The most recent meeting of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) witnessed not just another theological discus-sion, but the birth of an alliance that only two decades ago would have seemed improbable. Here were Catholic and evangelical theologians seeking common ground on religious liberty, an issue that has caused frequent strife between the two groups.
Now, we are standing together to defend the religious liberty of all believers, which is under assault around the world and in the U.S. Consider the Proposition 8 case, the proposed ban on gay marriage in California. In striking down the referendum, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that Christian beliefs "harm gays and lesbians." Just months later, tech trendsetter Apple picked up the same refrain in removing a Manhattan Declaration app from its iTunes store.
If Christian teaching is degraded in this way, either in the courts or in corporate culture, Christians, as well as Muslims and Jews with similar views on this subject, could soon be charged with "hate speech" for simply stating what their religious traditions have held for millennia.
ECT continues to study the serious theological differences between Catholics and evangelicals. (The last statement was on the Virgin Mary.) Such theological work is an important part of our shared witness. It allows us to make common cause on the great moral issues facing our culture, including the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, and religious freedom.
The Manhattan Declaration addresses these three. While not directly a part of ECT, the statement has been endorsed by 57 Catholic bishops in the U.S., numerous evangelical leaders, and the metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America. ...1