I will say up front that I'm somewhat ignorant about "The Manhattan Declaration," save for what little I've read and heard about it. From what I gather, at its simplest, it is what it says it is--a "call of Christian conscience," a re-affirmation of fundamental truths. These truths are:
1. The sanctity of human life 2. The dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife 3. The rights of conscience and religious liberty
Quite simply, abortion is bad, same-sex marriage is bad, and religious freedom is good. The leaders that came up with this are urging people to sign the declaration and it's getting a fair amount of press.
I have a problem with this "declaration." Problems with an "s," really.
Problem #1: Chuck Colson is one of the main guys leading this declaration. Here's what he said in the New York Times, regarding moral concerns Christians face:
"We argue that there is a hierarchy of issues...A lot of the younger evangelicals say they're all alike. We're hoping to educate them that these are the three most important issues."
This declaration rubbed me the wrong way from the get-go (which I will outline as Problem #2), but when I read Colson's statement there, I really can't get on board. If people want to argue that abortion is one of the top concerns a Christian should have, fine--I can understand that. But to declare that the TOP 3 issues a Christian faces include same-sex marriage and religious freedom? What?
Have we forgotten about feeding and clothing the poor? Sheltering the homeless? Binding up the brokenhearted? Or how about simply bringing light to our surrounding darkness? Connecting people with a God they have not yet connected with?
For the life of me, I cannot, CANNOT understand why so many Christians in America are up in arms over what they call "attacks" on our religious freedom. I'm gonna shoot you straight here--Get. Over. It. Every second you take, every ounce of energy you expend on defending our "religious freedom," you've wasted what could have been spent on carrying out the actual gospel of Jesus Christ, which you can read about in a book called The Bible, which you can find underneath the pile of your Christian rally flyers. In towns where the gospel was met with hostility, the apostle Paul did not gather Christian protestors, he did not get in line for Sarah Palin's new book, he did not despair about how this town was losing its Christanity-ness. He PREACHED THE SALVATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
Sorry if I sound angry, but this is like 2nd grade math in religious terms.
Which leads me to...Problem #2: Let me say quite frankly that I "fundamentally" do not care about The Manhattan Declaration, and most of the "young evangelicals" like me also do not care. Why? Because this declaration is so soaked with politics that it's leaking its political agenda all over the floor.
I would bet all the money I have that Mr. Colson is now spending a lot of time focused on this declaration, defending this declaration, talking about this declaration to the press and anyone else that will listen.
Since when was pushing political declarations part of the focus of the gospel?
Since when did Jesus say, "Blessed are those who whine and cry about their religious freedoms?"
Since when did the early church focus on how to get back their religious freedoms from the Romans?
Maybe I missed those parts of the Bible, but I simply can't find them. Mr. Colson and company, we (the young evangelicals you speak of who are so woefully unaware of what's apparently important in this life) respectfully request that you spend the energy and passion you've expended on The Manhattan Declaration not to lead a political rally cry but to preach good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, release prisoners from darkness, baptize and make disciples.
...make disciples of Jesus, not of the politics of American Christianity.