The Christian Right’s year-old “Manhattan Declaration” — a manifesto to destroy true marriage and religious liberty, replacing both with Stepford marriages and Christianist theocracy — is circulating within the conservative echo chamber again.
Fueled by a manufactured controversy in which Apple Inc. removed the broadly defamatory Declaration from its App Store, a new round of naïve or disingenuous Christian bloggers call the declaration “civil,” “graceful” and other absurdities that should be apparent to rational people who respect individual freedom, reject piety, and know the history of the declaration’s sponsors.
Starting from the top of the Declaration, let’s examine what makes the Declaration a prime example of Christian Right defamation, incivility, ill health, sociopathy, and unholy immorality.
- The declaration equates the intrinsic freedom, constitutional rights, and human dignity of sexual minorities with Roman infanticide and slavery.
- The declaration lies about longstanding conservative Christian support for slavery and racism, and further lies about the declaration’s supporters in the Tea Party and Libertarian Party — people who this week said they favor a return to Senate voting rights based on property ownership, not one-person-one-vote.
- The declaration lies about the sponsors’ opposition to women’s intrinsic freedoms and current constitutional rights. In recent months, the sponsors and numerous signers have renewed their emphatic opposition to the United Nations CEDAW convention to protect the world’s women from slavery, sexual exploitation, and discrimination. And just last month, the sponsors successfully defeated U.S. legislation to reduce wage disparities between male and female workers of equal skill and rank.
- The declaration lies about its sponsors’ commitment to stopping AIDS. Since 2004, the sponsors have increased the incidence of HIV/AIDS in countries like Uganda by working with conservative U.S. officials to deny Africans access to condoms. The same sponsors have also intentionally fostered religious and orientation-based violence across central Africa and Latvia and the United States.
- The declaration exalts “costly grace” (self-sacrifice), but ironically the declaration only demands such sacrifice from religious and sexual minorities, who are expected to sacrifice their own intrinsic rights to satisfy the insecurity and prejudice of the declaration’s privileged sponsors.
With breathtaking false piety, the sponsors blasphemously declare themselves to be speaking for the one true God and to be acting for “the good of all” by imposing their own religious heresies upon all Americans.
The declaration claims to be grounded in “Holy Scripture” but it offers almost no Scriptural support — just a half-dozen unrelated and proof-texted Bible verses displayed in small italicized print.
The sponsors then disrespect the “sanctity of human life” and “the dignity of marriage” by:
1. lying about the multiple historical Jewish and Christian Biblical definitions of marriage — definitions which the declaration is too cowardly to cite, and
2. seeking to destroy marriages that it arrogantly deems contrary to its sectarian, heretical, and unbiblical definition
- The declaration falsely contends to uphold life. For decades, its sponsors have fostered abortion and unwed pregnancy through denial of health services, contraception, and education to youths generally and to women especially.
- The declaration hypocritically equates liberal freedom and education with abortion and a “culture of death.” The real culture of death is found primarily among the declaration’s sponsors, who support antigay violence in Africa, and imprisonment, denial of medical care, and denial of government services and due process to sexual minorities in the United States.
- The declaration showcases its sponsors’ vanity and chutzpah when they deem themselves to be offering “prophetic” protection of the weak and vulnerable. In fact, the declaration maliciously harms the weak and vulnerable: the unborn, who are sickened or aborted by declaration sponsors who oppose parental sex education and health care; young adults, who suffer from the sponsors’ denial of education and health care, and who are subjected to Christian Right violence in schools; and religious and sexual minorities who are denied equal access to public services and civil institutions by the sponsors and their sympathizers who misuse their positions of authority in government.
- Because its sponsors traditionally reject community values for being too worldly and liberal, the declaration belittles the historic importance of communities, single parents, and extended relatives — not one-man-one-woman equal marriages, which are a modern phenomenon — in “sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all persons in a society.”
- The declaration scapegoats low-income demographics and sexual and ethnic minorities for the high rates of out-of-wedlock births, divorces, and family breakdown among its Bible Belt sponsors and signers. Instead of owning up to notoriously high divorce rates across the Bible Belt, the declaration defames “the poorest and most vulnerable sectors” — ethnic minorities and gays.
