Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Colossians 3:15

Monday, December 7, 2009

Manhattan Decllaration: Call to Saintliness

Published in Cumberland Times-News Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.

"All pledge their commitments, and urge us to pledge ours, to stand up, or sit down, and refuse to comply with laws that kill the vulnerable, defile the natural union, or silence conscientious objectors."
Saintliness is difficult, but simple: Do what is right in the eyes of the eternal God, not what is popular in the current culture. We all are sinners, but each can be a saint.

This Advent, let’s pray for strengthened conviction, for ourselves and for others, so that the visionaries of the Manhattan Declaration will accomplish their goals: To invigorate America’s Christians to do heroic acts of civil disobedience; and to inspire others of faith (or no faith at all) to adhere to biblical and natural truths that preserve life, define marriage, and exercise conscience.

One hundred sixty-eight American Christian clergy and leaders signed the Manhattan Declaration, presented to the public Nov. 20 in Washington, D.C. Thirty-one represent Catholic communities – bishops from Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, Brooklyn, Newark, Kansas City (Kan.), Birmingham, Denver, Oakland (Calif.), Louisville, Detroit, Portland, Madison, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Fargo, Phoenix and Colorado Springs, along with Catholic editors, activists, educators, writers and scholars. Others represent the Orthodox, Evangelical and Anglican faithful.

All pledge their commitments, and urge us to pledge ours, to stand up, or sit down, and refuse to comply with laws that kill the vulnerable, defile the natural union, or silence conscientious objectors.

Nearly 300,000 Americans have signed onto the document, so far, to support renewal of Christians’ “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.”

Most poignantly, during this holy season, as we reflect on our own shortcomings and imperfections, and in this troubled time for our institutions, our religious leaders call us to take courage and do what is right, not comply with what is popular.

This is a protest against compromise and complicity with the inherent evils of abortion and euthanasia, unnatural unions, and coercive repression of religion. The declaration reminds us of those “who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.”

We would hope that no modern-day saint in America would face death for civil disobedience; but these times are unsettled: A revolution brews.

The Taxed Enough Already Tea Party crowds protest corruption, redistribution and over-spending by big government. Black conservatives protest socialist and communist ideas (termed “plantation politics”) that undermine the American identity, perpetuate oppression, and resurrect racism (“Time to Be Heard: Black Conservatives in America” transcript, Nov. 16,,2933,575301,00.html).

Now comes the Manhattan Declaration: Drafted by Dr. Robert George, law professor at Princeton University; Dr. Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Stanford University; and Chuck Colson, founder of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, the effort unites the thoughts, voices and actions of America’s Christians on matters of justice, human rights and the common good.

The Manhattan Declaration web site defines conscience as “the faculty of judging, informed by faith and reason, what one is bound by a law higher than oneself to do or not do, even if one would prefer…to do otherwise.”

Those who wish to preserve truth and freedom in America, and to live by “principles of right reason and natural law,” as Cardinal Justin Rigali summarized at the press conference, are logging on and signing up: