As Thanksgiving Day approaches, it is good not only to be grateful for God's blessings, but also to take action to protect them.
Charles Colson and James Dobson are promoting "The Manhattan Declaration," which is a pledge and call to protect things for which we should be thankful. The Declaration begins with a list of these things:
Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God's word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.
While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire's sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.
After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the 16th and 17th centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce's leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.
In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.
This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes - from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.
Libertarian scholar Thomas E. Woods has described these and many other things for which we can be thankful in his book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization -- a book which Protestants can enjoy as well. Alvin J. Schmidt did the same thing in his book, How Christianity Changed the World. Likewise, Rodney Stark is thankful for The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. Easier reading is Kennedy and Newcombe's books, What if the Bible Had Never Been Written?, and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?
We should be thankful for what we call "Western Civilization," which is really Christian Civilization, and one way of giving thanks is doing something to preserve civilization, and a worthwhile example is to read and sign The Manhattan Declaration.