Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration1 is an admirable attempt to seek unity within Christianity and provide a concerted effort to declare the "sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife," to declare the dignity of all people, and promote religious liberty.  The declaration is decidedly Christian in that it affirms the triune God of the Bible and states that it is "our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness..."

It has a section on life and speaks of the tragedy of abortion and states that a "culture of death inevitably cheapens life in all its stages and conditions by promoting the belief that lives that are imperfect, immature or inconvenient or discardable."2 The signers of the declaration agree to try and roll back the license to kill the unborn.

Under the section of marriage, it quotes Genesis 2:23-24 where marriage is defined as being between a man and woman.  Marriage is the most important institution for the welfare of all people and society.  It calls for the reduction of divorce and promiscuity.

In the section on religious liberty it quotes Isaiah 61:1 about proclaiming freedom for the captives, and also Matthew 22:21, "give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."  The Manhattan Declaration promotes religious liberty as well as the right to religious freedom and expression.  It properly mentions how society is increasingly antagonistic to Christianity and promotes an increasingly amoral lifestyle, and that this needs to be addressed.

CARM most assuredly supports the spirit of the declaration.  We need unity within Christianity to fight the onslaught of moral decay that is so rampant in our society.  As Christians, we have a great deal of potential influence.  However, we are too busy pointing fingers at one another instead of locking arms and working against immorality that will eventually destroy our culture, weaken our nation, and potentially make Christianity a scapegoat for the moral failures of society.

CARM cannot sign the declaration

However, it is with sadness that CARM cannot sign the declaration for one significant reason:  it includes Roman Catholics as Christians3. If CARM were to sign the declaration, it would be inadvertently supporting the anti-Christian teachings within the Roman Catholic Church by implying that Roman Catholicism is Christian when it is not.  Does this sound harsh?  I suppose it does.  But, more important than Christian unity is the truth of God's word.  We must not sacrifice "the faith once and for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) for a can't-we-just-all-get-along type of sentiment even if the the intent is truly noble.

CARM stands for orthodoxy and fidelity to the word of God.  Therefore, we could no more sign a declaration that included Mormons as Christians any more than we could sign the Manhattan Declaration which calls Roman Catholicism Christian.

Though CARM recognizes that there are undoubtedly many truly born-again Christians in the Roman Catholic Church, it is official Roman Catholic theology that is anti-biblical.  For example, please consider the following quotes from official Roman Catholic documents.

  1. Justification
    1. "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 14).
      1. "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," (Rom. 4:3).
      2. "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).
      3. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1).
      1. CARM summation:  In Roman Catholic salvation initial justification is granted to you via baptism (Catechism of the Catholic Church par 2020; 1247), successive sacred rites (CCC 1248), not by faith alone (CCC 1815), but with service (CCC 1816).
    2. Penance
      1. "As a means of regaining grace and justice, penance was at all times necessary for those who had defiled their souls with any mortal sin... The Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, c. i).
    3. Heaven a reward for good works
      1. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere 'to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ," (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1821).
    4. Salvation
      1. " that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments," (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par 2068,
  2. Idolatry concerning Mary
    1. Mary, " her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." (CCC par. 969)
    2. "By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the 'Mother of Mercy,' the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender 'the hour of our death' wholly to her care," (CCC 2677).

Are these teachings Christian?  Not at all, and they are sufficient enough to violate the essentials of the Christian faith.  Therefore, CARM cannot sign the declaration.




  • 1.
  • 2. ibid
  • 3. Eastern Orthodox will be examined later

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.