When the First Continental Congress convened in September 1774, the proposal that Congress start each day with a prayer was met by a firestorm of debate. None of the members objected to praying. What they debated was who should lead the prayer. There were Episcopalians, Quakers, Anabaptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists, each with their own denominational preferences. Finally, the patriot and agitator Sam Adams stood up and said, “I am no bigot. I can hear a prayer from any man of piety and virtue, who, at the same time, is a friend to his country.” That settled the debate. The next day, Episcopal Minister Jacob Duche opened Congress with a reading of the 35th Psalm, and an invocation that John Adams said, “filled every bosom present.”
Although the original settlers came to America seeking religious freedom, not everyone was as tolerant as Sam Adams. Massachusetts exiled Roger Williams and Anne Hutchison to Rogues Island; for their religious beliefs, and Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence was barred from public office in Maryland, because he was a Catholic. Religious freedom was not something that was innate to America. It evolved over time, finally securing its position of importance with the passage of the First Amendment.
Today, a new bigotry threatens our religious freedom. It is the bigotry of the secular-progressive movement that is attempting to remove God from the public sector. They insist that the acknowledgement of a divine creator by the government breaches the wall of separation of church and state that Thomas Jefferson advocated, and infringes upon their right of non-belief. It is a dangerous and potentially fatal argument that threatens the liberty and freedom of all Americans.
Thomas Jefferson never believed that the public acknowledgment of God constituted the establishment of an official state religion. Jefferson, unlike most of his contemporaries, was not a traditional Christian, he, by his own admission belonged to a sect of himself. He embraced the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but rejected the divinity of Christ. However, he believed in a Divine Creator, and based the foundation of the United States on the premise that there was a Supreme Being, who is the ultimate moral authority, and source of all human rights. Jefferson was so certain that God endowed us with our inalienable rights that he referred to it as a self-evident truth in the Declaration of Independence. Of course, the validity of Jefferson’s truth is dependent upon whether or not God actually exists.
If God does not exist, then there is no higher moral authority to endow us with anything; our inalienable rights are an illusion. Secularists could argue that our rights don’t require the existence of God, that they are something that can be derived by a social contract between the people and the powers that govern them. This is true; in fact, it is the traditional means of establishing human and civil rights. The Magna Carter and Communist Manifesto are examples of such contracts. The danger is that regimes change. The benevolent leader who initially granted the rights could be replaced by someone not so benevolent. The government could default on the contract taking away or limiting the people’s rights and freedoms, as King George III did with the American Colonies, and Joseph Stalin did with the Russian people.
However, if God does exist, one can make the case, as Jefferson did, that our inalienable rights come from God. There are some very pragmatic reasons for supporting this truth. Most importantly, it guarantees and protects an individual’s rights and freedoms from encroachment or suppression by the state. The argument being; since my rights come from God, only God can take them away, and no human being or human institution has the authority to infringe upon, or take my rights away from me. This is the essence and brilliance of Jefferson’s self-evident truth. The secularists that seek to remove God from the public sector undermine this truth, and jeopardize the protection it provides the people.
Atheists and secularists that insist God be removed from the public sector because the acknowledgement of God, somehow forces a belief upon their non-belief are hypocrites, because they in the absence of proof are asserting that it is a fact, that God does not exist. Who is right and who is wrong in the debate to maintain or remove God from the public sector, is dependent upon the evidence that God exists. What then is the evidence of God’s existence?
The body of evidence that supports the existence of God is the universe. Creation itself is the evidence one can use to either to support or reject the existence of the creator. There are hypotheses that can explain the creation and evolution of the universe without a creator, and hypotheses that require a creator. There is no definitive proof that God either exists or does not exist. The universe is either a product of some cosmic accident, or is here by design, the product of some purposeful intent. How one interprets the evidence is a matter of choice, and subsequently, a question of faith, and a belief system. In other words, non-belief is still a belief system, and those who seek to remove God from the public sector, are forcing their non-belief upon those who do believe.
I am no bigot. I respect the right of secularist and atheist not to believe. I have not and never will force my beliefs upon another individual. However, I am no fool either. I want to guarantee that my rights, and the rights of my non-believing brethren are protected from the infringement and suppression of the state. For that reason, I am going to continue to insist that my government publicly acknowledge the existence of the Creator, and the truth that my inalienable rights come from God.