A coalition of 150 Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical leaders have recently signed their names to a manifesto declaring their rejection of any attempt by secular authorities to impose laws which would force them to accept abortion, same-sex marriage and other ideas that conflict with their religious beliefs or that would force them to mute their criticism of either the abortion culture or gay marriage.
The 4,700-word document is called the "The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience," and signatories include many well-known evangelical leaders (though there are some notable omissions) in company with a number of Catholic leaders. The Declaration calls on Christians to engage in civil disobedience, if necessary, to defend their right to proclaim and practice their faith.
Charles Colson, one of the drafters of the document, says that abortion, marriage, and religious liberty are the three most important issues facing believers today.
The Declaration proclaims that "We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them." It goes on to list the "fundamental truths" as the "sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty."
The document also declares that "Throughout the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required," and cites as an exemplar Martin Luther King and his willingness to go to jail for his beliefs.
Not all Christians agree with Declaration's emphasis, however. Some, such as Ron Sider, argue that these three issues, though crucially important, are no more important than fighting poverty and racism, and promoting the dignity of women. Others take the Declaration to task for not offering more guidance on how best to respond to a secularized culture that seems bent on diminishing our rights and liberties.
Be that as it may, the Manhattan Declaration is an important statement of the concern that many are feeling at the erosion of the moral fabric of our nation and the threat to our First Amendment rights posed by our infatuation with political correctness.