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January 6, 2010

As we begin the New Year, I have mixed feelings about the ethical direction of American society – a curious combination of unease and hope. Unease, because it appears that Congress and the courts are increasing their efforts to devalue human life and to attack the family. But I also have hope, in the growing respect for human life and for our cherished institutions among average Americans.

In fact, it is the disconnect between public will and political pragmatism that causes many to be frustrated, for it appears that common citizens are being lost in the shuffle. In short, our government seems to no longer be listening. But listen it must, for our values are under attack as never before.

As Christians, it is time to make our voices heard. Professor Robert George (Princeton University), Professor Timothy George (Samford University), and Chuck Colson (founder, Prison Fellowship) have jointly authored a document entitled the Manhattan Declaration. I invite you to read the document in its entirety, but I will quote a few excerpts here.

The authors begin with a reminder of the historical role of the Christian church in promoting and defending social justice:

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.

Given our long standing commitment to these principles, it seems especially appropriate for the church to take a stand today, at a time when an increasingly secular government has become so insensitive to these human values:

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; 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.

And so, quite simply, it is these three principles are are under assault: 1) the sanctity of human life; 2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and 3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. These are not subtle matters of worship preferences or fine points of doctrine; these are common traditions that are shared by Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox believers. We should join together in common cause on these matters.

But the situation is serious, and calls for a strong commitment to oppose the forces that would tear apart the moral foundations of our nation, even to the practice of civil disobedience:

Because we honor justice and the common good, 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 marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

These are powerful words, and worthy of your consideration. Please go to the website listed below, and read the entire declaration. If you agree with it, there is a place for you to sign it.

I have done so.

The Manhattan Declaration

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