May 25, 2020

Taking down USA’s political religion

Here in America, much emphasis is placed on our inherent rights as human beings. The idea of individuals having natural, God-given rights is ingrained into the souls of the citizens of our country.

Jefferson may have said what Americans believe best, as he was wont to do, when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “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.”

For a country that specifically denies the establishment of religion, this belief in the absolute rights of Americans has become the state religion that the First Amendment explicitly rejects. In this political religion, several roles from the Judeo-Christian heritage are reprised by American leaders and ideals: Father Abraham is George Washington, the father of our country; Moses, the lawgiver, is James Madison, the father of the Constitution; Jesus, the savior of the world, is, of course, Barack Obama.

The Ten Commandments are replaced by the Bill of Rights. The greatest commandment, love the Lord God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, is now freedom of speech, religion and the press. “Thou shalt not” is now “Congress shall make no law.”

With this has come a complete separation from reality—in the real world, the practical has been replaced by the philosophical.

Modern-day constitutionalists have taken this religion further than any of America’s founders envisioned it going. It seems that when the first Congress penned what would become the first ten amendments to the Constitution, they were filled with caveats, exceptions and “yes, buts.”

For example, the Founding Fathers did not think that the establishment clause prevented states from having established religions—a few states had official churches until well into the 1800s.

The constitutional protections for freedom of speech and of the press did not prevent the government from punishing what they saw as subversive and seditious speech—the Alien and Sedition Acts passed in 1798 were passed by many of the same people who helped write the Constitution, and was signed by John Adams, one of the most important Americans of the time.

The point is, while the men who wrote the Constitution revered it as much as the rest of us do, perhaps more, they understood that rights are not unlimited. There are rational ends to our rights. The men who enshrined free speech into the Constitution could have hardly envisioned hardcore pornography to be a stridently protected constitutional right.

Americans should stop worrying so much about their constitutional rights and begin worrying about what is right.

An oft-repeated claim is that “you can’t legislate morality.” Well, why not? What else are laws against child pornography, prostitution, polygamy, gambling, indecent exposure and the like? These acts offend the moral sensibilities of the people. That is why they are illegal.

If the moral argument works for these things, why does it not for others?

The time for another Great Awakening is upon us. If the morality of this nation is going to change, it must do so from the ground up. For we elect our leaders; if our elected officials are corrupt and immoral, the people that elected them are corrupt and immoral.

Instead of placing such an emphasis on the rights of human beings, let’s focus on the human beings themselves.

Next Story

Fighting Illini strong on both sides