Thirty minutes from now, at noon at the National Press Club in Washington DC, one-hundred and twenty-five Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders will be holding a press conference on their signing of what is being called “The Manhattan Declaration.”  (I see it as today equivalent of the Barmen Declaration which was penned by Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the early days of Hitler’s Germany as a statement of the Confessing Church’s opposition to the regime.)

The Manhattan Declaration, which will be online at noon today at this link, was penned by Chuck Colson and others. The 4,700-word declaration issues a clarion call to Christians to adhere to their convictions and informs civil authorities that the signers will not – under any circumstance – abandon their Christian consciences. 

Among the signers of the Manhattan Declaration scheduled to appear at the press conference are:

  • Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  • Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Diocese of Washington, D.C.
  • Harry Jackson Jr., Bishop, Hope Christian Church
  • Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Diocese of Philadelphia
  • Timothy George, Professor, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University
  • Chuck Colson, Founder, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
  • Ron Sider, Professor, Palmer Theological Seminary and Director of the Seminary’s Sider Center on Ministry & Public Policy
  • George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family

Excerpts from the declaration include:

  • “We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right – and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation – to speak and act in defense of these truths.  We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”
  • “We recognize the duty to comply with laws whether we happen to like them or not, unless the laws are gravely unjust or require those subject to them to do something unjust or otherwise immoral.”
  • “. . . We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriage or the equivalent or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

Here’s a clip from Chuck Colson’s Two Minute warning program where he talks about the Manhattan Declaration.

The names on Barth/Bonhoeffer’s Barmen Declaration became an early enemy hit list for the Nazis. Barth had to leave Germany immediately.

Two questions for discussion here: 1) Do you see us heading in the direction of benevolent despotism as Tocqueville prophesied for America? 2) Are we in “the days of a prelude to a totalitarian government” with religious liberty being the first freedom to be taken away?