- The declaration accuses unnamed forces of “glamorizing promiscuity,” blaming bogeymen instead of the real causes of divorce: severe economic pressures of globalization, inflexible and unrealistic expectations between two partners, and a refusal among conservatives to teach youth healthy gender roles and relationship conflict-resolution skills.
- The declaration maliciously characterizes the social wellbeing, individual and religious freedom, and constitutional equality of sexual minorities as mere “symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of marriage.” The truth is that marriage for sexual minorities is neither symptom nor cause. The desire of same-gender couples to marry exemplifies the strength of marriage, not its erosion.
- The declaration maliciously equates homosexual relationships with polyamorous ones (though to be frank, the Bible accepts polyamory as a given).
- The declaration acknowledges public disagreement about marriage — but then proceeds to nullify the intrinsic freedoms (including religious freedom) of anyone who disagrees with the sponsors.
- The declaration superimposes its sectarian, heretical, unhealthy, immoral, and — most important — subjective definition of marriage upon what it calls the “objective” reality of marriage.
- The declaration redefines its defamation, disenfranchisement, and ostracism as ‘love (not “animus”).’
Quite simply, the declaration defames the desire of sexual minorities for religious liberty, and it reserves religious liberty solely for the declaration’s extremist sponsors. The declaration defames the conscience and threatens the liberty and health of everyone — doctors, nurses, patients, social workers, liberal and independent Christians, non-Christians, and atheists — who does not conform to the sponsors’ ideology.
That heading is missing from the declaration, but it would accurately describe the declaration’s conclusion:
The declaration calls upon self-righteous signers to flout community laws; violate the freedom, spirituality, and conscience of others; pervert history; and piously dictate one-sided malicious falsehoods. Such behavior is not civil, graceful, or particularly Christian; it does border on treason, however, and it is clearly rooted in hatred.
Why, one might ask, does the declaration resort to so many defamations and threats instead of truthful conversation?
A closer examination the Declaration sponsors reveals that they are notorious and avowed enemies of civil society. They include two of the nation’s leading racial and sexual hate groups: the American Family Association and the Family Research Council. Both organizations contend that community values, freedom, and material fact are faithless manifestations of depravity. They contend that “true” faith is manifested in a denial of real-world facts, combined with a blind acceptance of disproven myths which are mischaracterized as required religious doctrines.
Signers of the declaration follow in the footsteps of their leaders; they represent a cross-section of the violent and often-racist cesspools of U.S. and international extremism.
The signers include:
- bishop Peter J. Akinola of Nigeria, who affirms African antigay violence and leads a breakaway faction of the Anglican Communion which is defined by its hatred of sexual-minority people of faith;
- Ken Hutcherson, co-leader of the Slavic hate group Watchmen on the Walls and advocate for Christian bullying in Seattle-area schools;
- Christian Reconstructionist Marvin Olasky;
- Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that sues schools which oppose antigay bullying and faculty discrimination;
- Institute for Religion and Democracy, an ultraconservative group that — like Akinola — foments schism in denominations that do not align with conservative Republican and corporate public policy;
- anti-civil-rights activist Alveda King, a woman devoted to defaming her aunt Coretta Scott King and perverting the historic message and values of uncle Martin Luther King Jr.;
- Southern Baptist morality policeman Richard Land;
- SPLC hate-group candidate National Organization “for” Marriage;
- Coral Ridge Ministries, another SPLC hate-group candidate;
- Catholic archbishops accused of tolerating a string of child sex-abuse scandals;
- impenitent Watergate ex-convict Chuck Colson;
- obsessive child-spanking proponent and divorce apologist James Dobson;
- pro-slavery author Dinesh d’Souza; and many others.
The signers’ individual agendas are consistent with the Declaration’s intent to defame innocent people; divide communities; foment confusion and misinformation in liberal and independent churches; undermine public respect for the U.S. Constitution; and deny freedom to the nation’s religious and sexual minorities.
Since the Declaration is a sweeping defamation against millions of Americans and their freedoms, it would have been un-American for Apple not to remove the app from its store.
Conservative Christian bloggers’ renewed defense of defamation and Christian self-victimization reflect a deeper sickness of vanity, selfishness, and hate — a disease that has infected much of modern conservative Christianity.