December 15, 2009
Just before Thanksgiving, I was able to participate in a truly amazing moment—the release of the Manhattan Declaration. I truly believe that the Manhattan Declaration will galvanize Christians across denominational lines to stand up for the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage, and for religious freedom.
The response so far has been breathtaking. More than a quarter of a million believers signed the document in the first two weeks. I hope you have also. But if not, go to ManhattanDeclaration.org today, read the document, ponder it, and, if you agree, sign your name to it.
Many people have emailed me asking, "Now that I've signed the document, what can I do?" Well, the first thing to do is to talk to other people about the document.
And there's a great occasion coming up for advancing religious freedom. That's Religious Freedom Sunday, which is scheduled for January 10th. You can get others in your church to sign on that day to the Manhattan Declaration. And for Religious Freedom Sunday this year, Gateways to Better Education and the Alliance Defense Fund have teamed up to provide churches across the country with a way to promote religious freedom in our nation's schools.
You've heard me talk about this on BreakPoint before—the plight of public school students, from politically correct teaching to outright hostility to their religious beliefs. Too many students are told they can't even talk about their faith in class, or that they can't refer to their faith in their homework. Many now feel they can't even pray silently over their lunch at school.
For example, a 7-year-old, Lauren Kinnear, had only been a first-grader in her public school for a couple of months when she came home and told her mother that she couldn't pray at school.
Her mother, Wendy, later recalled, "It was chilling that Lauren said it in such a matter-of-fact way."
But Wendy knew her daughter's religious liberties were in danger, and she began championing the cause of students' freedom of expression in her community. Due to Wendy's gentle but persistent efforts, students at Lauren's school—and even across the school district—learned about their religious freedoms.
You, like Wendy, can stand up for religious freedom—especially for students from kindergarten through high school.
Ask your church leaders to participate in Religious Freedom Sunday. Honor the educators in your congregation. Educate your church about religious freedom. Distribute to parents a pamphlet produced by Gateways called "Free to Speak: What the U.S. Department of Education says about public schools students' religious liberties." It explains seven religious liberties schools must honor. Sadly, many schools don't even know about them.
For every package of 100 pamphlets you order, the Alliance Defense Fund has volunteered to send a six-page letter to the school official of your choice. The letter cites Supreme Court cases clarifying students' and teachers' religious liberties. Your church could have letters sent to every school principal in your community!
Visit our website, BreakPoint.org, to find out more about Religious Freedom Sunday. If you have signed the Manhattan Declaration, and you're wondering, "What now?"—well, get your church involved signing the declaration and spreading the message of religious liberty in your community.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.