I’m a few years behind on this, but I just learned of and read the 2009 Manhattan Declaration on Christianity published by a group of Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Christians (http://manhattandeclaration.org). Here are its three essential affirmations:
In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.
Do these three affirmations make sense? Not to me.
First, if we accept Point One (which I do) and affirm that all people have the same inherent right to equal dignity and life, how can we then deny marriage to gay people, which is the intent of Point Two?
Second, again accepting Point One, if a mother and her unborn child have equal rights to life how can we affirm that the baby’s right to life trumps the mother’s right to life in those cases where the birth of the unborn will mean the death of the already born?
Third, if we are going to affirm in Point Two that God “ordained” marriage between a man and woman, don't we also have to affirm that God seems to have “ordained” concubinage, polygamy, and the forced marriage (legalized rape) of women captured in battle (Deuteronomy 21:10-14) as well? Either the authors of the Declaration don’t know their Bible, or they don’t want us to know it.
Fourth, Point Three says that religious liberty is “grounded in the character of God.” Really? Are Yahweh and Christ all about the rights of people to worship as they choose? Yahweh insists that we have no other gods but him, kills Jews who choose to follow other Gods, and is always willing to slaughter the priests and followers of Baal. And Christ says “no one comes to the Father except through me.” Where’s the religious liberty in that? If the Declaration’s declarers want to affirm religious freedom and liberty for all, I’m with them, but hanging this on Yahweh and Christ is a stretch.
I have no problem with people affirming their faith and their right to practice it. But please don’t pretend that in so doing you are protecting the rights of others to do the same. The Manhattan Declaration is simply a demand that society not intrude on the signers' right to practice their faith as they choose. This is fine with me as long as their right to choose one way doesn't rob others of the right to choose differently. People should be free to practice their religion as they see fit as long as they don't harm others in the process.
I am a fan of declarations, even one's I don't like. So I invite you to share your own declarations with me. Let's see what the state of belief is as we enter 2012.
Happy New Year!