The story goes that Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island was one of the first in the Second Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence. Having done so, he stepped aside but remained standing by the desk on which the document lay. Some of his fellow delegates politely suggested that Hopkins, 69 years old and suffering from cerebral palsy, could return to his seat. "No," Hopkins is said to have replied. "I want to watch each man’s face as he signs."
I understand how he felt, for it’s how I feel about the Manhattan Declaration, which I had the privilege of helping to draft and signed shortly before it was made public on November 20, 2009.
It’s a manifesto that I am confident will one day stand as a signal document in American history – an honor roll of courage and commitment that will soon be recognized as a turning point for the Church, for our culture, and for our nation.
It is a call to Christians to stand resolute in support of the sanctity of life and marriage and the pre-eminence of religious freedom – and to defend these truths to the point of civil disobedience, if the encroachments of an increasingly secular government and culture make that necessary.
The Declaration has already been signed by nearly half a million Americans, including such outstanding evangelical and religious leaders as ADF Founder Dr. James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Chuck Colson, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. J.I. Packer, Jim Daly, Chuck Swindoll, as well as more than 15 Catholic cardinals and bishops, leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church, retired military chaplains, and many others.
In a day, though, when the forces of secularism press harder than ever before to suppress our faith, our Christian heritage, and even our freedom to share these legacies with our children, I wish I could watch the face of every American who finds the courage and determination to stand with us in signing this document.
My life, like yours, has its share of routine – the drive to the office, the meetings, the phone calls, the dentist appointments, the bills. But there are moments, for each of us, when we know in our heart of hearts that we are touching something bigger ... something more important that ourselves ... an opportunity or experience or relationship or decision that transcends the ordinary, day-by-day of life. For me, signing the Manhattan Declaration was that kind of moment.
I hope it can be for you, too. If you haven’t already done so, please visit the Manhattan Declaration website at http://www.manhattandeclaration.org, read this eloquent call to passionate faith and courageous witness, and prayerfully add your name to stand with us for the Truth that is eternal.
I won’t have the privilege of seeing you do it. But I hope your children and grandchildren will.