The Declaration of Independence is the most important document in American history because it created the United States. Most of the document is a list of grievances against King George III that our Founding Fathers resolved justified our separation from Great Britain. However, the first two and concluding paragraphs are particularly important because they establish the philosophical and political foundation of the nation, and the Declaration of Independence sets that foundation upon the Judeo-Christian truths that God is the Creator, the Law Giver, our Providence, and the Supreme Judge of the World.
The first truth is God created man in his own likeness and image, endowing each of us with a free-will and the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our human and civil rights come from God and cannot be taken away or infringed upon by the government. Because we are all equal in the eyes of the Creator, we are all equal under the law of man. Every human being is an independent moral agent entitled to live their life free from the intrusion or oppression of a ruling class. Our Founding Fathers embraced this truth and created a nation in which the rights of the individual supersede the power of the state.
The second founding truth is God is the author of the Laws of Nature and the Natural Law. The Laws of Nature are the laws of Physics, Chemistry and Biology that create reality and govern everything from the orbits of the planets to the cycle of procreation, life, and death. The Natural Law is the understanding of right and wrong inherent in every human being that governs their conduct and that of the societies they create. The Laws of Nature are revealed by the Creator through the human intellect and form the basis of what we call science. The Natural Law is revealed by the Creator through his divine presence in sacred scripture and in the human intellect and forms the basis of what we call morality and justice. Both the Laws of Nature and Natural Law are eternal and immutable, meaning they exist and apply everywhere in the Universe, and cannot be changed. Man’s Law is created for the betterment of human society and must flow from the Laws of the Creator. No human law can be considered moral or just unless it is rooted in the Law of God.
The third founding truth is God is our Divine Providence. He is the all-knowing and all-powerful force that sustains and directs the evolution of the universe in a beneficial and benevolent manner. God is the source of all goodness, the well of infinite mercy from which we draw direction and purpose. Our Founding Fathers understood that the United States could not survive or flourish without the constant assistance and intercession of the Creator, and to that end they created a nation that was dedicated to, and dependent upon, the freedom of religion and the right to worship God.
The fourth founding truth is God is the Supreme Judge of the world. In the Declaration the Founding Fathers appeal to God as the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions. It is an appeal and submission to the will of God. They understood that the new nation they were creating would be subject to the scrutiny and judgment of the Creator, and it was their hope and prayer, that God would view their separation from Great Britain as morally just, and bless their efforts, because they understood that whatever was contrary to the will of God, could not endure.
These four Judeo-Christian truths are the philosophical and political cornerstones of the United States. Our Founding Fathers created a nation and formed a government for a people of faith. As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Obviously, a society of immoral people cannot survive, but why did Adams insist that America was created for a religious people?
Up until the American Revolution, human history had been the continuing saga of the few, ruling the many. An aristocracy or permanent ruling class imposing their will upon the masses. The objective of government was to rule, to force compliance, and above all else, to maintain the status quo. Our Founding Fathers rejected this practice and created “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” The idea of self-government, the notion that a people could govern themselves is what is so truly revolutionary about the American Revolution. America has no aristocracy or permanent ruling class because the power to rule resides with the people.
How can a people be trusted to govern themselves? What will constrain them? What authority will regulate and limit their use and abuse of power? That authority according to Adams and the Declaration he helped draft, is the same authority that creates us equal and endows us with our inalienable rights. That authority is God.
A truth is not a belief or an opinion, it is a truth, something that is true because it is true. It cannot be debated, argued, modified, or compromised, it can only be accepted or rejected. Our founding truths are religious truths that can only be accepted and embraced by a religious people. Our country is built upon Judeo-Christian truths that acknowledge the authority and the supremacy of the Creator. Our country is dependent upon that Creator and upon a people who willingly submit themselves to his authority. Our system of government is wholly inadequate for any other type of people.
For the majority of our first two centuries, the United States was a nation of religious people. As recently as 1960, ninety-seven percent of the population claimed some type of religious affiliation. That does not presume that everyone either practiced their faith or devotedly followed their tenets, but by all objective measures, America was a Judeo-Christian nation. Today however, only about seventy-five percent of the population claims a religious affiliation, and the number that practice their faith by regularly attending worship services is only about thirty-seven percent. So, if it is not already, America is rapidly becoming a secular nation.
What will that look like? What will happen if America becomes a secular nation?
Since secularism rejects the truth of the Creator there would be no such thing as inalienable rights because inalienable rights come from God. They cannot come from the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any other secular authority because those things can be amended and changed and are always subject to the interpretation of men. If there is no Creator, there are no inalienable rights, and by default the state becomes the authority that can either grant or take away our rights. In a secular society the rights of the citizens come from the state, or more accurately those who control the state, the political class, the permanent bureaucracy, the wealthy and powerful.
The nullification of our inalienable rights would lead to an erosion of civil liberties because freedom makes people unruly and difficult to govern. That of course, threatens the people in power, and people in power will always do whatever is necessary to maintain their power. They might create a cancel culture to regulate speech and silence opposition to their authority. They would intimidate those who challenge their policies into compliance by forcing employers to fire them and deny them the right to earn a living. They would corrupt the press and use it to bolster their position and spread their propaganda. They might even use a public health crisis as the pretense for restricting people’s movement, stifling their freedom of assembly, and closing their houses of worship.
In a secular state the Natural Law would be replaced by the imperfect and often immoral law of man. There would be no divine presence in the human intellect or sacred scripture to rely upon. The Ten Commandments would no longer be the guiding determinant of what is right and wrong. That would be subjective, a function of the human ego and the will to enforce it. Life would no longer begin when God created it, but when human opinion determined it was convenient. Even the immutable Laws of Nature would be challenged. People would be free to disregard reality and create their own alternate reality. Even the laws of biology could be denied allowing one’s self-perception instead of their chromosomes to determine their gender. Then the power of the state could be brought to bear to force everyone else to accept that alternate reality, and there would be no higher authority or law giver whom to appeal.
