Bill Murchison

The perceived necessity of a Manhattan Declaration would have jarred the Pilgrims from prayerful contemplation of game birds and the like at harvest festival time, 1621. What -- religious liberty so uncertain a thing as to warrant, five centuries later, a 4,700-word document justifying Christian defense of Christian principles?

Even so. On Nov. 20, a coalition of American religious leaders signed the said "Manhattan Declaration: A Call to Christian Conscience" -- making known their intention not to "compromise their proclamation of the gospel," even unto -- though they hope not -- civil disobedience.

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"Unjust laws degrade human beings," say the signers, whose number by the following Monday had swelled from an original 145 to 42,000 (such is the reach of the Internet). "Inasmuch as they can claim no authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience." Edicts, rules, attempts of any sort to force observance of non-Christian moral norms -- the signers aren't going to go along, and they think it's as well to let the world know now.

What goes on here anyway? An attempted political cramdown goes on, in the view of the Declaration signers; an uncoordinated yet nevertheless widespread assault on Christian moral values goes on, in the name of secular, politically correct ideals.

"We see [it] … in the effort to … compel pro-life institutions (including religiously affiliated hospitals and clinics) and pro-life physicians, surgeons, nurses and other health care professionals to refer for abortions and, in certain cases, even to perform or participate in abortions. We see it in the use of anti-discrimination statutes to force religious institutions, businesses and service providers of various sorts to comply with activities they judge to be deeply immoral or go out of business.

"After the judicial imposition of 'same-sex marriage' in Massachusetts, for example [Massachusetts -- wasn't that where those Pilgrims lived?] Catholic Charities chose with great reluctance to end its century-long work of helping to place orphaned children in good homes rather than comply with a legal mandate that it place children in same-sex households.


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
 
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