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The Manhattan Declaration of 2009

Analysis of the declaration, & life sections

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About the Manhattan Declaration:

A group of over 150 "Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical" Christian leaders released their Manhattan Declaration -- a call for people to resist many changes to the culture. It advocates civil disobedience as necessary. 1

Analysis of the "Declaration" section:

bulletThe first paragraph: "We, as Orthodox, Catholic..." shows that the signatories have not the slightest doubt that they know God's will and seek to obey "the one true God." They have no doubt that they have interpreted the Bible correctly. There is no acknowledgment that other sincere, devout, serious, thoughtful Christians hold opposite opinions, and even that other religions worship different gods, or none.
 
bulletThe second paragraph: "While the whole scope..." raises a number of points:
 
bulletIn an apparent reference to physician assisted suicide (PAS) that has been legalized in three out of 50 states, they state that the lives of disabled and elderly persons are threatened. At first glance, this would seem to portray an image of death squads roaming the land exterminating disabled and retired folks wherever they are found. In reality, the PAS laws in Oregon and the state of Washington and a court decision in Wyoming require the individual to initiate persistent requests for aid in dying and only qualify for assistance if their life expectancy is quite short. No individual who does not want to seek an end to their life need fear PAS.
 
bulletThey attack the concept of marriage equality for loving committed couples of all sexual orientations. The "fashionable ideologies" so disparagingly referred to are "liberty and justice for all" and the equal access provisions of the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions.
 
bulletThe "freedom of religion and rights of conscience" that they feel are being threatened are in reality the freedom to discriminate, oppress and hate others. Their fears are largely groundless, because legislation guaranteeing equal rights to persons of all sexual orientations have religious exemption clauses. A case in point is the recent law combating hate crimes.
 
bulletThe third paragraph: "Because the sanctity..." seems to imply that there is no dignity in a marriage between persons of the same gender, and that "foundational principles of justice and the common good" do not include equal treatment of persons of all sexual orientations.
 
bulletThe fourth paragraph: "We are Christians" seems to imply that there is only one interpretation of the Gospel message. In reality, loving, sincere, devout Christians from the conservative and progressive wings of Christianity view the nature of the Bible very differently. As a result, they disagree widely on their interpretation of the message of the Gospel. They agree on what the Bible says, but cannot agree on what it means.

Analysis of the "Life" section:

bulletThe declaration describes persons holding pro-choice views on abortion access as "pro-abortion." This obscures the reality that both pro-choicers and pro-lifers are anxious to reduce the total number of abortions performed in the country. Over time, both hope to reach the much lower levels now found in other predominately Christian countries. The two groups mainly differ on the means to achieve this goal. Pro-lifers have concentrated on efforts to make abortion more difficult to obtain. Pro-choicers have concentrated on removing economic and other roadblocks to childbirth among pregnant women, and on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
 
bulletTheir account also obscures the main difference between pro-choicers and pro-lifers: when does human life -- in the form of a human ovum and a spermatozoon -- become a human person. This difference needs to be harmonize before the conflicts over abortion can be solved.
 
bulletThe declaration condemns therapeutic cloning because it results in the destruction of pre-embryos. Others look upon therapeutic cloning as liberating the stem cells from embryos that could never develop into human persons so that they can benefit sick, disabled, and dying persons.
 
bulletThe declaration compares the physician assisted suicide and the eugenics movement. They equate a persistent request for aid in dying by a terminally ill person in intractable pain with involuntary murder.
 
bulletOn the question of abortion, the declaration promotes the belief that the government should overrule women's decisions to terminate a pregnancy. Again, other Christians argue that the decision to terminate an early abortion should lie primarily with the woman.
 
bulletTheir reference to ethnic cleansing and genocide obscures the fact that most such activity has been committed by devout persons motivated by religious beliefs.

Next essay in this section.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Manhattan Declaration," official website, at: http://manhattandeclaration.org/
  2. The Manhattan Declaration "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience," Text of the Manhattan Declaration, 2009-NOV-20, at: http://manhattandeclaration.org/ This is a PDF file.

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2009-NOV-22
Latest update: 2009-NOV-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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