Pew Research is trying to understand why more and more Americans, when asked about their religion are saying, "none of the above." Part of the reason is because people are leaving the church. They don't like the organized religion. Those individuals haven't lost their faith in God, they simply lost trust in the church. Another group has decided that the faith they were raised in isn't correct. They aren't sure what is right, but they don't think the church has the answers. And the third set, the smallest of these three groups, are the atheists. These are people who not only don't believe in the church, they don't believe in God or any deity at all. In 2007, that group was about 4% of the population. Today it's about 7% and rising. I'm not going to try to change the minds of people who don't believe in God today. I personally feel that conversation is more appropriate in a one on one setting rather than a mass blog post. But, what I do want to convince you of is that whether you believe in a deity or not, it is in your best interest to vote for people who do. That may seem counter intuitive, but it's true, and I can show you why.
The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of America. It lays out the legal reasoning for why we were allowed to separate from Great Britain in the first place. The Constitution, the supreme law of the land wouldn't exist if the Declaration hadn't ever been written. Not only does the Declaration state why we should be allowed to leave, it also lays out the reasoning about why governments exist, what their proper role is, and whose responsibility it is to establish a government.
I know you've heard these passages before. But, there is deep meaning in each line that still applies to your life and your freedom today. It's not just something to be recited by school children. It's an explanation to you about where your rights and freedoms come from and what your responsibilities are. So, here is the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.
There are several critical points here. First, it was obvious to the Founders that we are each created; that we don't just happen on accident but that there is an intent behind our existence. Second, all of our rights, not just life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but all of our rights are given to us by the being who created us. They refer to that being as the Creator. Third, those rights cannot be taken away. Period.
Ok, keep those point in mind. I'm going to circle back to them in a minute.
The second sentence of the Declaration continues. Life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are not the only things that were self-evident, or obvious to the Founders. The list continues. These other things are also self-evident.
There is a lot in there and it's all important to your life today. Let's unpack it a bit. The top part lays out the legal justification for why government exists in the first place. What is the only job of government? The answer was obvious to the Founders. It was self-evident! The only job for government is "to secure these rights." The only job that government has is to ensure that every person has full access to the inalienable rights granted by the Creator. The only job of government is to make sure that you personally have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's it. That's why governments are instituted among men.
Where does government get the power to secure those rights? From the people. Where do people get their power? From their individual liberty. And where does that come from? From the Creator. So, ultimately, government gets its power from the creator as well, it's just filtered through the consent of the governed.
This is deep, deep stuff, right?
Now, what happens if government, any government doesn't do its job? What if instead of securing those rights, government denies those rights? What then? Then, the people have the additional right to alter or abolish that government and form a new one. Notice, they don't have the right to eliminate that government and replace it with anarchy. No, the Declaration clearly states that if one government is taken down, a new one must be built in its place.
Now, you know we did that process once. When we declared our independence from Great Britain, we were abolishing a form of government that had become destructive to the rights of man. But, we actually did that same thing again. See, the first government we formed wasn't based on our current Constitution. It was based upon the Articles of Confederation. But, the Articles weren't working. They too were becoming destructive. So, the Founders abolished it and replaced it with a new government, the Constitution. They thought that government structure would do a better job of securing our inalienable rights, effecting our Safety and Happiness. The reason our constitution exists is because the Declaration of Independence, our first legal document, says we had to right to alter or abolish a previous form of government in the first place.
We've also used our rights to alter our government as well. Every single Amendment to the Constitution is an alteration. There are currently 27 Amendments to the Constitution. That means we have altered this particular government 27 times.
We still have those rights today. We still have the right to alter or abolish our government if it becomes destructive to our rights. Keep that in mind.
Ok, so what does this all have to do with voting for someone who believes in God. Don't we have separation of church and state? Doesn't the First Amendment, the very first alteration to this government say that government can't establish a religion? If government can't establish a religion, then why do I have to vote for someone who is religious to protect my rights? Because there is a difference here between theology, and philosophy.
The Creator mentioned in the Declaration of Independence isn't based upon revelation, it's based upon reason. I just finished reading a really interesting book by Kevin Seamus Hasson titled, Believers, Thinkers and Founders. In it, he makes the argument that the Founding Fathers didn't just believe in a God because of their religion. Rather, they knew there was a God because of reason.
The Founding Fathers were students of philosophy. About half of them had been to the young colleges established in the colonies - Harvard, William and Mary, and others. There, they read and debated the works of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and Isaac Newton. They knew there was a supreme being, not because Jesus or Moses said so in the Bible, but because Aristotle, a Greek philosopher who lived before Jesus was born, laid out the logic of the existence of a supreme being in his work Metaphysics.
Notice the Declaration of Independence doesn't use the name God, or Jesus, or Moses, or Yahweh, or Allah or Vishnu or Thor or Zeus or L. Ron Hubbard. It says, "Creator." Our government is not supposed to establish a religion, but it's also not supposed to abandon reason. There is a logic that's being laid out here that is critical to your continued rights. Government gets its power from the Consent of the Governed, or the people. The people get their power from their individual liberty. That liberty is an inalienable right granted by the Creator. So, that right only exists if the Creator exists.
If the Founders were wrong, and there is no Creator, then you don't actually have any rights. If a Creator didn't give us our rights, then who did? Jefferson? He's dead. He can't secure those rights for us anymore. Without a Creator, government wouldn't get its power from the consent of the governed, it would get its power from its power. The more power it attains, the more power it could grasp. That's why whether you personally believe in a Creator or not, you need to vote for people who do.
If we put people in positions of power who don't believe that our rights are granted by a Creator, any creator, then what the Declaration calls inalienable are, all of a sudden, alienable. What the Declaration declares cannot be taken away will be taken away. It has happened time and time again in other nations. It could happen here.
When you go to vote, make sure the people you are giving your consent to have not only read the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, have not only understand every part of that sentence, but who believe every word to be absolutely true with every ounce of their soul. Your ability to ever have the chance to be happy depends upon it.