Could history’s greatest Republic be suffering total amnesia over the Founder’s conviction that religion is a sacrosanct zone outside of governmental authority? You’d think so, given the Obama administration’s decision to force Believers to provide birth control against conviction.
The Democrat’s sinister cabal, in typical Marxist fashion, clumsily politicizes yet another area of American freedom. We observe, again, the inevitable, serious-as-a-heart-attack, yet trite socialist power-grab.
Here, in his liberal kabuki theater, a pseudo-sincere, smart **** leftist drone solemnly dictates religious organizations must underwrite birth control. Undoubtedly, Barack and his pals chortled like hyenas over the resulting hand-wringing of sincere Believers.
But of extreme import to Barack is reminding everyone of the god that is government, with its inherent authority and right to do whatever it likes in the lives of Americans. Or, as Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark stated in response to a question during a town hall over Obamacare (video):
Female constituent: “How can legislation such as this be constitutional when it seems to be in direct conflict with the 13th amendment? ...And ...if this legislation is constitutional, what limitations are there on the federal government’s ability to tell us how to run our private lives?”
Stark: “I think there are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life.”
Female constituent: “My question is: How can this law be constitutional?—but more importantly than that—if they can do this, what can’t they?...Is your answer that they can do anything?”
Stark: “The federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country.”
There is only one approach to religion endorsed by the Founders, described in the Constitution—absolute freedom to express one’s beliefs. With America’s greatest right—freedom of religion—threatened, it’s high-time for vexed Conservatives, Libertarians, and principled Liberals to oppose desecration of our Bill-of-Rights. This is the subject of this essay.
While many diverse cults flourished in the ancient world, establishing pantheons in pagan cultures, there was no freedom of religion as modern Westerners understand it. For example, in ancient Rome, newly established belief systems, like Christianity were not welcome, since they were unproved. Further, Christianity was also not welcomed in the Roman Empire because Christians would not accept polytheism, or emperor-worship.
It was not until the Reformation occurred that a permanent foundation for religious freedom was established. A preliminary demand for religious freedom, founded upon Scripture, came from the Puritan Revolution dissenters called Levellers. These proposed a precocious demand for various rights, including absolute liberty of religious expression. One writer describes their philosophy, crafted from a reading of the newly liberated Bible in the vernacular:
A general underlying religious message of the movement was that all men are equal in the sight of God be they prince or pauper. That true and perfect freedom was not attainable in this world. True government was only answerable to the People, not to the Parliament or the Crown. Religious toleration and a basic Christian concern for those at the lowest level of society were central elements.
While many thinkers contributed to the notion of toleration, seminal author and philosopher John Locke was at the forefront. This is notable for in early life, Locke was a typical Puritan-sympathizer—not opposed to repressing non-Orthodox belief.
But several events caused Locke to take a broader view of religious tolerance, according to Kim Ian Parker in The Biblical Politics of John Locke. First was his university education under the remarkable John Owen, one of the greatest theologians in Church history. Owen’s own experience as Cromwell’s minister led to his witnessing first hand the slaughter of Irish Catholics, during the Siege of Drogheda for refusal to accept Cromwell’s Protestantism. Owen believed this a great sin since the biblical God Himself did not demand force in matters of religious belief.
Second, when Locke was driven from England over religious differences with the Crown, he fled to the Continent and stayed in several remarkable cities, rich in religious diversity and tolerance. Later, an experience as a political attaché in Brandenburg made a like impression with its tolerant congregations of Calvinists, Lutherans and Catholics, living at peace with one another, according to Parker.
Third, Parker writes that Locke’s legendary relationship with Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, First Earl of Shaftesbury, challenged his early repressive ideas on religion. Around this time Locke also began attending Whichcote’s Latitudinarian congregation, helping encourage tolerance.
Fourth, Locke’s own powerful mind allowed him to pick through the debate until he’d written several powerful defenses against religious mandate. In his Essay on Religious Tolerance, Locke outlines three arguments supporting religious tolerance:
Key to understanding Locke’s belief, which has been roundly proved by history, is his theory society thrives when religion is freely expressed, but evil builds when such belief is repressed.
The early Pilgrims and Puritan expatriates famously came to America in search of religious tolerance, something unavailable at home. They established states in America, some of which allowed more religious liberty than any place in history, according to Leonard W. Levy’s Origins of the Bill of Rights. For example, Maryland’s Toleration Act of 1649 laid down protection for “the free exercise of religion.” This phrase was employed in the Constitution more than a century later, according to Levy. In Maryland, Catholics and Protestants worshiped in peace.
The Virginia constitution, the first state constitution, contained many elements later seen in the Fourth through Eighth Amendments. It protected life, liberty and property, and also secured “the free exercise of religion” as well as an unbridled press. When the Constitution and Bill of Rights were assembled, the cream was taken off the crop of state constitutions and bills of rights. Defense of the freedom of religion coming chiefly, along with that of the press, as its inclusion in the First Amendment shows.
