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'Manhattan Declaration': SPLC-certified hate group comes out of its Sheldon

by Jeremy Hooper

In the days since it was unveiled, the folks behind the so-called Manhattan Declaration have added a handful of signatories to their list of supportive religious leaders. This one, in particular, struck us as interesting:

Rev. Louis P. Sheldon
Founder and Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition (Anaheim, CA)

List of Religious Leaders Signatories [Manhattan Declaration]

Why? Well, because as you may or may not know, Mr. Sheldon's group is one of only eleven organizations in America whose rhetoric is overheated has been enough to earn the Southern Poverty Law Center's anti-gay hate Sheldongroup designation. In recent months, TVC has accused President Obama of hating America, dishonored the 9/11 anniversary by Photoshopping a smiling Obama over images of the burning World Trade Center, repeatedly accused proponents of LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation of supporting pedophilia, and gone so far with their anti-gay detestation to suggest that sodom laws should be back on the books. In terms of extremist rhetoric, Lou Sheldon may not be in the same ballpark as Fred Phelps, but they could certainly see each others' scoreboards!

And what's weird is that the "mainstream" social conservative groups and personalities almost never show any credit or link love to TVC/Sheldon. They have mostly confined him to the fringe "other" group, alongside another SPLC selections like MassResistance or Paul Cameron's Family Research Institute. So why would they let Lou onto this, a credibility-seeking document that is meant to hide rather than solidify their hostilities? Especially as a late entrant?

We don't know. But then again, we didn't raise the questions -- Team Morality™ did. And if groups like Focus on the Family and NOM want to turn this into their movement's new clarion call, then they should probably "explain" when and how they pick the times that they stand with their fringe partners, and why their self-described manifesto is somehow less hateful than its most over-the-top signatories.

**SEE ALSO: Fred Karger discusses one notable omission from the list:

"There are NO MORMONS on the list, and several of us read it very carefully."
Manhattan Declaration -- Who Are They Kidding? [HuffPo]

**UPDATE: Do you know how Lou Sheldon first came into anti-LGBT prominence? Well, we do. He was the executive director of the intensely nasty (and ultimately defeated) Briggs Initiative:

Screen Shot 2009-12-01 At 11.50.25 Am

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Your thoughts

In response to a direct question from Hugh Hewitt during Hugh’s show Monday, Nov. 23, Chuck Colson said that the Declaration’s drafters did not invite Mormons or Jews to join in their efforts because of the doctrinal differences between those faiths and Creedal Christianity.


So, Mormons and Jews were kept off on account of doctrinal differences. Got it. Does that mean that Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Evangelicals are suddenly on the same page, doctrinally speaking, Chuck?

Posted by: LdChino | Nov 30, 2009 9:07:29 PM

Hey Fred, no fair!!

I noted the lack of Mormons a full 10 days ago. I see it as evidence that this Manhattan Declaration really isn't about marriage or abortion at all.

I said:

***This manifesto is, I believe, less a declaration of war on gay people and those with unplanned pregnancies than it is a declaration of war on other Christian faiths.

One absence that seems to confirm this alliance is a denomination that one might have expected to be quick to affirm its commitment to the right to life and protection of the family. But there are no representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). The exclusion of this church, considered by most conservatives to be “NOT Christian”, suggest that this manifesto has less to do with social goals and more to do with Christian definition.

This manifesto says, in effect, “We are the Christians. We are the ‘heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s word’, and we alone will speak for the faith.”***


Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Nov 30, 2009 9:10:41 PM

OOps, Timothy, sorry I didn't include your link. Got lost in the Thanksgiving hubbub

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 30, 2009 9:27:51 PM

Mormon-owned Deseret News: Religion in politics getting tiresome


David Frum piles on: If there's a test for conservative identity that excludes Mormons, it's not a good test.


Posted by: LdChino | Dec 1, 2009 1:26:15 AM

Thanks Ld Chino

That fits well with my conclusion that this declaration is all about defining who is and who is not "Christian". Interestingly, unlike most schismatic fights in the past, this is not about doctrine at all but rather about which denominations are adequately conservative in interpretation and social interference.

Those who are theocratic find common cause, even in widely diverging doctrine.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Dec 1, 2009 1:56:21 PM

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