A considerable amount of ink has been spilled and incalculable keystrokes have been made defending the proposition that ours is a nation under God – that, in the words of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.” It is as elegant a reduction of the proposition that the United States of America is NOT a purely secular republic as any I’ve ever read.
In an article posted today by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, he argues that atheists cannot be real Americans – a provocative assertion, to be sure, but one that resonates with those who understand the essence of the remarkable entity we call the U.S.A.
Nor is that essence an ineffable one: Farah correctly refers the reader’s attention to operative paragraph of the Declaration of Independence – the passage that establishes the bedrock foundation on which this republic was established:
“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; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Unalienable rights – if they are to be truly unalienable – cannot be derived from mundane temporality but must have their roots in that which transcends the empirical universe, namely, the infinite, omnipotent and omniscient Creator of that (and any other) universe: God.
The atheist objects: he tells us the derivation of unalienable rights from a Supreme Being is ultimately an act of faith, as there exists no empirical proof for the existence of the Judeo-Christian God.
This much is true. However, it is also true that, absent empirical proof God does not exist, the self-proclaimed “atheist” engages in no less an act of faith than the self-proclaimed “deist” when he declares that there is no God. Were he an honestly consistent empiricist, the “atheist” would neither accept nor deny the existence of God and properly call himself an agnostic.
That said, the extraordinary men who gave us the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution of the United States were neither atheists nor agnostics – despite what contemporary historical revisionists would have us believe. While a few of them did not subscribe to established sectarian creeds such as those manifested in the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Quaker, Lutheran, and Catholic Churches, even those few still believed in the existence of a Supreme Being and of an immutable moral law that lies at the heart of civil society.
The day before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail. He said: “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”
John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence said: “Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
Another signer, Benjamin Franklin, wrote in 1790: “Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see.”
No surprise that shortly after the Constitution was ratified, John Adams revealed the lynchpin that would determine the future success of both the Constitution and the republic founded upon it:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”
Merely electing Republicans – or even conservatives – in majority numbers will not suffice to reverse the decline of this once great republic: we the people must undergo a change of heart and soul – reviving in ourselves the morality and religion of generations past – if we, as a nation of free men and women are to endure on the face of the earth.