What is freedom? If a driver can be content to stay within an 8 ft lane of pavement, he can drive across the country at 60 mph. But if he feels inhibited by these arbitrary, authoritarian, traditional restrictions, he could leave the highway for the beautiful forest and get stuck in a ditch within the first 20 ft.
Freedom is not just the right or ability to do whatever you want. You would just end up with chaos. Freedom, as understood in the United States, assumed a common point of reference, everybody pretty much on the same page as to what is good and what is right.
We have been saying in the first two parts of this article that the United States attained a level of prosperity and achievement (and not just economically) far greater than any other country in the world very quickly and remained so for most of its existence because it was a Christian nation. This is not to say that everybody was a true Christian or even a believer in God, though the vast majority was, but that Christianity can also be seen as a worldview (i.e. a description of how things are and how things should be.)
We started by looking at the Declaration of Independence last time. “We are endowed by our Creator.”
Believing in a Creator is a foundational belief for the United States of America. And beliefs matter. People live out of what they believe.
There are at least three core values that come out of that belief in a Creator, specifically the Christian God.
This God is a personal God. He is not just a force that moves, but He has intelligence and personality. And just like the fact that anything that you buy comes with an instructional manual from the manufacturer, so God, our Manufacturer, our Inventor, gave to humans the instructional manual, telling us how all this works and is supposed to work.
This is the Bible, which was taught in public schools from the colonies’ first foundings in the 1600s to the middle of the 2000s (over 400 years) before it was suddenly found to be unconstitutional to do so.
A part of this instruction was the Ten Commandments, the display of which was also suddenly found to be unconstitutional in most public (government) venues. The Bible was fundamental to America. The Bible shaped the values and conduct of the American people. This notion that our country and our government cannot favor the Bible over other books of religious content is decidedly un-American.
The second core value was accountability. If you were an atheist, you could never go into politics. You couldn’t even serve on a jury. Why? Nobody would trust you. People who believe in a personal God believe that they will give an account of their life to Him after they die. If there is no God, there is nobody to answer to, so to speak. There is no inescapable Presence who sees all and knows all. The Bible lays down the rules, and it is expected that the rules will be followed (or at least attempted.) Anyone who rejected that would never be elected or even trusted.
Someone may ask: but doesn’t the Constitution forbid a religious test as a qualification for any public office? First, let me note that my point here is that an unbeliever would not be elected anyway. The voting public would not accept such a candidate. But, secondly, there is evidence from that time that requiring a candidate to affirm a belief in God was not considered a religious test. Nowadays, when everything is being questioned and reexamined, words are evaluated in modern contexts with modern issues in mind. Just as establishment of religion meant a national church then and not an acknowledgement of God as today, so a religious test was not a question of theism or atheism but one of sectarian doctrines.
The third core value is just that, a valuing, a valuing of human life. We touched on this in the last article in how this affected family life, where children were valued and not inconveniences. This valuing also extended to one’s neighbors, the other people in society. The modern ideal is that of toleration. Toleration originally meant an enduring of something unpleasant. You put up with something. Now it means to just leave alone.
The Christian rule was to love your neighbor. Now you need just ignore him. In the past, people would look out for each other. Children would take care of their parents. Now there are fewer and fewer children to do that. People would help their neighbors.
But now that God has been ruled unconstitutional, government has stepped in to fill that role. Now government is the caregiver and provider of the nation. When America believed in God, government was small. It was not needed for such things. But now that America has turned its back on God, people have turned their backs on their neighbors. It’s now the government’s job to take care of the needy.
Is that un-American? Yes. Because it is based on an atheistic (secular) worldview, but also because it destroys the prosperity our country was noted for. Taxes (federal, state, local, property, sales, Social Security, fees, etc.) consume about half of an average person’s income. Yet governments across the country are in deep debt; and the debts are paid (if at all) through borrowed money, inflation, and zero interest policies, which are all forms of hidden taxes.
A secular United States is not the United States that we were given. It is not the United States that became the greatest nation in the world. And it is not the United States that will be able to continue in the future to be that world leader.
Photo credit: Roger Smith (Creative Commons)