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 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.
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 dollars.”