Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration: Hateful? - Who Knew?

"Everybody knows" that Christians - particularly those Catholics over there - are backward, hateful, ignorant, and pretty much icky. "The Manhattan Declaration" is, for some subcultures, "proof" of this.

Excerpt from a sample article:
"The Manhattan Declaration- where does it lead? Church's Hate Gay Agenda"
Lez Get Real / A Gay Girl's View on the World (November 21, 2009)

"With the potential to give all Church's a bad rap, a diverse group of Christian leaders joined together Nov. 20 to declare a commitment to defend the sanctity of human life, biblical marriage and religious liberty without compromise. One hundred and fifty evangelical, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox signers said they were coming together to 'embrace our obligation' to speak and act in support of the dignity of all human beings, marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and the freedom to express religious convictions. It is imperative that Church leaders and those of faith who disagree with this, not remain silent, but provide the backlash such hate deserves.

"The 4,700-word statement, yet another reproach for the LGBT communities, named the Manhattan Declaration, asserted: '[W]e will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia...'... "
The full text of this expression of "hate" is available through one of those 'hate-filled' outfits that are trying to keep babies from being killed:
"Manhattan Declaration: A Pro-Life Call of Christian Conscience on Abortion, Liberty"


"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...."
If that doesn't seem filled with "hate" to you, you probably don't conform to contemporary America's intellectual fashions. And, aren't in favor of chaining children to machines: which was considered to be perfectly okay about a century and a half ago.

Oddly enough, support for the idea of giving workers reasonable compensation for their labor isn't generally viewed as 'hateful' by the more 'serious' thinkers of the western world - even though it's something that the Catholic Church, at least, teaches. (Article 7, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

I think that Christian beliefs are hard for members of some American subcultures to understand, because of a a few assumptions: That
  • Wack jobs are typical Christian leaders
  • Actions don't have consequences
  • Feeling like doing something means having the right to do it
Quite a few Christian groups don't accept those assumptions. And, since assumptions like this have been all the rage in some American sub-cultures for the last few decades, that puts the less fashionable Christian groups at odds with the self-described best and brightest in all the land.

I also think that there are subcultures whose members have become accustomed to getting unqualified, wholehearted, enthusiastic approval and support from America's institutions - and whose members feel hurt when they don't get it.

This sort of reaction isn't a liberal or gay monopoly. It seems to be part of human nature. I remember the fifties and sixties - and how shocked and dismayed some 'real Americans' were, when their (wacky) conservative values weren't treated with uncompromising support.

The Catholic Church Doesn't Approve of Homosexual Behavior: So We Hate Homosexuals?

The Catholic Church (and others, but I'm limiting my discussion to the faith I follow) does not approve of sexual intercourse between members of the same sex. We're also against extra-marital intercourse, and against having sex with animals. From some points of view, Catholics don't want anybody to have fun.
Just What is It, to be "Loving?"
While earning a teaching degree, several decades back, a psychology class I took taught that there were several dimensions to human behavior: including a continuum between "loving" and "controlling" behavior.

"Loving" behavior in that context meant that a person in a position of authority, like a teacher, lets those under that authority, like the students, do what they wanted to. "Controlling" behavior, again in that context, meant that the person in authority would dictate what those under him or her would do.

Being "loving" sounds real groovy, right?

I think there's something to the idea of a continuum between an authority who (tries to) control everything and one who doesn't. I also think that calling the 'whatever' option "loving" is missing some key points.

Let's say there's a teacher who notices that a student is trying to catch butterflies that nobody else can see, and has been spilling pretty colored pills all morning. Strictly applying the psych. class's definition of "loving," a "loving" teacher might allow the student to continue popping pills. And show great compassion by crying when the student died of an overdose.

A "controlling" teacher would almost certainly violate the student's freedom of choice and search for self - and point the kid toward drug rehab. Which might save the student's life. And that, according to the class's definition, isn't "loving."
'If You Really Loved Me, You'd Let Me Do Anything I Want?
In these days of (crazy, I think) zero-tolerance, it's not likely that a teacher would be "loving" toward a pill-popping teen. On the other hand, the idea that to "love" someone means to let that person engage in any behavior, no matter how self-destructive, seems to still be with us.

The Catholic Church doesn't work that way: so we're not "loving" by that psychology class's standards. I've discussed the Church's policies about homosexual behavior elsewhere. ("The Catholic Church and Homosexuals: Harsh and Soft, Judgmental and Understanding" (March 13, 2009))

About the idea, 'if you really loved me, you'd let me do anything I want' - I wonder if guys are still using that on girls and women, to pressure them into having sex? Moving along -

I know this sounds corny, but it's the old "hate the sin, love the sinner" thing.

And, as a practicing Catholic, I'm required to love people: homosexuals; politicians; the guy who cut me off in traffic; everybody. As I wrote back in March:
"...As a Catholic, I'm forbidden to hate people. It's an option, actually, but the alternative to not hating people is unpleasant:
"We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: 'He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.' Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called 'hell.' " (Catechism 1033) (emphasis mine)
"Hey! 'serious needs of the poor' - Isn't the Catholic Church Conservative?
"The Catholic Church is not conservative. It isn't liberal. It is the body of Christ, present in the world, the temple of the Living God (797), with foundations in eternity and teachings that aren't intended to fit political ideas that developed in the last century or so...."
(March 13, 2009)
Finally, another sample of the "hate" displayed in The Manhattan Declaration:
"...We acknowledge that there are those who are disposed towards homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships, just as there are those who are disposed towards other forms of immoral conduct. We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity; and we pay tribute to the men and women who strive, often with little assistance, to resist the temptation to yield to desires that they, no less than we, regard as wayward. We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God's intention for our lives. We, no less than they, are in constant need of God's patience, love and forgiveness. We call on the entire Christian community to resist sexual immorality, and at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it. Our rejection of sin, though resolute, must never become the rejection of sinners. For every sinner, regardless of the sin, is loved by God, who seeks not our destruction but rather the conversion of our hearts. Jesus calls all who wander from the path of virtue to 'a more excellent way.' As his disciples we will reach out in love to assist all who hear the call and wish to answer it..."
(The Manhattan Declaration, via
"...We have compassion for those so disposed; we respect them as human beings possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity...." Hateful?

Yes, in the sense that the document doesn't say, 'if you feel like doing something, do it.' By the standards of some American subcultures, that isn't "loving." As with so many other things, I think that seeing the Manhattan Declaration as full of "hate" requires the reader to use a particular set of assumptions.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.