Manhattan Declaration Issues Not High on Jesus’s Priority Stack

Ellen Haroutunian’s recent piece about the Manhattan Declaration, posted on her blog site (Seeking Our Living Orthodoxy), is a powerful call to Christians to live their faith.

The Manhattan Declaration, crafted by a group of conservative Christian leaders, identifies three main areas of concern for modern Christians: abortion, same-sex marriage, and religious liberty. Has anyone noticed anything strange about this selection? Yes, that’s right. It doesn’t map to the concerns of Jesus, the founder of Christianity. Jesus did not even mention them.

This is not to say they aren’t important, but why are they so high on the priority stack, and why is there no mention of Jesus’s own priorities?

For starters, I would have expected to find a list of concerns based on Jesus’s teachings about how we treat the poor, the sick, and those who suffer persecution. The Manhattan Declaration might have called for universal healthcare, an end to genocide and human rights abuses, and a concerted effort to end poverty and hunger throughout the world. Instead, the three issues spotlighted in the declaration reflect the political agendas of its authors, for whom poverty, healthcare, and human rights abuses are apparently peripheral or unimportant.

Once again, I would like to know when conservative Christians and the Catholic Church are going to speak out against Uganda’s persecution of homosexuals. Is the Church silent about this because of Uganda’s large Catholic population, or is it because the Church doesn’t really believe the words of its catechism about homosexuality? (Homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”) New legislation requiring the death penalty for homosexual acts will probably be enacted soon. I would expect that Christians, whose savior died at the hands of his persecutors, would speak out against the persecution of homosexuals. If not, then I would like to know what Christianity is for? Is it only about condemning abortion and homosexuality and constraints on its own power?  

I found the following paragraph from Ellen’s piece particularly compelling:

To take a real “stand” that flows from love would mean an incarnational and consistent engagement with the people that this document affects. Seriously, how many babies are we willing to adopt? How much child care will we subsidize out of our own pockets? Have the declaration writers invited their gay neighbors to dinner yet? Have you? Are the authors willing to move to the Congo and die alongside those being extinguished by ethnic hatred there? Are any of us willing to go that far? You have to admit, a bunch of middle- to upper-middle-class white guys doing that would certainly grab media attention and maybe make an impact that would shake the core of this self-centered world. It might even make a real difference the way that sanctions and bombs have not. Call me cynical, but something tells me this is not in the plans for the writers of this document.


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One Response to “Manhattan Declaration Issues Not High on Jesus’s Priority Stack”

  1. Selena Says:

    Hi, sorry for this offtopic question but i dont find the RSS Feed Link to add this Blog to my Feedreader. Could you please give me the URL? Thanks a lot.

    Greetings from Switzerland

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