Saturday, November 21, 2009

More Manhattan Declaration.

If you are so inclined, you may read the entire Declaration here, and even sign it.

Timothy Kincaid reminds us of the segment of religious society that the Declaration represents:

First, let us say what this document is not. It is not, as the NY Times described it, a situation in which “Christian Leaders Unite on Political Issues“. Indeed, this is but a segment of Christian thought, claiming the mantle of Christian history and tradition but excluding broad segments of the faith.

One need only glance at the signatories to know the nature of the alliance. Present are some who are well known names in the political culture wars who have long striven to impose their religious views by force of law on the unbelievers: Dr. James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, and Tony Perkins. Some are religious leaders who have been recently shifting their realm of influence away from faith towards secular domination: Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Jonathan Falwell.

But this is not just broadly social conservatives. There is, instead, a concentration of those who focus on “opposing the homosexual agenda”. There are a few religious activists who seem dedicated and committed (obsessed, one might think) to fighting equality for gay people: Ken Hutcherson, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Jim Garlow. And then, inexplicably, some who are not religious leaders at all but social activists whose primary occupation is in seeking the political institutionalizing of inequality to gay people: Maggie Gallagher, Frank Schubert, and William Donohue.

Perhaps the most difficult to explain, and by far the most troubling name present, is The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Primate, Anglican Church of Nigeria.

There is no explanation provided as to what relevance Akinola has on what is a uniquely American collection. But his participation is not accidental. And, as I will discuss momentarily, his is perhaps the key that explains the true nature of this manifesto.

This could be seen as nothing more that “the usual suspects”, a rehashing of the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition or any other of the loose groupings of religious authoritarians, were it not for one import inclusion. There are nine Catholic Archbishops who signed on to this document.

Ideologically as dissimilar as possible, these two Christian extremes – one whose doctrine is based in tradition, liturgy, and hierarchy, the other whose doctrine is based in reform, spirit-led worship, and direct divine revelation – have set aside ancient hostilities and theological beliefs that doubt the other’s right to be considered “Christian” and have now joined in a common purpose: denying your rights.

But as important as who is present, is who is absent.

Among the signatories I was unable to find any members of the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Friends (Quaker), Disciples of Christ, Unitarian Universalists or American Baptists. There was one United Methodist minister.

In short, a whole branch of Christianity, Mainline Christianity, was missing, including many who no doubt would agree with the goals of banning abortion and forbidding same-sex marriage. This exclusion is, I believe, integral to understanding the true purpose of this manifesto.

Kincaid draws the conclusion that this is a declaration of war by one segment of faith in the US against another, a showing of jealousy at the power that "mainline" religion in the US has garnered:

Note the presence of the second signatory, Peter Akinola? He is the Nigerian Anglican who has been missionizing the United States in an effort to hurt the Episcopal Church. His inclusion is a very clear message sent to the EC that they are a target for the Catholic Church and the evangelical churches who will use whatever political power they may wield in the future to thwart her position in the nation.

This manifesto is, I believe, less a declaration of war on gay people and those with unplanned pregnancies than it is a declaration of war on other Christian faiths.

snip

This manifesto says, in effect, “We are the Christians. We are the ‘heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word’, and we alone will speak for the faith.”

Kincaid sees a clear agenda in the Declaration regarding the Kill Gays Bill in Uganda and AIDs in general:

Around the globe … take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS

The situations in Nigeria and Uganda are not accidental nor unrelated to the efforts of conservative Americans. Although virtually all of the spread of AIDS in Africa is related to heterosexuality, this will be an excuse to pass draconian laws seeking to repress, incarcerate, or execute gay men and women.

In addition to being a slam against the Episcopal Church, the inclusion of Akinola announces that pogroms against gay Africans will have the endorsement of both the Catholic Church and conservative evangelical churches.

We should not expect the calls for criminal prosecution of gay people to be limited to foreign soil. Should such a fervor be fostered internationally, it is unquestionable that this will lend support to efforts to reinstate or bolster oppression here.

It is no longer a matter of curiosity that the Catholic Church has not spoken out against the Kill Gays bill in Uganda. Nor had Dr. Mohler or Dr. Dobson. Nor, indeed, has any signatory of this document.

From Newsweek:

Addressed not only to Christians, but to President Obama, Congress, and civil authorities, the treatise will be available online for individuals to sign as well. When asked whether nonpayment of taxes would be an acceptable form of protest, George, who is also a lawyer, said he was currently representing a West Virginia taxpayer who is refusing to pay the small percentage of her bill that might go toward state-funded abortions (“Litigation is still pending,” said George). Institutions were also called on to participate in the civil disobedience if, for example, if a Catholic hospital is under pressure to provide services that go against Catholic beliefs. Although conscience protections do exist for many institutions already, there are areas, cited on Friday, such as when the Catholic Charities of Boston halted adoption services, rather than comply with state law and allow children to be adopted by homosexual couples.

According to the Declaration, “We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of our brothers and sisters at every stage of development and in every condition.” Yet similar documents, such as last year’s Evangelical Manifesto, have been unveiled with great fanfare butlittle consequence. Civil disobedience, especially giving up a job, is a lot to ask in the current economy and is a hard notion, even for some signers of the Declaration.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council tells NEWSWEEK the point of the Declaration is really to avoid mistakes of the past, such as when religious leaders did not stand up early enough against no-fault divorce, which he says led directly to the breakup of families and high divorce rates. “I’m a former police officer, and I have hard time with civil disobedience, but if it comes to the point where our religious liberty is at risk, I’d not only participate but would encourage people to resist.”



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1 Comments:

Blogger The Crap Blog Detective said...

Don't you realize that there are enough people to hate in the world already without your working so hard to give us another?

November 21, 2009 at 1:55 PM  

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