Secularists have to be stopped. Last year, they lead a failed assault on the Pledge of Allegiance, and this year they’re going after the Ten Commandments. I believe the Founding Fathers will spin in their graves if the court sides with the American Civil Liberties Union and holds that religious symbols displayed on government property violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. For far too long, the courts have bought into the revisionist history argument that forms the backbone of secularism and disregarded the true influence religion had on America declaring its independence and establishing the current government.
Secularists are correct in asserting that Enlightenment theories were important to the construction of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. However, what secularists purposely forget to mention is even Enlightened thinkers theorized the rights of man — the rights government exists to protect — come from God. Most Enlightened theories on government sought to criticize the role of monarchs in government.
In his Two Treatises of Government, John Locke wrote that the state of nature knows no government; but in it, as in political society, men are subject to the moral law, which is the law of God. The law of God? But that’s never been communicated, right? Oh, I forgot — the Ten Commandments.
The influence of the Ten Commandments in America is unquestionable. For example, the Fourth Commandment, keeping holy the Sabbath, is the main reason why Americans are not required to work on Saturday and Sunday — the Sabbath days. Committing adultery, the Seventh Commandment, is frowned upon by society and can lead to serious trouble in divorce court. The law gives parents authority over their children in an effort to command obedience — the Fifth Commandment. Bearing false witness against your neighbor, the Ninth Commandment, in court is a serious crime.
According to Locke, we have rights to life, liberty, health and property. These are natural rights; that is, they are rights that we have in a state of nature before the introduction of civil government, and all people have these rights equally. Sound familiar? The Declaration of Independence includes a passage where the Founding Fathers assert, “(People) are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Simply put, the Founding Fathers and Enlightened thinkers agreed God gave rights to man that government should protect. They also agreed monarchial governments with divine rulers are not legitimate because they cannot protect those rights. This helps explain why the Continental Army rose up in arms against British monarchial rule. This also explains the importance of the Establishment Clause. The Founding Fathers intended for the Establishment Clause to prevent government from endorsing a national religion because religion had and can be used by man to oppress the God-given rights of man.
The Establishment Clause states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ” One only has to look at the behavior of the Founding Fathers to understand they meant for the Establishment Clause to protect freedom of religion, not what the secularists campaign for — freedom from religion.
Shortly after writing the Constitution, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, which set guidelines for land expansion and includes the passage, “Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” Thomas Jefferson later declared that religion is “deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.” Encouraging religion — my God — how could that not violate the First Amendment?
I know, let’s ask the Supreme Court as soon as it finishes its opening prayer of “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” Or maybe if we can revive Jefferson — author of the famous “separation of church and state” line and a man who secularists claim did not believe in God — and he can tell us stories about how he approved of and attended religious services in the Treasury Building and the Supreme Court. Jefferson could also explain why while he chaired the Washington D.C. school board he wrote an education plan that required reading the Bible and Isaac Watt’s Hymnal. Or we can simply look in the congressional records and find allocations of public money for chaplains who offered public prayers in the U.S. Capitol before the U.S. Congress. If the men who authored the First Amendment did not believe it blocked the allocation of public money to pay for public prayer in a government building then it is absurd for the Supreme Court or any government body to interpret the First Amendment as an anti-religious action. God Bless America and the secularists too!
Stiglich is an LSA sophomore and a member of the Daily’s editorial board.