“Natural Rights” theory under-girds the Constitution. This idea was taken from John Locke, and others writing upon Natural Law, resulting in the Declaration’s “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”“
Ellis Sandoz, in A Government Of Laws, describes Locke’s and the Founder’s view of Natural Law:
The notion is thus: there are abiding principles of justice; the law of nature is superior in obligation to every other law; and municipal law—the law of nations and of lesser communities, the positive law that is legislated by assemblies or even by the referenda of people—is subject to the demands of natural and divine law as being permanent categories of Justice. While the assertion of the primacy of natural rights beings a different and novel perspective to the argument, it is in significant part the traditional view that Jefferson is thinking about almost a century after John Locke wrote when, in the Declaration, he talks about the laws of nature and of nature’s God.
Whatever majorities do, whatever particular rulers undertake, indeed they do have great liberty; but they rule justly. If they do not, then the people are not obliged to obey. Even a philosopher as cautious as Thomas Aquinas says that. The state is an association of free men. Consent is a fundamental element in the whole Western political tradition. Even a king, Aristotle already says, must rule by consent of the people (politeuma) who are the true constitution (politeia), but “a tyrant is still a tyrant, though his subjects do not want him.” The notion of consent is fundamental to political regimes and forms the very distinction between a political and totalitarian regime.
Locke’s theory claims man was in a “State of Nature” after his Fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. Afterwards, mankind still had a right of human survival, so folks were granted Natural Rights to protect themselves. These Natural Rights were then volunteered—a small part of, in order to enter into the society of men. But these Natural Rights, like a Right to Life, Liberty, and Property, can never be wholly abandoned. Each person carries these Rights with them into society, as articulated in God’s Law. Such Rights are revealed in the Bible, and also detected by the ancient pagan thinkers, forming the doctrine of the Law of Nature. Further, common sense, as well as trial and error, are added, which reveals how this law ought to be applied in present and future settings.
Barack, like numerous Marx-influenced leaders before him, has a withering and deformed view of religion. Further, it is no secret that Karl Marx, was wholly opposed to religion, calling it the “opium of the people.”
That Marx’s fabled humanist paradise could never hope to prosper while competing with Christianity and the Church is obvious. In fact, it is quite astonishing that intelligent persons do not recognize the fact that the mortal enemy of socialism, and vice-verse—is everyday Christianity. In this sense, there can be no true sharing of the mission between the two. And well-versed socialists and Marxists wholly understand this problem, which is why they perpetually seek to weaken the Church.
A linchpin argument against Obamacare is it elects government as a blind overseer for millions, regardless of personal differences. In other words, given the nature of bureaucratic decision-making, a vast ocean of choices will be made for those personally opposed to the policies. This is not merely inefficient, but morally wrong, in extremis. Further, it cuts against the Founders’ wise desire to keep government smaller and less intrusive.
So when the Obama administration decides that Christians must pay for birth control, regardless of personal conviction, they achieve a handful of important goals. First, Obama extends-out the mission of Obamacare, delivering it to one of the many frontiers of human choice. Second, the administration vexes its “enemies,” unnerving them by proving itself unafraid to make waves, causing critics dread at its intrepid ambitions. Third, and most importantly, the maneuver establishes that government controlled healthcare is the proper authority in those most godlike activities—the creation of life, and decision-making for death. And if the government owns these rights, secularists can posit it has ransomed men’s souls, as well.
Only a bona fide fool could look at Washington and not see a total destruction of our Constitution and Liberty, itself. In exposing his contempt for citizens, Obama has done a huge favor by arming opponents with fresh evidence of his utter opposition to American ideals and principles. Yet, the Founders were keen to respond to acts of tyranny, sparking the American Revolution. As Thomas Jefferson said,
Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master!
Typical for burgeoning tyrants is to play naive citizens like a fiddle, throwing out illegal, contradictory and power-grabbing maneuvers to confuse and break their spirits. Citizens must finally wake up to this administration’s many depredations against the natural liberties of free-born Americans. Now it’s revealed Obama despises religious liberty—the seed and nurturer of every other right—so we must come to our senses and vote out this tin-horn. As reminded by Thomas Kidd’s God Of Liberty, A Religious History of the American Revolution, let us never forget another ringing statement by Jefferson, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”
Kelly O’Connell is an author and attorney. He was born on the West Coast, raised in Las Vegas, and matriculated from the University of Oregon. After laboring for the Reformed Church in Galway, Ireland, he returned to America and attended law school in Virginia, where he earned a JD and a Master’s degree in Government. He spent a stint working as a researcher and writer of academic articles at a Miami law school, focusing on ancient law and society. He has also been employed as a university Speech & Debate professor. He then returned West and worked as an assistant district attorney. Kelly is now is a private practitioner with a small law practice in New Mexico. Kelly is now host of a daily, Monday to Friday talk show at AM KOBE called AM Las Cruces w/Kelly O’Connell
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