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The Manhattan Declaration: Hypocrites United

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The Christian Right has arrogantly come up with their own Nicene Creed. However, the Nicene Creed only states a belief of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, while the Manhattan Declaration states a whole host of beliefs not the least of which is that the holiest of all actions is hypocrisy. I'm certain that better writers and more intelligent people have attacked it by now as a blathering piece of BFD. So this post is, by its timing, anti-climactic.

But it is this kind of bloviating sanctimoniousness that drives people to respond anyway, because after reading it, one is prompted to react with "Do Something!"

So here is my take, such as it is. Sorry about the length, but when dealing enormous amounts of hot air, it takes an equal length of writing to respond to them.


Preamble


Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God's word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages
[In other words, they don't intend to address the topic of pedophile priests or ministers], 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 [Like the onslaught of AIDS?], 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. [And for almost 1000 years, kept them all for themselves.] 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. [American Christians, however, were rather split at the time, weren't they?] 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. [Of course, Christians allowed Europeans a breather after 782 wars in 800 years -- all sanctioned by Christians] And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. [And that, my friends, is the last you will read about women's rights in this polemic] 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 class. [Take that, Southern Baptists!]

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 gender discrimination. [Their "devotion to human dignity" skipped 1981 to 1999 simply because people with AIDS were anathema. Period.]

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.

Declaration


We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason [Quite a jump from Scripture to "natural human reason"] (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies: [Well, at least they admit we're fashionable!] that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

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 . [This means freedom to be Christian ONLY.]


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. ["ecclesial differences" -- Why is it that organized religion only bonds together when hey are AGAINST something? They can agree on base generalities like "peace," but when dogma -- the absolute heart of the church -- is necessary, they agree to disagree -- and hope that the bottom won't fall out from underneath their congregation's base.] 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. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.

****

Life
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10


Although public sentiment has moved in a pro-life direction, we note with sadness that pro-abortion ideology prevails today in our government. The present administration is led and staffed by those who want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and who want to provide abortions at taxpayer expense. [Whether or not they like it, people are paying for abortions through their insurance premiums. The "taxpayer expense" is really a singular jab at Planned Parenthood.] Majorities in both houses of Congress hold pro-abortion views. The Supreme Court, whose infamous 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade stripped the unborn of legal protection, continues to treat elective abortion as a fundamental constitutional right, though it has upheld as constitutionally permissible some limited restrictions on abortion. The President says that he wants to reduce the "need" for abortion--a commendable goal. But he has also pledged to make abortion more easily and widely available by eliminating laws prohibiting government funding, requiring waiting periods for women seeking abortions, and parental notification for abortions performed on minors. The elimination of these important and effective pro-life laws cannot reasonably be expected to do other than significantly increase the number of elective abortions by which the lives of countless children are snuffed out prior to birth. ["Pro-life" is a misnomer. It should be "pro-birth." Would pro-lifers ever put their money where their mouth is and help to SUPPORT those children after birth? There are still a few "maternity hospitals" left (I was born in one), but they are not adequately supported by any faith-based organizations. One solution: provide a box to check on the taxpayer's 1040 that states: "I stand pro-life. I want my tax return to benefit (fill in blank with name of legitimate social non-profit) so that a child may be fed, sheltered, clothed and educated according to the standards set by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare." ] Our commitment to the sanctity of life is not a matter of partisan loyalty, for we recognize that in the thirty-six years since Roe v. Wade, elected officials and appointees of both major political parties have been complicit in giving legal sanction to what Pope John Paul II described as "the culture of death." We call on all officials in our country, elected and appointed, to protect and serve every member of our society, including the most marginalized, voiceless, and vulnerable among us.

