The Manhattan Declaration is growing and recalling Christians to conscience.

It starts with this stirring and strong account.

Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of
proclaiming God’s word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting
tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and
suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of
Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the
heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing
discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly
denouncing the Empire’s sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with
reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in
Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who
died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.

After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries
preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western
culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal
edicts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries decried the practice
of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade;
evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William
Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians
under Wilberforce’s leadership also formed hundreds of societies for
helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to
machines.

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and
successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of
governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in
America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage
movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led
by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the
image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or
class.

This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last
decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and
sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa,
and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes—from providing
clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of
thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender
discrimination.

Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today
are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the
intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good.
In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church
through service to others can make a profound contribution to the
public good.

And that’s only the Preamble.

The Declaration on Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty is all there,
bold and unapologetic. Clarity with charity. Firm and fixed on
restoring moral order in the temporal order.

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.

And their ranks are growing.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....