As America has become more secular, it has become less free
Here’s something every honest person should recognize: As America has become more secular, it has become less free.
Individuals may differ as to whether these two facts correlate, but no honest person can deny that they are facts.
It seems indisputable to me that they are correlated. To deny this, one would have to argue that it is only a coincidence that freedom of speech, the greatest of all freedoms, is more seriously threatened than at any time in American history when a lower percentage than ever before of Americans believe in God or regularly attend church.
The United States has become the freest country in the world, the sweet land of the free, the recipient of the Statue of Liberty, the country whose flag freedom fighters around the world have often waved. This freedom was rooted in the deeply religious nature of its founding ideals. America was founded by God-centered individuals to be a God-centered country. Claims that America’s founders were mostly deists and that America was founded to be an ungodly secular society are not true.
Some of the Founders were not Orthodox Christians, that is, they did not believe in the Christian Trinity or the divinity of Christ. But none of them were deists (with the possible exception of Jefferson). The Deists believed in a Creator God who not only was not involved in his creations, but he did not even know them, let alone care. After creating the world, the God of Deists abandoned it. The God of the Deists was Aristotle’s “impassive engine”.
Every major founder (again, with the possible exception of Jefferson) believed in the God of the Bible who heard prayer, acted in history, judged people in the Hereafter, demanded ethical behavior, and without whom morality objectively did not exist. More importantly, they all believed that in order for a functioning democratic republic not to sink into tyranny, it was necessary to tie freedom to God.
Regardless of Jefferson’s view of God, he was as influenced by the Bible as all of the other founders. He and Benjamin Franklin proposed that the Great Seal of the United States represents Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt: Moses lifting up his rod to divide the sea; Pharaoh, in his chariot, submerged by the waters; and the divine pillar of fire that led the Israelites at night. The motto proposed by the seal: “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God. Jefferson and Franklin believed that freedom and obedience to God were synonymous. No God, no freedom.
The Founders linked freedom inextricably to God. This is why the inscription on the freedom bell is taken from the Bible: “Proclaim freedom throughout the land to all the inhabitants of it.” The verse comes from Leviticus, the third book of the Bible. The Founders knew their Bibles. The current generation of American adults is more ignorant of the Bible than any other American generation. And most young people know even less. I suspect most Harvard students couldn’t identify Leviticus, let alone quote any of his verses.
The bell was called “the bell of freedom” by the abolitionists. Their opposition to slavery was based entirely on the Bible. Their motivational principle, “All men are created equal,” comes from the Bible. They did not get it from the ancient Greeks, who would have laughed at such a notion.
Freedom permeates the Old Testament: The Bible begins with the story of Adam and Eve, a story about man’s assertion of his God-given freedom … the very freedom to disobey God. The main story of the Old Testament is the Exodus, a story about God freeing slaves.
For the Founders, the most obvious reason why freedom depended on faith in God was that it was only if God was seen as the source of freedom that men could not legitimately take it away. If men are the source of freedom, men can rightfully retract it. This is precisely what is happening today. Freedom is destroyed primarily by those who despise the idea that freedom comes from God.
The rule that the end of religion means the end of freedom does not mean that secularism would not be a welcome replacement for totalitarian theocracies like Iran. But ultimately that too – a secular Iran – would lead to tyranny. Wherever God is detached from freedom, freedom eventually withers. When Christianity died in Europe, it was replaced by Fascism, Nazism, and Communism.
Freedom is at the heart of the Bible. This is especially evident in America, which until now has linked its unprecedented commitment to freedom to God and the Bible. But freedom is peripheral to leftism. This is why freedom in America is threatened like never before: the foundations on which freedom rests – God, the Bible, Judeo-Christian values - are threatened like never before.
Each American coin bears two inscriptions: “In God We Trust” and “Liberty”. Every generation of Americans before the 1960s understood why. Most Americans today, including secular conservatives, do not.
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