Last Friday, November 20th, Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Protestant Christians united to publicly release the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.. Below is a brief description of the declaration:
The Manhattan Declaration is a 4,732-word statement signed by a movement of Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders who are collaborating around moral issues of great concern. Its 125+ signers affirm the sanctity of human life, marriage as defined by the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
In the above video clip, Chuck Colson, one of the authors, talks about why the Manhatten Declaration is needed. He talks about how the Church needs to stand up for our religious freedom, in another related commentary, he had this to say:
So why is religious freedom such a concern to us as Christians? Freedom of religion is called the first freedom for a reason. Our founding fathers recognized that without freedom of conscience, no other freedom can be guaranteed.Colson says the declaration was needed because we are losing our freedoms and our conscience clause. Alexis de Tocqueville said that as we begin to lose our freedoms we will end up with benevolent despotism, which is where we are headed. Colson also encouraged everyone to read Hannah Erendt's book, The Origins of Totalitarianism.
Christians, in fact, are the greatest defenders of religious freedom and human liberty—not just for Christians, but for all people. Compare religious freedom in those countries with a Christian heritage to the state of religious freedom in Islamic nations, communist countries, and Buddhist and Hindu nations, and you will see my point.
The reason that Christians place such a high value on human freedom is that freedom itself is part of the creation account in the Bible. God made humans in His image. He gave us a free will to choose to love, follow, and obey Him, or to follow our own way.
That free will, given us before the Fall, is part of human nature itself.
Perhaps more than anything else, it was this understanding of individual freedom that turned me into the kind of patriot who would willingly give his life for his country. It was the words of the Declaration of Independence that inspired me to join the Marines: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
So this question of human freedom goes to the very heart of who we are as Christians and as Americans.
Here is the beginning of the Preamble of the Declaration:
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.I urge all of us to take a stand for the Christian Conscience and for all of our religious freedoms, while we still can!!
Action & Links:
To read the whole Declaration, go here!
To sign the Declaration, go here!
--The Origins of Totalitarianism--Hannah Arendt
--Call of Christian Conscience by Jim Daly