Conservative Christian Leaders Vow Civil Disobedience

More than 150 leaders across a spectrum of conservative Christianity on Friday released a 4,700-word document vowing civil disobedience if they are forced to take part in "anti-life acts" or bless gay marriages. Called the "Manhattan Declaration," the six-page, single-spaced document was drafted by Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, an evangelical, and Princeton University professor Robert P. George, a Roman Catholic, and included a bevy of Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox bishops, archbishops and cardinals as signatories along with dozens of clergy and laity.

Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl is one of the signatories.

"Throughout the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required," says the document which cited civil rights icon Martin Luther King and his willingness to go to jail for his beliefs.

"Because we honor justice and the common good," it states, "we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide or euthanasia or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family."

When pressed to say what sorts of civil disobedience the writers were proposing, its originators were vague on the details at Friday's news conference during which the document was released.