There is no equality in a secular state because there is no God to create everyone equal, and equity, the redistribution of wealth as opposed to the promotion of equal opportunity becomes the function of the state. There is no equality under the law and no equal application of justice because everything is relative to who you are and how much power you wield. Without a Supreme Judge of the World to determine right and wrong there are no absolute moral standards. Ethics become situational and an individual’s intent rather than their actions become the criteria on which people are judged. Even rioting, looting and arson become acceptable forms of public expression if they are well intentioned.
Has the United States become a secular state? That remains to be seen, but without question there are powerful forces working to “fundamentally transform” the nation. The reasons why we must change are somewhat vague, but apparently, a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, is systemically racists, and a meritocracy that rewards people based on the contributions they make, is inherently unfair. And although these change agents are incapable of explaining what the New America should look like, they know with absolute certainty that it is time for the Old America, the one based on Judeo-Christian truths, to change.
What is so bewildering is that the people who are advocating for this “fundamental transformation” already have the power to make that change. If Congress wants to clean up corruption and eliminate crony capitalism, they can limit their own terms and set up publicly funded elections. If Silicon Valley wants to promote the freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas, they can breakup their own monopolies and stop censoring people. If Wall Street really wants to promote human rights, they can stop doing business with countries that put people in concentration camps. It is still unclear just what type of America these advocates envision but based on the agenda they are promoting; it appears to be some form of secular-socialism. However, America was never designed to be either secular or socialist, and that of course is the biggest obstacle they face in “fundamentally transforming” the nation.
The United States is a Constitutional Republic with a free market economy. It promotes individual liberty and freedom by decentralizing political power and delegating it to the States, and more importantly, to the people. Its detractors claim that the Free Enterprise System or Capitalism, is inherently unfair and inequitable because it creates a society in which the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. The truth is that no economic system has promoted more freedom, created more wealth, and lifted more people out of poverty than the American Free Enterprise System. However, it is not immune from human corruption. If the central government becomes too powerful it will inevitably abandon the needs of the common citizen to cater to the desires of the wealthy and influential. The check on this corruption is a citizenry that is well informed and actively involved in their own self-government, and a free press that monitors the workings of governments and fairly and truthfully reports on its activities.
Socialism is a political and economic system in which the means of production are controlled by a central administrative authority. There is no private property or private enterprise because the government owns and controls everything. The promise of Socialism is that it is more equitable because everyone receives a “fair” share. The citizenry need only surrender its right of self-government and the bureaucracy will administer its duties in a just and fair manner. However, history could not be clearer; it does not work. The same human corruption that infects Capitalism infects Socialism. Those who refuse to learn from history and continue to promote Socialism are blinded by their ambition to rule and the certainty of their own infallibility. Socialism is a return to the few, ruling the many, and is not suitable for a free and independent people.
Corruption infects every political and economic system because its inseparable from the human condition. There are always people who believe that they a better than others, not simply better educated or more intelligent, but better people, more virtuous, and therefore better suited to rule. This has always been and always will be the single greatest threat to liberty and freedom. The threat has always been there, but it metastasized around the turn of the twentieth century with the emergence of the progressive movement and the birth of big government. We now have a permanent political-class that uses identity-politics to pit the American people against themselves to divide and conquer. They strive to convince everyone that they are victims of some oppressed group, and that they need the federal government to be their advocate. They promise that if we just give them more money and power, they will solve everyone’s problems and take care of everyone from cradle to grave. That is the big lie that they have been selling for the past 60-years, and the lie that we have unfortunately been buying. Secular-socialism is destroying the country enabling the ruling class to become more entrenched and powerful as we the people become poorer and less free.
It is ironic that the “woke” progressives view our descent into secular-socialism as progress when the most significant and meaningful advancements in American society have come after periods of spiritual and religious revivals known as the Great Awakenings. The First Great Awakening occurred around 1740 and sowed the seeds of democratic thought that led to the American Revolution. The second Great Awakening occurred around 1850 and led to the rise of the abolitionist movement and the end of slavery. The Third Great Awakening occurred around the turn of the twentieth century and helped usher in the labor movement and women’s suffrage. And the Fourth Great Awakening occurred in the 1960’s coinciding with the civil rights and women’s rights movements. It appears that America moves forward when it comes back to God, but sadly that is not the direction we are heading.
Today, for the first time in our history less than fifty percent of our population belongs to a church, mosque, or synagogue. We are moving down the path of secular-socialism away from Divine Providence and the source of our greatness. Andrew Reed and James Matheson, two English ministers who traveled to the United States in the 1830s wrote that, “America will be great if America is good. If not, her greatness will vanish away like a morning cloud.” Our Founding Fathers understood this truth and created a nation dependent upon the freedom of religion and the right to worship God. This is what John Adams was referring to when he talked about a “moral and religious people.” America cannot be great if she is not good, and she cannot be good without God.
Not since the Civil War has the country been so divided. We are allowing ourselves to be balkanized into identity tribes and manipulated by a corrupt and incompetent ruling-class. Yet, we continue to believe that there is a political solution to what ails us. That if this candidate or that party gets elected, they will be able to turn everything around. That is not going to happen because the root of our problem is not political, it is spiritual. We are not going to find the solutions to our problems at the poles, we are going to find them, in the pews. We have abandoned the Judeo-Christian truths which created the greatest nation in history and until we return to them, we will continue our descent into secular-socialism and closer to the end of America.