Those who sign agree to defend three specific Christian values believed to be threatened today: the sanctity of life, marriage between one man and one woman, and religious liberty. They're called to defend them to the point of civil disobedience.
Signees include 186 prominent clergy who are leaders and scholars from all branches of the American Christian faith. Eleven are from North Carolina, including Dr. Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
"Paul teaches us in Romans 13 to honor the government, and we should, even if it's a bad government. And, it demands biblically our respect, prayers and support as long as it doesn't require us to violate conscience or scripture," he explained.
The 47-hundred word document is described as a wake-up call, a call to conscience. The civil disobedience part is already playing out. Co-author Chuck Colson, a leader in the Christian right movement, says Christian organizations are losing tax exempt status for refusing to marry gay couples and medical personnel are being sued or fired for following their conscience. In the current health reform debate, many Christians are upset over the idea of using federal tax dollars to perform abortions.
But not all Christians are on board
"When you look at it at first glance, you think okay, maybe. But if you really then read the background behind this declaration it becomes obvious quickly - or it did to me - that this really is the agenda of the religious right," Dr. Nancy Petty, Pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, told ABC11.
Petty won't sign it, but Colson says it's neither political nor partisan. He calls it a moral issue that's addressed in the declaration's final statement: "We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."
"If there comes a point where scripture is violated, then at that point, as the apostle said, we have to choose between serving man and God, then man loses," said Akin.
You can read the declaration at www.manhattandeclaration.org