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Legislation by metaphor, bad history

We are on the threshold of America’s entry into a post-religious, post-constitutional era. Decades of liberal assaults on traditional values and institutions are bearing fruit – sweet or bitter depending on your allegiance. The final battles are under way, and the bulwarks erected to protect us from the dark side of our natures and from governmental tyranny are being battered down. The center is not holding.

The Constitution was carefully constructed by the founders to protect the people from overreaching government. Centuries from now, historians will write that one of the greatest ironies leading to the demise of the grand American experiment was the fraudulent use of the Constitution to demolish the religious and moral underpinnings of the nation.

In 1984, Associate Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist in the case of Wallace vs. Jaffree stated: “The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned.”

Was Rehnquist right? The short answer is, yes. The First Amendment says nothing about a “separation of church and state.” It is a “hands-off” amendment, instructing Congress not to establish a state religion and not to make laws interfering with religious expression.

The Founders did not set up a “wall of separation between church and state.” It was erected by slick lawyers, arrogant jurists and unprincipled politicians to isolate religion from the mainstream of American life and to discredit people of faith. It is not the first time in history that unscrupulous men saw religion as a barrier to their personal ambitions and ideological agendas.

The founders were not vague, ambivalent or silent on their conviction that freedom depends upon morality and morality upon religion. They understood that man’s law is no match for evil.

In a letter dated April 17, 1787, Benjamin Franklin stated, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

On Thursday, June 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin delivered a speech to the Constitutional Convention, which was at the time embroiled in raucous debate and endless squabbles. He asked, “Do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? … [I]f a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.'”

Old Ben requested that “henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”

The entire assembly quickly agreed, and that is the way it happened as our Constitution was being developed. One may argue whether God inspired our founders, but there is no question He was prayerfully invited to participate. He was not walled out.

In his farewell address, George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.” He maintained that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

No one explained it better than President John Adams: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In “The Lessons of History,” Will and Ariel Durant stated, “The greatest question of our time is not communism versus individualism, not even East versus West; it is whether man can live without God.” They cited French historian Joseph Ernest Renan, who wrote, “If rationalism wishes to govern the world without regard to the religious needs of the soul, the experience of the French Revolution is there to teach us the consequences of such a blunder.”

Based on their lifelong study of the rise and fall of civilizations, the Durants drew the conclusion that “There is no significant example in history before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”

The American culture is journeying through muck and smut, looking for lower ground, not of necessity but of depravity. Unless we change course, and soon, our destination is either moral anarchy and social chaos, or the surrender of all our freedoms to Big Brother in exchange for his promise to protect us from ourselves.


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