Truth, Freedom, and Religion

In the early days of the Revolutionary War one of the American generals, Nathanael Greene, expressed his desire for America to be an independent nation from Britain. His sentiments echoed that of many others of his day. Gen. Greene wrote:

“Heaven hath decreed that tottering empire Britain to irretrievable ruin and thanks to God, since Providence hath so determined, America must raise an empire of permanent duration, supported upon the grand pillars of Truth, Freedom, and Religion, encouraged by the smiles of Justice and defended by her own patriotic sons…. Permit me then to recommend from the sincerity of my heart, ready at all times to bleed in my country’s cause, a Declaration of Independence, and call upon the world and the great God who governs it to witness the necessity, propriety and rectitude thereof.” (as cited by D. McCullough in 1776, Simon & Schuster, 2005; emphasis added).

Contrary to the beliefs of many who are foes of organized Christian religions, the United States of America was founded upon religious principles and to some extent, religion. Our nation was not founded upon a particular religious sect but it certainly was never meant to be “free from” religion. There are movements that would remove any mention of religion from public discourse, especially in government. This is completely at odds with the Constitution. I recognize that Gen. Greene was not one of the Founding Fathers, per se, but his sentiments were in line with many others of his day.

Some feel justified in attacking religion in part because of a few words Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson believed in God but He did not believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. He was also critical of some of the prevailing religions of his day. He was also critical of nations that had state religions – many people in the soon to be United States were; after all, that is why many of their fathers had come to America, for the freedom to practice religion as they saw fit. Here is the problem with building so much on Thomas Jefferson’s few sayings and writings that were critical of religion – Thomas Jefferson was merely one of the Founding Fathers. He was very influential, he wrote the Declaration of Independence and was involved in the framing of the Constitution, but he was only one voice out of many. But here is the more important issue – Thomas Jefferson did not write the Constitution; James Madison wrote most of it. A number of other men had their input (and all states’ representatives had to ratify it) but it was largely written by Madison.

John Adams, who was very religious, and Thomas Paine, who was deist like Jefferson also had a lot of input to the Constitution. In any case, none of the Founding Fathers were atheist. Those who were critical of the religions of their day grew up in a time when there was little religious freedom. America was in practice the only ‘civilized’ place on earth where there was relative religious freedom. Some religions had become oppressive and none of the Christian religions were quite like the religion Jesus Christ had established [I focus on Christian religions because at the time that was mainly what there was in America]. In light of this, the critical statements and beliefs were understandable. However, none of the Founding Fathers ever called for the abolishment of religion – most were religious, God-fearing men.

Those who would remove religion from public discourse (and even the government) would remove one of the pillars of our great nation. Religious principles played and play a large role in our government. Judeo-Christian beliefs are at the foundation of our legal system. This does not discount the influence of philosophers such as John Locke but neither should we discount the influence of Judeo-Christian principles. The Bill of Rights explicitly protects religions in the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means that just as there should not be a state religion (like there was and is in Britain) there also should not be freedom from religion. Again, religions are protected by this clause. Christian religions are the some of the staunchest defenders of liberty; a nation without religion would not be a free one.

A Plea For a Return to the Constitution

I wrote on the topic of judges before. My bias towards constitutional interpretation by justices is for them to be strict. The constitution was written by very wise men who understood what would make a strong, democratic republic nation. They set up a system of checks and balances where the legislative branch made the laws, the executive branch endorsed or vetoed the laws, and the judicial branch made sure the laws were constitutional. For many years, the judicial branch always seemed to be the weakest of the three. Now, some within the judicial have turned it into almost a dictatorship. Take same-sex “marriage” as an example. Laws (passed by a significant majority of the people) prohibiting marriage from being redefined as applying to the relationship between two same-sex individuals, were overturned by justices who believed such laws were unconstitutional according to state constitutions. In each of the three states that allow same-sex “marriage”, the laws were overturned on faulty logic and very liberal interpretations of state constitutions (I’m being generous to state that the judges were actually doing any sort of interpretation based on the state constitutions).

This new breed of judges are actively legislating, forcing states to redefine the word “marriage” to include same-sex couples. This now means that in order to overturn these unconstitutional rulings, state constitutions have to be amended by the people. It’s like the judges are stealing from the people then requiring them to buy the goods back from them at grossly inflated prices. When some of the amendments fail to pass, same-sex “marriage” advocates tout that as a great victory for them – “See! Most people support what we do.”

This breed of activist judge has usurped the power of the Constitution and given themselves the authority to create laws. Now they are in a position where redress against them is difficult because they hold most of the cards in the deck. They are unabashedly strangling our government – all in the name of tolerance and “fairness”. They look down on the people of this country and feel that they have to make decisions for us because we do not know any better. Of course, the majority of judges in our country are honorable and good people. The problem is that we have a few in certain key positions who are abusing their power and there is little we can do about it, short of amending constitutions.

For this reason, I can not vote for Obama. In the past he’s already made it clear that he wants judges selected on the basis of who can feel the pain of minority groups (it’s an admirable quality but not something that should be the defining characteristic of judges) rather than who will be able to judge according to the law. Even though Obama states he is opposed to same-sex “marriages” he would do nothing to stop them. He also would appoint new Supreme Court justices and other lower-level judges who very loosely interpret the Constitution (especially since we will likely have a fairly strong Democratic majority in Congress). We need a president who will appoint strict Constitutionalists. We as citizens need to exercise our right to vote and vote in people who are willing to uphold the Constitution with their actions and their lives. We need elected representatives and officials who can provide strong moral leadership and who can act with integrity and honesty. We need representatives and officials who will stand up for traditional values – for the sanctity marriage, for family, for freedom of and not from religion, and for fiscal responsibility. We need leaders who will return America to its place as a standard on a hill and a candle on a candlestick so that it might be a light for all nations.

To quote Barry Goldwater: “We can be freedom’s missionaries in a doubting world. But…first we must renew freedom’s mission in our own hearts and in our own homes…. Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for Divine Will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom…. It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don’t rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression — and this is hogwash.” (Source).

We need freedom from tyranny abroad and at home. The judges who taken upon themselves legislative roles are acting as tyrants and we must not stand for it. We as Americans never have for any great length of time. It is time to stand up and say, “Enough! We’ll have no more forcing the will and morals of a small minority on the will of the majority.” We must reject activist judges and those who would appoint them; we must elect those who will strive for a stronger democracy and not a stronger aristocracy.