Anyone remember the Manhattan Declaration, that “call of Christian conscience” released in late 2009 by a coalition of leading conservative Christians? It asked Christians everywhere to “take a principled stand on the three critical moral issues of our time: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of traditional marriage, and religious liberty” by signing the declaration online.
A November 20, 2009 article in The New York Times about the Manhattan Declaration in part read:
The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush … .
They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage.
Within a month of its launch hundreds of thousands of Christians had signed the Manhattan Declaration. As of today 526,167 Christians have signed it. The declaration’s Facebook page boasts 106,000 members.
The Manhattan Declaration matters. It surely mattered when it first came out and immediately exploded. Conservative Christian leaders and their associated political advocacy groups were afraid they’d be neutered in an Obama administration. The success of the Manhattan Declaration was their protective cup. It kept their power intact. For Christians who want abortion and gay marriage to be or remain illegal, the Manhattan Declaration was, and is, the greatest thing since hair spray.
We on the Christian left are good at a lot of things. When it comes to making a movement to consider a resolution to contemplate forming a committee with the purpose of exploring the possibility of moving ahead with a tentative plan to commit to the idea of ever actually saying anything whatsoever, we rock. We also host very pleasant wine-tasting parties.
What we tend not to do so well, however (unlike the right), is to speak with one voice.
Yesterday I launched a Change.org petition, Christians: Affirm that same-sex relationships are not inherently immoral. As of this writing that petition has been signed by 726 Christians.
This is an election year. If a petition calling upon Christians to affirm LGBTQ people is signed by not hundreds, but rather hundreds of thousands of Christians, then the entire conversation around the gay issue changes. Not maybe. Not a little. Not someday. It radically changes the moment that happens.
No one can ignore those kinds of numbers. It would preclude any pastor or ministry leader from (as they are wont to do) dismissing as an irrelevant minority those Christians who fully accept and support LGBTQ people. It would open all kinds of (church and seminary) doors.
The Manhattan Declaration matters. And this little petition does, or certainly can, equally matter.
The Manhattan Declaration was announced at the National Press Club in Washington by a team of conservative, fabulously wealthy, media-savvy Christian power-brokers. Those guys knew what they were doing; they did it well; and they got the results they wanted.
I’m just one guy with a blog. I can barely broker the power between my coffee-maker and the plug on the wall. If I shave it’s a big day for me. I work on a laptop so old the letters on four of its keys have worn away. Sometimes holding down my “shift” key will result in a capital letter. Sometimes it won’t.
I’m just a guy in a corner doing my thing. And per that thing, I could put up another blog post today. And another tomorrow. And in two or three days my couple of posts about my petition will be forgotten.
And what a wasted opportunity that would be!
Let’s not waste this opportunity. Let’s not let this petition disappear. Let us, once and for all, change this one particular [bleeper-bleeping] game.
And the only way that will happen is if you—you, reading this right now—help make it happen: if you Tweet, blog, Facebook your face off about it. Do that, and we can make a difference here. Don’t, and we won’t. Them’s the new rules.
And of course quickly fading into nothing is exactly what might happen to this petition. Maybe there aren’t as many gay-affirming Christians out there as I tend to believe there are. Maybe I do belong to an irrelevant minority.
I don’t think so, though. I think we Christians who fully support LGBT people just need to come together and speak as one.
I think that, by of this simple little petition, we should loudly and proudly proclaim to our more conservative brothers and sisters in Christ that we’re here, we’re pro-queer, and they might as well get used to it.