Sunday, July 03, 2005

Liberty - America's Grand Experiment




WHEN in the Course of human Events,
it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”

“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”

- The United States Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776

It seems appropriate for me on this Sunday before America’s Independence Day to focus my thoughts on religious liberty. To that end several excerpts from some of America’s founders, a great British thinker, and Pope John Paul II will follow. All quotations come from the text of Michael Novak’s “On Two Wings – Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding.”

From James Madison

“The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it.”

From Thomas Jefferson

“The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God: the responsibility to him for all the actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues – these can never be matters of indifference in any well-ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how any civilized society can exist without them.”

From the preamble of the Constitution of North Carolina

“We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence on Him for the continuance of those blessing to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution.”

From Dr. Benjamin Rush

“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without it there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

From Sir William Blackstone

“Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human law should be suffered to contradict these.”

From John Paul II in 1998

“The Founding Fathers of the United Sates asserted their claim to freedom and independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person: truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus they meant to bring into being, not just and independent territory, but a great experiment in what George Washington called “ordered liberty.”

“The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways; millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers stake the future of your republic.”

“I am happy to take note of your words confirming the importance that your government attaches, in its relations with countries around the world, to the promotion of human rights and particularly to the fundamental human right of religious freedom, which is the guarantee for every other human right. Respect for religious convictions played no small part in the early development of the United States. Thus John Dickinson, chairman of the Committee for the Declaration of Independence, said in 1776: “Our liberties do not come from charters; for these are only the declarations of preexisting rights. They do not depend on parchment or seals, but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.” Indeed it may be asked whether the American democratic experiment would have been possible, or how well it will succeed in the future, without a deeply rooted vision of divine Providence over the individual and the fate of nations.”

Today in America church bells will peal; tomorrow Americans will gather to celebrate our founding, this grand experiment in liberty. We will be commemorating an idea that not only goes back to our national birth, but also to mankind’s historical roots. Americans will celebrate this grand day knowing that in honoring liberty and those who sacrificed so that we can live as free men, we are also honoring the Great Creator of Freedom!

The grand experiment in liberty, conceived in the travail of our Revolution, has endured. It has been buffeted; it has been tested, and still it endures. It is our task now to ensure that the liberty others have sacrificed to give to us continues to sustain us and our nation in the future.

4 comments:

DEANBERRY said...

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Douglas said...

I think there is a special place in hell for comment spammers, where they have to shovel mountains of garbage with an itty-bitty shovel.

Gone Away said...

Happy 4th of July, Phil!

James Fletcher Baxter said...

Liberty, endowed in humans, is not a human experiment - it is God's.

Freedom, based on our knowledge of God's endowment and our faith in His expressed principles, is the human experiement and in 200plus years, already proven by superior results greater than any man-made government in human history.

Liberty: internal in each human being. Freedom: external in the environment as opportunity to fulfill our human nature successfully.

"What is man...?" Earth's Choicemaker Psalm 25:12 119:30, 173
Author's tests to follow...daily.

"We have the gift of an inner liberty so far-reaching
that we can choose either to accept or reject the God
who gave it to us, and it would seem to follow that the
Author of a liberty so radical wills that we should be
equally free in our relationships with other men.
Spiritual liberty logically demands conditions of outer
and social freedom for its completion." Edmund A. Opitz