A culture of death inevitably cheapens life in all its stages and conditions by promoting the belief that lives that are imperfect, immature or inconvenient are discardable.[ No such word, but it has probably been used time and again on "birther"\"teabagger" signs.] As predicted by many prescient persons, the cheapening of life that began with abortion has now metastasized. [Only recently did Christians value the life of a child born out of wedlock: it was until about 1920 that birth certificates of such children were stamped "illegitimate."] For example, human embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science and in the cause of developing treatments and cures for diseases and injuries. The President and many in Congress favor the expansion of embryo-research to include the taxpayer funding of so-called "therapeutic cloning." This would result in the industrial mass production of human embryos to be killed for the purpose of producing genetically customized stem cell lines and tissues. [Now the conspiracy theories start. This statement is wild supposition of the Pat Robertson kind. And science fiction has absolutely no place in a manifesto such as this.] At the other end of life, an increasingly powerful movement to promote assisted suicide and "voluntary" euthanasia threatens the lives of vulnerable elderly and disabled persons. Eugenic notions such as the doctrine of lebensunwertes Leben ("life unworthy of life") were first advanced in the 1920s by intellectuals in the elite salons of America and Europe. Long buried in ignominy after the horrors of the mid-20th century, they have returned from the grave. [This invites a wild analogy: so many of us have our pets "put to sleep" because we don't want them to suffer anymore. Yet good "Christians" will force our loved ones to suffer and have no say at all about the continuance of their lives.] The only difference is that now the doctrines of the eugenicists are dressed up in the language of "liberty," "autonomy," and "choice."

We will be united and untiring in our efforts to roll back the license to kill that began with the abandonment of the unborn to abortion. We will work, as we have always worked, to bring assistance, comfort, and care to pregnant women in need . and to those who have been victimized by abortion, even as we stand resolutely against the corrupt and degrading notion that it can somehow be in the best interests of women to submit to the deliberate killing of their unborn children. [While the incident may have involved another country, I feel I must remind Chuck Colson that the last Magdalene Laundry was closed in the early 1990s. He's portraying all Christians as self-effacing saints.] Our message is, and ever shall be, that the just, humane, and truly Christian answer to problem pregnancies is for all of us to love and care for mother and child alike.

A truly prophetic Christian witness will insistently call on those who have been entrusted with temporal power to fulfill the first responsibility of government: to protect the weak and vulnerable against violent attack, and to do so with no favoritism, partiality, or discrimination. The Bible enjoins us to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to speak for those who cannot themselves speak. And so we defend and speak for the unborn, the disabled, and the dependent. What the Bible and the light of reason make clear, we must make clear. [Equating the Bible with reason?] We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of our brothers and sisters at every stage of development and in every condition.


Marriage



The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24

This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:32-33


In Scripture, the creation of man and woman, and their one-flesh union as husband and wife, is the crowning achievement of God's creation. In the transmission of life and the nurturing of children, men and women joined as spouses are given the great honor of being partners with God Himself. Marriage then, is the first institution of human society--indeed it is the institution on which all other human institutions have their foundation. In the Christian tradition we refer to marriage as "holy matrimony" to signal the fact that it is an institution ordained by God, and blessed by Christ in his participation at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. In the Bible, God Himself blesses and holds marriage in the highest esteem. Vast human experience confirms that marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all persons in a society. [Including everyone and every culture is totally false: out of 1300 cultures studied, only about 250 were based on one-man-one-woman marriage. The rest were polygamous. And only in the last 300 years or so has the idea of love as a basis for marriage been recognized. Past cultures almost exclusively supported arranged marriages based on money, property and other assets.] Where marriage is honored, and where there is a flourishing marriage culture, everyone benefits--the spouses themselves, their children, the communities and societies in which they live. Where the marriage culture begins to erode, social pathologies of every sort quickly manifest themselves. Unfortunately, we have witnessed over the course of the past several decades a serious erosion of the marriage culture in our own country. Perhaps the most telling--and alarming--indicator is the out-of-wedlock birth rate. Less than fifty years ago, it was under 5 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. Our society--and particularly its poorest and most vulnerable sectors, where the out-of-wedlock birth rate is much higher even than the national average--is paying a huge price in delinquency, drug abuse, crime, incarceration, hopelessness, and despair. [Personal note: I was born in Chicago at St. Vincent's Infant Asylum and Maternity Hospital and put up for adoption from birth. I was illegitimate. Ann Coulter(geist) has brazenly (and stupidly) characterized and generalized ALL children born out of wedlock as drug addicts and criminals. I must be the odd one out.] Other indicators are widespread non-marital sexual cohabitation and a devastatingly high rate of divorce.

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http://sacredcowsmakethebesthamburgers.blogspot.com

Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books €" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)
 
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