In an editorial published yesterday, the Los Angeles Times strongly condemned the anti-gay Manhattan Declaration, calling it “irresponsible and dangerous” and warning that the document may embolden anti-abortion terrorists.
The impression left is that the legal environment in which churches must operate is reminiscent of the Roman Empire that threw Christians to the lions. Never mind that advocates of same-sex civil marriage and legal abortion have made significant concessions to believers or that religious groups have recourse to courts, which have aggressively protected the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, exempting believers in some cases from having to comply with applicable laws.
This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don’t like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men — even holy men.
Meanwhile Bill O’Reilly complains on Townhall that the “secular media” has given the Manhattan Declaration little attention and wonders “are people of faith as upset as some of their leadership with the secularism of America?”