November 20, 2009
Today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., I and a dozen evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox leaders face the microphones to announce the release of an historic document—one of the most important documents produced by the American church, at least in my lifetime.
It is called the Manhattan Declaration, and signed by over 140 leaders representing every branch of American Christianity.
The Manhattan Declaration is a wake-up call—a call to conscience—for the church. It is also crystal-clear message to civil authorities that we will not, under any circumstances, stand idly by as our religious freedom comes under assault.
The Declaration begins by reminding readers that for 2,000 years, Christians have borne witness to the truths of their faith. This witness has taken various forms—proclamation, seeking justice, resisting tyranny, and reaching out to the poor, oppressed, and suffering.
Having reminded readers about why and how Christians have spoken out in the past, the Declaration then turns to what especially troubles us today—the threats to the sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage, and religious freedom.
The Declaration notes with sadness that although "public sentiment has moved in a pro-life direction," pro-abortion ideology "prevails today in our government." Both in the administration and in Congress, there are many "who want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development, and...provide abortions at taxpayer expense."
The Declaration isn't a partisan statement. It acknowledges that since Roe v. Wade, "elected officials and appointees of both major political parties have been complicit in giving legal sanction to the ‘Culture of Death.'"
The result of this bipartisan complicity is an increasingly prevalent belief that "lives that are imperfect, immature, or inconvenient are discardable." This lethal logic produces such evils as euthanasia and the "industrial mass production of human embryos to be killed" for their stem cells.
The response to this kind of assault on the sanctity of human life requires what the Manhattan Declaration calls the "gospel of costly grace." This starts with the willingness to put aside our comfort and serve those whom the broader culture would deem outside the scope of its concern and legal protection.
The cost may be higher. Christians may have to choose between the demands of what St. Augustine called the "City of Man" and the "City of God"—which, for the Christian, is really no choice at all.
This kind of principled non-cooperation with evil won't be easy—there are signs of a reduced tolerance for that most basic of American values, religious freedom. As we've discussed many times on BreakPoint, Christian organizations are losing tax-exempt status for refusing to buy in to homosexual "marriage." Some are going out of business rather than cave into immoral demands—such as placing children for adoption with homosexual couples. Conscientious medical personnel are being sued or being fired for obeying their consciences.
I say, enough is enough. The Church must take a stand. And with the release of the Manhattan Declaration, that's exactly what we are doing.
I am asking Christians by the thousands to come to ColsonCenter.org, where you'll be able to read and sign the document.
Please stand with us today. Tell the world you stand for the sanctity of life and traditional marriage—and that you cherish your God-given freedom.
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.