor Robert George, stated, “We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that. However, we see case after case of challenges to religious liberty,” including laws which he claims would force health care workers to assist in abortions or pharmacists to carry abortifacient drugs or birth control. George continued, “When the limits of conscience are reached and you cannot comply, it’s better to suffer a wrong than to do it.”
Some religious leaders and apologists have criticized and protested the Manhattan Declaration, calling its principles in general, and its opposition to gay rights in particular, contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Catholic scholar Anthony Stevens-Arroyo wrote, “While two wars are being waged, with unemployment in double digits, the financial system of the world in suspense, these religious leaders declare that abortion, stem-cell use and same sex marriage override any other Gospel value. (You won’t find Jesus saying anything about abortion or stem cells in the Gospel, but the Savior said a great deal about the homeless, the sick, and the hungry.) It’s cheating to speak pious platitudes about Christianity and ignore Jesus’ words.”
Some discussed the document as a political strategy, regarding it as the religious right’s effort to re-establish its relevance in the public square, but others noted that younger generations of evangelicals and Catholics were less likely to oppose same-sex marriage and more likely to prioritize economic issues over social, and that the document was thus unlikely to win them over. Stevens-Arroyo criticized fellow Catholics who signed the declaration for aligning themselves with evangelicals in what he described as opposition to the separation of church and state.
The declaration’s invocation of Martin Luther King and of the principles of civil disobedience has also been questioned. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times criticized the paranoid tone of the document, noting that the anecdotes it cited as examples of Christians’ religious freedom being restricted were misleading or from outside the United States, and that strong legal and judicial protections already exist for people who do not wish to perform abortions or same-sex marriages. It also questioned if the document’s advocacy of lawbreaking in the service of a religious cause might motivate anti-abortion terrorists.
Some evangelicals, such as Alistair Begg, and James R. White have taken exception to the declaration on the grounds of its ecumenism. R.C. Sproul did not sign the Declaration because he disagrees with the document’s identification of Catholics and Orthodox as “Christians.”
I have one question concerning The Manhattan Declaration, what happened to separation of church & state?
Knowledge is vital in dealing with these religious zealots and fanatics. Knowledge 2 Truth 2 Power.