.- An unprecedented coalition of prominent Christian clergy, ministry leaders, and scholars has crafted a 4,700-word declaration addressing the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. The declaration issues “a clarion call” to Christians to adhere to their convictions and informs civil authorities that the signers will not “under any circumstance” abandon their Christian consciences.
The statement, called “the Manhattan Declaration,” has been signed by more than 125 Catholic, Evangelical Christian, and Orthodox leaders, and will be made fully public at a noon press conference in the National Press Club in Washington DC on Friday.
“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.
“We recognize the duty to comply with laws whether we happen to like them or not, unless the laws are gravely unjust or require those subject to them to do something unjust or otherwise immoral,” the signatories explain.
But they also made 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 Manhattan Declaration is the result of several months of dialogue among Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders culminating in a gathering of approximately 100 leaders in New York City on September 28, 2009.
Attendees considered an early draft of the “Manhattan Declaration, A Call of Christian Conscience,” but the document was entrusted to a drafting committee that included Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton University, and renowned Evangelical leader Charles Colson.
The signatories explained that they speak now because in order "to defend principles of justice and the common good that are now under assault."
"We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we will under no circumstances render to Caesar what is God’s."
The signatories of the Manhattan Declaration explain that although public sentiment has moved in a pro-life direction, "pro-abortion ideology prevails in many places of power and influence."
"Our government promotes and funds scientific research in which the lives of tiny human beings in the early embryonic states of development are treated as disposable research material."
They also contend that "public policies contribute to the weakening of the institution of marriage, including the discredited idea of unilateral divorce," while "influential individuals and organizations are seeking to redefine marriage to embrace same-sex partnerships and to recognize multiple-party sexual unions that are beyond same-sex marriage.”
Signatories of the declaration include Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia; Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit; Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver; Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark; John Nienstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis; Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City; Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville; Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix; Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs; Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, Bishop of Oakland; Richard J. Malone, Bishop of Portland; and David A. Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh.
Other signatories include Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America; Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria; Jody Bottum, Editor of First Things; Chuck Colson, Founder of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview; Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List; Dr. James Dobson, Founder of Focus on the Family; Dr. William Donohue, President of the Catholic League; Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Primate of the Anglican Church in North America; Fr. Joseph D. Fessio, Founder and Editor of Ignatius Press; Maggie Gallagher, President of Institute for Marriage and Public Policy; Dr. Robert P. George; Fr. Chad Hatfield, Archpriest of St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary; Jerry Jenkins, Chairman of the board of trustees for Moody Bible Institute; Jim Kushiner, Editor of Touchstone; Dr. Richard Land, President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC; Rev. William Owens, Chairman of the Coalition of African-American Pastors; Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council; Michael Timmis, Chairman of Prison Fellowship International; Juan Valdes, Chaplain of Florida Christian School and George Weigel, Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
The full document will be available http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/ following the press conference.