Religious leaders signed a pledge Friday announcing that they won’t
abide by laws that support gay marriage or abortion. Denver Archbishop
Charles Chaput and Focus on the Family’s Founder James Dobson and
President Jim Daly joined 125 other conservative religious leaders from
Colorado in signing the so-called Manhattan Declaration. The declaration comes amid the contentious national health care debate that has featured Catholic Bishops prominently
and in the wake of hate crimes legislation passed earlier this fall
that drew staunch opposition from evangelical leaders, who argued it
might prevent them from preaching against gays. The signatories of the Declaration (pdf) vow to ignore any laws that contradict their worldview.
[L]et 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.
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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.
The list of Colorado signatories also included Fr. Joseph D Fessio,
founder and editor of Ignatius Press; Rev. Michael J Sheridan, Bishop
of the Archdiocese of Colorado Springs; and John Stonestreet, executive
director of Summit Ministries at Manitou Springs.
Andy Birkey at the Colorado Independent’s sister site in Minnesota reports that the Human Rights Campaign
immediately responded to the Declaration, pointing out that gay-rights
groups have gone to great pains to make laws that protect both gay,
bisexual and transgender people, as well as people of faith.
“This declaration simply perpetuates the fallacy that equality and
religious liberty are incompatible and that every step toward fairness
for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is another
burden on religious people. In reality, non-discrimination laws are
working all over this country, where religious freedom is existing
side-by-side with equal opportunity,” Harry Knox, director of the Human
Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program, said in a statement.
“Advocates of LGBT equality have taken great pains in their legislative
efforts to ensure that the rights of religious organizations and people
under the First Amendment are protected. It is deeply cynical for the
authors of this document to paint themselves as victims because they
cannot have a free hand to discriminate, including with taxpayer