"Shine Like Stars In The World" Philippians 2:15

Pastors call on Ky. lawmakers
to sign Manhattan Declaration

By Drew Nichter
News Director

Frankfort —Under the dome of the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, dozens of church leaders and state lawmakers gathered to pledge their support for the Manhattan Declaration.

At a rally last week, Frankfort pastor Herschel York led the charge in urging Kentucky pastors and legislators to sign a statement of solidarity to the document that addresses perceived cultural threats.

Released last November, the Manhattan Declaration, described as a "call of Christian conscience," was drafted by Catholic, evangelical and Orthodox Christian leaders. The document specifies three "fundamental truths" that must be defended.

They are:

  • The sanctity of human life.
  • The dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.
  • The right of conscience and religious liberty.

Just as the framers of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence
appealed to and acknowledged God as judge and creator, York said those who stand behind the Manhattan Declaration do the same.

"We’re not just saying we agree with these principles; we’re saying that we are willing to venture everything on these principles," he emphasized.

York, who is pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church and a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, organized the rally, gathering dozens of pastors from churches across denominational lines. He also called on state legislators to be present, as well as those candidates who will oppose them in upcoming elections.

York urged all who were present—lawmakers especially—to sign a notebook
affirming a "Kentucky Statement of Solidarity" in accordance with the Manhattan Declaration.

It called on signatories to unite with "like-minded Christians throughout the United States and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in proclaiming our dedication to values that cannot be violated without dire consequences to our society."

Specifically, York called upon those legislators who claim to be Christians and look to churches for their support to sign the statement.

"If they are going to name the name of Jesus and claim to be a follower of His, then they should lead and legislate and live according to those Christian principles," he said.

Legislators support pledge

In an interview with the Western Recorder days after the rally, York said the exact number of Kentucky lawmakers who signed the solidarity statement still was being compiled. However, several who were present at the rally signed the pledge and spoke out in support of it.

"If Christians who call themselves by that name in state government would stand up for these principles, we would be the most pro-life state in the union," declared Tim Moore, a Republican representative from Elizabethtown.

Sen. Katie Stine, R-Fort Thomas, encouraged Christians statewide to get involved in government and the election process.

"We must work to ensure that we have moral and just laws that elevate and enable our human beings," she noted. "We must stand for truth and liberty, recognizing that our fundamental rights are given to us not by government, but by God."

York said he invited members of all three branches of the state government to attend the rally. He did receive word from the governor’s office that Gov. Steve
Beshear would not be able to attend the rally. York said he didn’t know if that meant the governor intended to sign the solidarity statement at a later date.

However, York did call on those legislators who opt not to sign the declaration to offer an explanation why.

"What part of this statement do you have a disagreement with?" York asked. "And we have a right to know that, too—you claim to represent us, we want to know."

David Prince, pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, who spoke at the rally, said those legislators who claim to be Christians must be held
accountable for how they legislate.

"Christian values must be more than a slogan," Prince stressed, "it must be a responsibility of how you do what you do when you’re in office."

In addition, churches and pastors bear the task of upholding the moral standards espoused in the Manhattan Declaration, according to John Mark Toby.

"These are the principles that we can agree on across denominational lines, that we can come together on as brothers and sisters in Christ and as churches," said Toby, pastor of Beacon Hill Baptist Church in Somerset and Southern Baptist Convention first vice president.

"Many of the problems that we’re talking about, I believe, would go away if the church would be the church and preach the word," he added.

York said that the names of all of the individuals who signed the solidarity statement at last week’s rally will be added to the list of signatures on the Manhattan Declaration Web site.

Currently, there are more than 420,000 signatures on the document. Notable Southern Baptist signatories include: Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary.

For more information or to sign the Manhattan Declaration document online, visit www.ManhattanDeclaration.org.

Western Recorder issue date: February 9, 2010

TAKING A STAND Above: Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, signs his name, indicating his endorsement of the statement. Below: Frankfort pastor Herschel York urges pastors, lawmakers and others gathered at the Capitol Rotunda Feb. 1 to pledge their support for the Manhattan Declaration, a document drafted by Christian leaders in response to cultural “threats,” such as abortion and same-sex marriage. (Photos by Drew Nichter)