UPDATED AND PROMOTED
dougindeep has responded, albeit late and after this post had already fallen off the front page but since he makes the argument that I didn’t make my point and we can’t consider the Declaration when talking about our government, I wanted the other readers and cobloggers to have an opportunity to respond… Utah
Posted on March 1, 2012 by Utah
For the past few years as I have argued that the absence of a specifically mandated religiosity in the Constitution of the United States is simply an example of the religious influence and tolerance that exists there, I have continued to consider the significance of religion and spirituality (actually the role of God) as it relates to the three enumerated concepts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I have stated before that I believe that we are mandated to have a secular government – with emphasis that the term “secular” holds the meaning that institution of government is limited to and pertains only to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual or sacred, that government is temporal and has no right to transgress into the domain of religion. I am often misunderstood as stating that governance should not include religion – that is not the case. I do not propose that “secular” means that religion should be excluded from the act of governance, only that the institution of government shall never dictate to religion.
There is a difference – governance is the act, government is the mechanism. One is intellectual, the other institutional – big difference.
I believe that I share this vision with the Founders and that the enshrinement of that vision is the specific reason for the Establishment Clause, the First Amendment to the Constitution, that states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It is clear to me that the Founding Fathers saw that God was the ultimate authority and guide and that government was to be utilized solely in the province of men, made clear by these words from the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Society has perverted the meaning of secular to mean the exclusion of God and the elevation of man to His role. In my interrogation of this paradigm, the questions that I ask myself are these:
- If one accepts a secular humanist view, does that mean that one must reject God?
- If one rejects God, how can one believe in the concept of eternity?
- If one cannot believe in eternity, can one believe that there is meaning beyond the limited span of a human life?
- If one believes that there is no meaning beyond the end of a human life, how can they understand the universal and eternal concepts of liberty and freedom?
There is a document that predates our Constitution and is largely forgotten as an article of our founding but it is significant nonetheless. It is called the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Formally known as An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio, it was passed on July 13, 1787 under the authority of the precursor to the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, by the Congress of the Confederation of the United States. The primary effect of the ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the United States out of the region south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River.
On August 7, 1789, the newly created U.S. Congress affirmed the Ordinance with only slight modifications. The Ordinance purported to be not merely legislation that could later be amended by Congress, but rather “the following articles shall be considered as Articles of compact between the original States and the people and states in the said territory, and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent….”, in effect making the Northwest Ordinance part of the Constitution.
An important aspect of that last statement is that the Northwest Ordinance cemented the concept of Natural Rights into American law. Wikipedia states that:
The Natural Rights provisions of the ordinance foreshadowed the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.Many of the concepts and guarantees of the Ordinance of 1787 were incorporated in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In the Northwest Territory, various legal and property rights were enshrined, religious tolerance was proclaimed, and it was enunciated that since “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The right of habeas corpus was written into the charter, as was freedom of religious worship and bans on excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishment. Trial by jury and a ban on ex post facto laws were also rights granted.
This statement effectively solidifies religion as part of the educational curriculum and demands that government encourage it, not ban it. There is no hint of secular humanism in this statement:
“Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
There is significance in that this statement equates religion and morality with knowledge and, in what to me seems especially important, notes that religion and morality are two thirds of what is necessary for “good government”. They clearly saw worldly knowledge as being incomplete without God (religion and morality flowing directly from Him).
[Sort of a non sequitur, but one has to wonder why certain SCOTUS justices seek wisdom in foreign laws and never seem to recognize important US precedents like the Northwest Ordinance…actually, I know why – that was rhetorical. It is because this goes completely against the post-modern, anti-religious “progressivism” that has become so de rigueur in contemporary juris prudence.]
It seems to me that if life can be construed to have no meaning or worth, then liberty also has no meaning or worth. A secular humanist view has a very selfish and self-righteous perspective that presupposes that there is only what we can accumulate during our limited lives and there is nothing that we should leave behind for those who come after us.
I cannot reconcile the idea that a person can understand and believe in the concepts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without a belief in God. Secular humanism is a mechanism for the destruction of the American Republic and by extension, freedom and liberty.
I can only reach this conclusion…yes, God is necessary to liberty.
God was necessary for the creation of the United States and is still necessary for its survival and a belief in the eternal life promised by God is necessary for the survival of liberty and people who love it.