Manhattan Declaration

Conservatives Say Censorship has Increased on Facebook, iTunes

Craig Parshall, senior VP of the National Religious Broadcasters speaks on Thursday, Oct. 3. RNS photo by Katherine Burgess.

Todd Starnes did not think he had violated Facebook’s community standards when he posted about “wearing an NRA ball cap, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich, reading a Paula Deen cookbook and sipping a 20-ounce sweet tea” and generally being politically incorrect.

Workers at Facebook thought otherwise, blocking the host of “Fox News & Commentary” for 12 hours before issuing an apology.

Starnes and other conservatives say the incident is part of increasing viewpoint discrimination from organizations such as Facebook and Google. They  want these new media companies to protect their freedom of speech.

Pope Benedict’s American Fan Club Full of Evangelicals

Not all Catholics appreciated Pope Benedict XVI’s staunch defense of Christian orthodoxy, traditional marriage, and life from conception to natural death. But American evangelicals sure did.

As word spread on Monday of Benedict’s resignation, many evangelicals lamented the impending loss of a powerful spokesman for their conservative causes.

“Pope Benedict XVI has exemplified moral courage and an unwavering commitment to the Gospel message,” said Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian political group.

“We honor him for his lifelong service to the Lord and his inestimable intellectual contribution to Christian orthodoxy.”

The high praise — “evangelical Benedictions,” you might say — extended beyond U.S. borders as well.

Can We Talk?

Nobody I’ve ever met likes abortion and considers it a moral good, although I’m sure there are a small number for whom it poses little if any moral quandary. Nobody I’ve ever met wants to weaken the institution of marriage, although I imagine there are a few hedonists who feel the world would be a better place if it resembled a Hugh Hefner pool party. Nobody I’ve ever met wants to deny the basic freedoms of speech, conscience, or religious faith, although most of us are more nervous about some people’s speech, conscience, and faith than we are about others’.

But as I read and reread the statement released in November by prominent Christian leaders on the sanctity of life, “traditional” marriage, and religious freedom, I realize that its framers and signers must look out at the rest of us who didn’t sign and wonder: What’s wrong with them? Are they pro-abortion, anti-marriage, and anti-freedom? And sadly, that’s a question that seldom gets asked or answered, because, by framing issues in an us-vs.-them way, declarations too seldom lead to dialogue.

If such a dialogue were to occur, the quarter-million-plus signers of the Manhattan Declaration would have the chance to learn some important things about the rest of us.

For starters, they would learn that many of us do in fact abhor abortion. But many of us do not believe that the best way to reduce it is to criminalize it. And even some who would favor criminalizing it do not believe that the approach of the Religious Right in recent decades is an approach we could support—whether on moral, political, or strategic grounds.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2010
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