Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

The Struggle to Rescue Traditional Values

Signers of The Manhattan Declaration held what amounted to a pep rally for their cause last week at Columbia University. Cardinal Timothy Dolan was there for the opening prayer service to lend his support to the evening’s program, which included a host of speakers defending religious liberty, traditional marriage and the right to life.

The 4,700-word declaration, which was issued four years ago, is a strong defense of religious freedom, the dignity of all human life and the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. To date, more than 543,336 people have signed it.

For three hours, the meeting at Columbia presented speaker after speaker who explained that these traditional values are currently under constant criticism.

Alan Sears, CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom, explained, “Americans should not have to sacrifice their religious freedom, but that freedom is under assault – legally and otherwise – as never before in our 237 years as a nation. If we fail to take a stand, the God-given liberty that millions came to this country to find and that countless of our brothers and sisters have fought and died for will be just a fleeting memory.”

Sears’ Alliance has been in the forefront of offering legal assistance to defend people whose religious liberty has been challenged. Cases involving the mandate to provide health insurance under ObamaCare have been prevalent.

Three of these cases have made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and will be part of this fall’s docket. One of those cases involved the propriety of praying before a public meeting in Greece, N.Y.

Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Supreme Court in December, 2012 to review the case, noting that in the 1983 case Marsh v. Chambers, the court had affirmed the constitutionality of prayers offered according to the conscience of the speaker before public meetings.

“Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” said a statement from David Cortman, the alliance’s senior counsel. “The Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the ‘history and tradition of this country.’ America continues this cherished practice.”

Particularly impressive at the conference were the young legal scholars who presented the case for marriage.

“Marriage has huge public consequences,” said Ryan Anderson, co-author of the book What Is Marriage? He maintained that a healthy society depends on kids growing up into healthy adults, saying they have their best chance at doing so when they are raised by a father and a mother who remain faithful to each other.

Jennifer Marshall, director of domestic policy for the Heritage Foundation, added, “The case for marriage is based on sound reason that puts the rights of children above that of adults.”

There were calls for people to get involved in politics, to sign the Manhattan Declaration, to tell the stories of those who are being oppressed by today’s politics and to keep watch on government overreach.

Some may consider signers of the declaration to be right-wing anarchists but rarely could someone sit in an auditorium for hours and hear so much common sense. For many citizens, truth can still be reached through reason and faith. It has implications in what we render to Caesar and what we render to God.

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