Thursday, December 09, 2010

Matt 24 watch, 111: The Manhattan Declaration

I have just discovered the Manhattan Declaration. I strongly recommend reading it, at least in the summary version. Notice the balanced focus on life, marriage and liberty of conscience.  If you feel so led, please consider signing it. In my opinion, especially in the full form, it is excellently reasoned and expressed in a very carefully balanced way informed by the planks vs sawdust in eyes principle. It is comparable in historical significance to the Barmen Declaration of 1934; which denounced Fascist and similar forms of political messianism as idolatry.

Here is the summary form:


Drafted October 20, 2009 & Released November 20, 2009


A Summary
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Human Life
The lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are ever more threatened. While public opinion has moved in a pro-life direction, powerful and determined forces are working to expand abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Although the protection of the weak and vulnerable is the first obligation of government, the power of government is today often enlisted in the cause of promoting what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death.” We pledge to work unceasingly for the equal protection of every innocent human being at every stage of development and in every condition. We will refuse to permit ourselves or our institutions to be implicated in the taking of human life and we will support in every possible way those who, in conscience, take the same stand.

The institution of marriage, already wounded by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is at risk of being redefined and thus subverted. Marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. Where marriage erodes, social pathologies rise. The impulse to redefine marriage is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil law as well as our religious traditions. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. Marriage is not a “social construction,” but is rather an objective reality—the covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize, honor, and protect.

Religious Liberty
Freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized. The threat to these fundamental principles of justice is evident in efforts to weaken or eliminate conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, and in antidiscrimination statutes that are used as weapons to force religious institutions, charities, businesses, and service providers either to accept (and even facilitate) activities and relationships they judge to be immoral, or go out of business. Attacks on religious liberty are dire threats not only to individuals, but also to the institutions of civil society including families, charities, and religious communities. The health and well-being of such institutions provide an indispensable buffer against the overweening power of government and is essential to the flourishing of every other institution—including government itself—on which society depends.

Unjust Laws
As Christians, we believe in law and we respect the authority of earthly rulers. We count it as a special privilege to live in a democratic society where the moral claims of the law on us are even stronger in virtue of the rights of all citizens to participate in the political process. Yet even in a democratic regime, laws can be unjust. And from the beginning, our faith has taught that civil disobedience is required in the face of gravely unjust laws or laws that purport to require us to do what is unjust or otherwise immoral. Such laws lack the power to bind in conscience because they can claim no authority beyond that of sheer human will.

Therefore, let it be known that we will not comply with any edict that compels us or the institutions we lead to participate in or facilitate abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that violates the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family.

Further, let it be known that we will not bend to any rule forcing us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality, marriage, and the family.

Further, let it be known that we will not be intimidated into silence or acquiescence or the violation of our consciences by any power on earth, be it cultural or political, regardless of the consequences to ourselves.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.>>

I think we need to soberly reflect on a situation in our civilisation where such a declaration would become necessary, and where it is controversial. END


GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

A certain Mr Tanner has submitted as comment here wishing a discussion at his blog, on the claim that the ID blog Uncommon Descent is indulging in "censorship."

Since the only action I am aware of there is moderation -- review before publishing -- of comments by a participant who has indulged in slander to the level of falsely accusing me of support for mass murder of homosexuals, I will not publish his comment here.

If he is able to substantiate a claim of true censorship, I would entertain such a comment here.

Absent such a demonstration within the next 48 hours, I will report the attempted comment to the leadership at UD as an attempted slander.

(NB: This blog, openly, is moderated, and that is because there has been a problem in the past of obscene comments when comments were un-moderated.)

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

PS: On glancing at Mr Tanner's blog post, I found the following slander:

>> The Creationist Is/Ought is an argumentative bait-and-switch. You think you're getting a straightforward argument but what you're getting is evangelism. The evangelism can be of the soft-shoe variety, as with Dembski, or it can be more of the Torquemada sort, as with a character called "GEM of The Kairos Initiative," . . . >>

Torquemada, of course was the first Grand Inquisitor of Spain, and is commonly held to have been responsible for torture and killing of people for questions of conscience.

This sort of uncalled for name-calling smear shows that Mr Tanner is a devotee of the slander tactics of Mr Alinsky's Rules for Radicals.

As such, he disqualifies himself from civil discussion, and unless he apologises and retracts such utterly uncivil remarks, he will not be further permitted comments here beyond the substantiation of his allegation of "censorship" at UD.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

Mr Tanner has posted a comment including a reference to a screen shot of a UD thread showing that he has a comment in moderation.

In short, he is actually complaining of being in moderation. Given his uncivil behaviour to and about me, as just noted, that is unsurprising and is no proof of censorship.

Moderation is not to be equated to censorship.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N: In part, Mr Tanner seems to be responding to a remark of mine in a second exchange at UD here, where I commented on how he dismissed implication arguments as what he would not hang his hat on, and a further remark here where I replied to how he used "metaphors" dismissively about the algorithmic implementation of the 4-state genetic code to make proteins etc in the living cell.

From his screen shot of a moderated comment, he is apparently vexed that I asked if he is unaware of how often he hangs far more than a hat on implications. [He had dismissed implication arguments in comment 29: "I wouldn’t hang my hat on an implication."]

Later, in response to his dismissive use of the term "metaphors" I asked if he is unaware that the Genetic code is a 4-state digital code and the associated protein-assembling algorithm is implemented in nanomachines such as Ribosomes mRNA and tRNA (not a metaphor). I pointed out that if such ignorance is so, then "you are not ready for this discussion."

I think the remarks are fair comment given the context, and they were not at all intended as disrespectful. However, they plainly were sharp enough to give offense and for that I apologise.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

Mr Tanner has attempted a further "invitation" to go to his blog for further discussion. However, he has now forfeited all rights to civil discussion.

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

F/N: Those needing to look at a survey of the grounding of the Bible-believing Christian worldview that underlies the above, in the face of skeptical challenges or doubts, may want to start here. One should not allow onself to be enmeshed in a spider's web of selective hyperskepticism, closed-minded objectionism, and the trifecta fallacy of distraction, distortion and polarising uncivil demonisation. (NB: It is this latter approach that has disqualified Mr Tanner and ilk from further discussion, pending correction of incivility. Some serious apologies, retractions and corrections of especially slander are indicated, but ate sadly utterly wanting.)