Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration - Who Cares?

The latest get together by well-known Evangelicals has produced The Manhattan Declaration. It seems that every few years now, someone in this genre of Christianity writes up a new manifesto and sends it around for everyone to sign. So once again, we have another written proclamation stating that Christianity's primary concern is with abortion and making sure that gays stay in the closet.

One thing the writers and signers of this document all have in common is that they think everyone is out to get them and that they must protect themselves.

I disagree.

I don't think anyone cares.....


Redlefty said...

I had to laugh when in the opening paragraphs they said that Christians led the charge against slavery, and later led the charge for civil rights.

Sure, and Christians were also the last to let go of their slaves (because Paul and Jesus gave implied consent to the practice) and Christians made up much of the KKK.

Steve H. said...

It seems that you care :)

Steve H. said...


I'm surprised by you response: "Sure, and Christians were also the last to let go of their slaves"

Huh? Christians have been at the forefront of the slavery movements in both the U.S. & the U.K. In particular the Quakers were instrumental in the abolitionist movement all the way through William Wilburforce and ultimately a little known Christan Baptist minister who you may have heard of: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Andrew said...

Why surprised Steve? He stated that they did both (the conjunction "and" is present). Why the litany of justifications to defend against an accusation that was not made?

Steve H. said...

Not a litany Andrew...I'm just surprised thats all. Its just that when I think of slavery and responsibility, Christianity is not the first thing that normally jumps out at you.

Its like accusing Democrats of being the major obstacle for gay marriage...not the first group you would think to point a finger at.

Steve H. said...

Also, I think Michael's "And" (conjunction) was a double negative in that (he suggests) they both last to give up their slaves (do we really know the faith of the last Americans to give up their slaves?) and made up the KKK (culturally perhaps but disciples of Christ?...probably not) Since the main force fighting slavery did so from a Christian conviction, Christians are not exactly in the firing line on this one.. IMHO

Andrew said...

Steve - I think you just really want this to be either/or when it isn't. Christians were responsible at both ends of the spectrum. I suppose it is natural that you want to up-play the positive while downplaying the negative... but natural is not always accurate.

For you, Christianity may not be the first thing that comes to mind... but for many it is, so I don't the democrat comment is applicable. I think though, that is why Red's comment comes off strong to you ... you are highly weighted and vested on one end. Negative statements of fact become derision and attack. That position makes it difficult to look at things objectively. The Manhattan Doctrine states the positive, without acknowledging the negative.... in fact, the negative almost seems to be denied by that lack of acknowledgment. It seems to be a case of "MY religion -right or wrong!"

Steve H. said...


I don't see it strongly, again, its merely surprise. If the Democrat analogy is not palatable to you, then its like saying that slavery in America is caused by white people. The fact that EVERYONE was white (for all intents and purposes) on ALL sides of every issue makes the particular religion of them not an issue. If Christianity is the "first thing that comes to mind" for some as you say, on the issue of slavery then I reason to guess their problem is not with slavery but with Christianity. In which case Jack the Ripper, the San Francisco fire, and the assasination of Abaraham Lincoln should all be chucked up to "Christians"

For the record, how does one associate slavery in America with following Jesus Christ? Obviously I am missing a connection that others are making.

Andrew said...

I think you are trying to credit Christianity for people freeing slaves, but then say that the fact that slave owners were Christian is merely coincidence. Why cannot it be the other way around?

Christianity and God were used as a justification for slavery. It was the "natural" order, mark of Cain, Paul never spoke against slavery and told slaves to obey their masters, etc....

Whether or not people have a problem with Christianity depends highly on which Christianity you are speaking of. I do not want to defend things merely because it is labeled Christian. Nor do I consider a critique of Christianity an attack on Christ, and in need of a defense.

Andrew said...

In addition, I think it is difficult to see connection from the viewpoint of the other when one is committed to a particular side or to defending a certain position.

Redlefty said...

Sorry I missed the conversation, and I apologize for opening the can of worms!

Yes, my "and" was important in the sentence -- I believe Christians both led the charge against slavery, AND held onto slaves too long. Christians fought for civil rights AND Christians were prevalent in the KKK. It's not an either/or proposition.

The manifesto Andrew posted only told one side of those stories and painted Christians as angelic deliverers of social justice. That's just not accurate history.

Just about every cultural movement has an opposite and simultaneous counter-movement. That can happen within a political party, racial group or even within a religion.

All I was trying to say is that these movements and counter-movements were certainly present during the civil rights movement. The bible belt hardly went peacfully into desegregation!

OneSmallStep said...

**that they think everyone is out to get them and that they must protect themselves. **

Maybe we should all start responding along the lines of "Why do you even think you're *worth* the effort to "get" in the first place?"

Steve H. said...

Thanks Michael for the clarification. It did change they way I read your argument.

My point being though (still) is that those who fought for civil rights and against slavery (in America and the UK) did so from a strong Christian conviction. I read some of the stories of the Quakers and other Christians, William Wilburforce or Rev. King and you see the reason they are doing this is because of God.

Now, obviously slave owners and people that were fighting desegrgation were "Christian" as well (hence your argument and I concede that) but their desire to own slaves or fight segregation did not come from Christian conviction. Although Paul and Jesus dealt with issues of how masters and slaves were to relate, that was practical issue that needed to be addressed as slavery was more rampant at that time than even in the American South (where only 4% of the pop. actually owned a slave) But Jesus never said "go make slaves of people" there is no Christian imperative for this. In fact his very edicts for how to relate would not even made slavery an option (but you know that)

And one only has to read Paul's letter to Philemon to know his heart towards people on this subject. Did some slave owners proof text some scriptures to maintain control over their slaves. Of course! People in control will use whatever tools at their disposal to maintain power.

I'm not suggesting that it was Christian vs. non-Christian. What I am suggesting is that it was Christian conviction that led the struggle against slavery and drove civil rights.

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