And what is the foremost ideal, principle or value of America? The very first one mentioned in The Bill of Rights, the very first amendment to the Constitution: freedom of religion.
That is unique in history. That is a radically new form of theocracy—both new and better. It is fundamental for the future of freedom—your freedom. It empowers people rather than suppresses them. It is an advancement in establishing a God-centered society beyond even that which our Pilgrim forefathers intended, which was a theocracy, a Holy Commonweal of the elect. Understanding the magnificence of our Founders’ achievement is critical for the future of freedom here.
The Pilgrims were separatists; they separated from England in order to set up a society in which God, not the King, was head of state. “No king but God,” they said. Yet for all the debt of gratitude we owe our Pilgrim forefathers, we must not overlook the fact that their theocracy was a decidedly narrow, restrictive one, and intolerant of divergent religious beliefs. In fact, in the case of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it was oppressive enough to send Roger Williams into the Rhode Island wilderness—fleeing at night for his life—to establish a colony more hospitable to religious freedom for all. (Williams described the religiously pluralistic society he sought as one in which “all men may walk as their consciences persuade them, everyone in the name of his God.”) He named his religious haven Providence, and the term Divine Providence would become widely used throughout the thirteen colonies. It also became one of the four references to deity in the Declaration of Independence
So understanding the magnificence of our Founders’ achievement—a theocracy based on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience for all individuals, including even those who deny the existence of God—is also critical for the future of freedom around the globe.
Although our Founders separated church and state, they did not separate God and state. How could they? The Declaration makes clear that from our beginning we have been, as our Pledge of Allegiance states, “one Nation under God.”
What follows from that theory of government is the marvelous liberty of America in which, while holding God central to it, people can worship, speak, assemble, write, travel, work, marry and live as they wish—in short, pursue happiness as they wish—so long as they do not violate another’s right to do likewise.
Yes, that marvelous liberty has been abused by some citizens. And yes, because liberty carries inherent responsibility, it requires a conscience, a sense of civic duty and a sense of respect for public decorum—in short, voluntary compliance—to live properly in accordance with our national ideals, principles and values. As Thomas Jefferson said, the qualifications for self-government are not innate; they are the result of habit and long training. But without that spiritual foundation asserting your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and without the constitutional protection guaranteeing your freedom, your sovereignty and your rights… well, renounce your American citizenship, move to a theocracy such as Talibanistan and find out for yourself what follows.
(To be concluded)