We Hold These Truths

A Statement Issued on Independence Day, 1997


Noted Moral Leaders in America

   We affirm before God and the law all are equal, "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." As leaders of diverse churches and Christian communities, we address our fellow citizens with no partisan political purpose. Religion and morality are not an alien intrusion upon our public life but the source and foundation of our pursuit of the common good. The great threat to the American experiment today is not from enemies abroad but from disordered liberty. That disorder is increasingly expressed in a denial of the very concept of moral truth. The bitter consequences of disordered liberty resulting from the denial of moral truth are by now painfully familiar. Abortion, crime, consumerism, drug abuse, family disintegration, teenage suicide, neglect of the poor, pornography, racial prejudice, ethnic separatism and suspicion -- all are rampant in our society. Our attention must be directed to the role of the courts in the disordering of our liberty. The most egregious instance of such usurpation of power is the 1973 decision of the Supreme Court in which it claimed to have discovered a "privacy" right to abortion and by which it abolished in what scholars have called an act of raw judicial power, the abortion law of all fifty states.

Our concern is by no means limited to the question of abortion, but the judicially imposed abortion license is at the very core of the disordering of our liberty. Our goal is unequivocal: Every unborn child protected in law and welcomed in life. We have no illusions that, in a world wounded by sin, that goal will ever be achieved perfectly. We believe, however, that democratic deliberation and decision would result in laws much more protective of the unborn and other vulnerable human lives. We are convinced that the Court was wrong, both morally and legally, to withdraw from a large part of the human community the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and due process of law.

In its stated effort to end the national debate over abortion, the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (1992) transferred the legal ground for the abortion license to an explicit liberty right under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court there proposed a sweeping redefinition of liberty, stating: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." The doctrine declared by the Court would seem to mean that liberty is nothing more nor less than what is chosen by the autonomous, unencumbered self. If the Supreme Court and the judiciary it leads do not change course, the awesome consequences are clearly foreseeable.

The Court's justification of the abortion license under its debased concept of liberty has brought us to the brink of endorsing new "rights" to doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia which threaten those at the end of life, the infirm, the handicapped, the unwanted. We are confronted by a radical redefinition of marriage as courts declare marriage to be not a covenanted commitment ordered to the great goods of spousal unity and procreation but a mere contract between autonomous individuals for whatever ends they happen to seek. Under a specious interpretation of the separation of church and state, our public schools are denuded of moral instruction and parents are unjustly burdened in choosing a religious education for their children. These are among the many urgent problems that must be addressed by a free and self-governing people. We cannot simply blame the courts for what has gone wrong. We are all responsible. A most particular responsibility belongs also to our elected officials in state and national government. Too often, Christian legislators separate their convictions from their public actions, thus depriving our politics of their informed moral judgment.

We reject the idea that ours should be declared a "Christian" nation. We do not seek a sacred public square but a civil public square. We strongly affirm the separation of church and state, which must never be interpreted as the separation of religion from public life. Knowing that the protection of minorities is only secure when such protections are supported by the majority, we urge Christians to renewed opposition to every form of invidious prejudice or discrimination. We can and must bring law and public policy into greater harmony with the "laws of nature and of nature's God." (emphasis ours)

The above are excerpts from a statement issued on Independence Day 1997. Some of the signers;

Bishop Vinton R. Anderson, African Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. Gary L. Bauer, Pres. Family Research Council

Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Dr. William R. Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ

Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, Diocese of Lincoln

Rev. Paul F. Bubna, Pres. The Christian & Missionary Alliance

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Archdiocese of Denver

Mr. Charles Colson, Pres., Prison Fellowship

Dr. James Dobson, Pres., Focus on the Family

Bishop Charles V. Grahmann, Diocese of Dallas

Mr. Donald P. Hodel, Pres., Christian Coalition

Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

Bishop John R. Keating, Archdiocese of Arlington

Dr. Richard D. Land, Pres., Southern Baptist Convention

Archbishop William J. Levada, Archdiocese of San Francisco

Adam Cardinal Maida, Archdiocese of Detroit

Bishop James T. McHugh, Diocese of Camden

Bishop John J. Myers, Diocese of Peoria

John Cardinal O'Connor, Archdiocese of New York

Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, Pres., Institute on Religion & Public Life

Dr. Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition

Dr. Robert A. Seiple, Pres., World Vision

Theodosius, Primate, Orthodox Church in America