A group of over 150 "Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical" Christian
leaders released their
Manhattan Declaration -- a call
for people to resist changes to the culture. It advocates civil disobedience
Three conservative known Christian leaders drafted the declaration during the summer of 2009. They are:
Charles Colson, an evangelical Christian, a former member of
President Nixon's White House staff, a convicted felon, a holder of 15
honorary degrees, the recipient of the 1993 Templeton Prize, the founder of
Prison Fellowship, the founder of
The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and a co-founder of
Evangelicals and Catholics Together -- an inter-faith group that
attempts to increase cooperation between conservative Protestants and Roman
Robert P. George, a Roman Catholic, the McCormick Professor of
Jurisprudence at Princeton University, director of the James Madison Program
in American Ideals and Institutions, recipient of numerous honorary doctorates
in law, ethics, science, letters, civil law, humane letters, and juridical
science, and recipient of many awards.
Timothy George is a professor and founding dean oft Beeson
Divinity School at Samford University and a senior editor of
The discussions leading to the preparation of the declaration started in New
York City. That is the origin of "Manhattan" in the document's title.
Content and support:
On 2009-NOV-20, at a press conference to announce the declaration at the
National Press Club, Chuck Colson said:
"The Manhattan Declaration is a wake-up call -- a call to conscience -- for the
church. It is also a crystal-clear message to civil authorities that we will
not, under any circumstances, stand idly by as our religious freedom comes under
This may be a recipe for disaster and massive
conflict, because many conflicts over religious freedom involve preventing women
and sexual minorities from having certain rights. They are also not going to
stand idly by as their quest for equal rights comes under assault.
The signatories promise that they will refuse to take
part in what they call "anti-life acts" or to marry loving, committed same-sex couples.
If necessary, they
will engage in civil disobedience.
The Washington Times stated:
"The first 148 signatures include Southern Baptists, Anglicans, the
Orthodox Church of America (OCA), members of Reformed, evangelical, Hispanic
Protestant, Church of God in Christ, Antiochian Orthodox and Evangelical Free
Church traditions plus the executives of numerous parachurch ministries."
"There were only a handful of Presbyterians, United Methodists and
Pentecostals, and no apparent signatories from Seventh-day Adventist,
Messianic Jewish, and Episcopal churches."
Within two days, readers had added 58 comments to the Times article; the vast
majority were quite positive. 2
Since the press conference, the declaration has been posted on the Internet so that
interested individuals are able to sign it. 3
Within less than two days, over 20,000 signatures were collected from the public.
Within six days, the number had grown to 150,000, one out of every 500
evangelicals in the U.S.
Preamble to the Declaration:
The preamble reads:
"While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian
institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those
Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash
heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire's sanctioning of
infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their
lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the
plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord."
"After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved
not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was
Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the 16th
and 17th centuries decried the
practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade;
evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce,
put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce's
leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the
imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines."
"In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully
fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which
made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the
vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s
and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory
of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or
"This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to
work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery,
bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of
other human rights causes -- from providing clean water in developing nations to
providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and
"Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called
to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the
human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling,
the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a
profound contribution to the public good." 2