Natural Rights of Freedom
Today we have lost many of the essential values and practices that the U.S. was founded upon. The Founders upheld the belief that humanity comes from God, who Himself is a free and eternal being. Every human is given the desire to be free of all artificial restraints and, in a sense, become just like the God that created them. The Founders revolutionarily transferred this belief of Natural Law into the works of government and the Constitution. Because humanity is a part (and some would say a gift) of God, humanity itself comes with certain properties, rights, and freedoms outside of the power of any legislator, government, or king.
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?” – Thomas Jefferson
We have forgotten that belief in Natural Law. So much unchecked power has since been placed in the hands of government; protecting the laws and rights of life, liberty, and property is no longer seen as the first and most important role of government. This, on its own, I see as a major departure from true morality and religion, and a most dangerous potential of things to come in the future.
What happened? We seem to believe that organized religion, not individual initiative, creates morality, spirituality, and true values. However, many of the Founders were not very active in any organized religion, as we know it. They saw religion as a platform of strong principles upon which every individual ought to voluntarily live upon, not as a bureaucracy that dictates what is right, what is wrong, and how people should live.
The problem with organized religion, and I believe the Founders recognized this, is that it starts with empowered people talking down to supposedly less knowledgeable individuals, not with individuals recognizing their roots to God inside themselves. Religion is not something to be passed down by bureaucracy; it all starts where it was initially created: inside every person. This is the basic principle that the Founders followed. When we began to follow the belief that religion comes from the top down (organized religion), we also accepted the idea that some or all of our God-given rights and freedoms come from empowered individuals higher up on the chain. It is a backwards way of thinking.
“Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches.” – Saint Thomas Aquinas
“The highest manifestation of life consists in this: that a being governs its own actions. A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing.” – Saint Thomas Aquinas
I see true religion as principles and practices that are controlled, more than anything else, by the nurturing of an individual. The Founders repeatedly wrote and spoke about how the U.S. was founded on the principles of Christianity and Jesus, not on the principles of the Church. The teachings of Jesus and the Bible would do much good for the world (and I’m sure they do in many cases), but the principles are now spewed and diluted through organized religion.
Honest religion and spirituality does not start with a group, it starts with an individual. A group can certainly support an individual, but not through grasping for power and control over an individual’s principles and morals. We are too short-sighted to recognize that religion is much more powerful on an individual level than any bureaucracy can dream to be.
“Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained by man’s own will.” – Saint Thomas Aquinas
Every individual is looking for happiness and freedom from artificial restraints, just as the Founders recognized in drafting the Constitution, supporting the Declaration of Independence, and ratifying the Bill of Rights. The Founders strongly believed that there was a higher law, a Natural Law, that starts with the individual and forms the basis of self-government.
Areas of personal religion that the Founders intended to remain an individual duty have underhandedly been transferred to the government. The Founders were adamant about personal charity, love to your fellow man, and following a strong moral bearing. Unfortunately, today we accept the notion that it is government’s role to engage in charity through various forms of welfare and special favors, an area that was supposed to be the cornerstone of individual religion and a moral nation. As we started losing touch with the power of individual morality, we attempted to transfer that power to government bureaucracies to engage in that morality for us.
A free and moral individual, citizenry, and nation, no matter how good the intentions, should never support the idea that government can spread charity by forcefully taking money from one group and giving it to another. The Founders would be appalled with these principles of government and the blatant disregard for individual responsibility to engage in basic charity and morality. When the Founders talked about a moral and religious nation, they were not talking about people going to church every Sunday. They were endlessly explaining the importance of individual religion and individual morals, untouched by the hand of government.
No matter how hard they may try, morality does not come from government, organized religion, or even a Saint. Morality and religion do not function if they are imposed on a person. True and untouchable morality, spirituality, and religion come only from ourselves when we are ready for truth – recognizing the power of love inside every one of us, the importance of personal charity, religion, and morals, and the principles of freedom and happiness from our Creator that remain inalienable to all. When we forget the principles of basic happiness, we forget the principles of basic freedom and liberty.
“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… 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.” – Declaration of Independence
“It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.” – James Madison
“Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.” – Thomas Paine
“Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be entrusted on any other foundation than religious principle, not any government secure which is not supported by moral habits…. Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.” – Daniel Webster
“(T)he propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” – George Washington
“That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.” – Patrick Henry
“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams