A 4,700 word gauntlet has been thrown down before what I guess is perceived as America's liberal-secular triumphalism (apparently made real to social conservative imagination by the Obama ascendancy) via the "Manhattan Declaration," which "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."
The declaration unites Christians across many a sectarian divide in their resistance to abortion and gay marriage and in support of religious liberty. The tone is pretty "onward Christian soldier" in a none-too-subtle attempt to perhaps reignite the culture wars that Obama's "let's be reasonable, shall we" style of rhetoric seemed intent on avoiding. Apparently no longer waiting for Obama to start a fight, the group of 149 Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders--including Archbishops Timothy Dolan of New York, Charles Chaput of Denver and Washington's Donald Wuerl--has opted for a preemptive rhetorical strike on the the looming Obama-socialist-athiest makeover of America.
Some major points from the declaration:
• It is ironic that those who today assert a right to kill the unborn, aged and disabled and also a right to engage in immoral sexual practices, and even a right to have relationships integrated around these practices be recognized and blessed by law - such persons claiming these "rights" are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.
• Because we honor justice and the common good, 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 marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's.
From the New York Times coverage of the decalaration's release: "Ira C. Lupu, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, said it was 'fear-mongering' to suggest that religious institutions would be forced to do any of those things. He said they are protected by the First Amendment, and by conscience clauses that allow medical professionals and hospitals to opt out of performing certain procedures, and religious exemptions written into same-sex marriage bills."
I hope I am not proved wrong by events, but I find myself wondering, much in the manner America's hard right-wing seems chasing after something of an anti-idealized shadow of the real political world according to Obama, this alliance of spiritual leaders pursues a cultural phantasm of its own making.