Americans used to roar like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security.

– Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

Recently I saw a bumper sticker I hope was a joke. It said, “Who needs God? We’ve got Congress.”

Whether or not the bumper sticker was meant to be humorous, the sad fact is America has largely supplanted God with government. Or at least we’re moving steadily in that direction.

You see, when we looked to God to provide our needs, we knew He was unlikely to hand us a loaf of bread on a silver platter. The best we could hope for was the weather to stay fine so our wheat could grow to maturity; that the combine wouldn’t break down during harvest; that the truck didn’t stall while transporting the wheat to the mill; and that the supply chain didn’t falter while getting the ground flour to the grocery store so the housewife could buy the flour to make bread for her family’s dinner.

In other words, when we trusted in God, we worked hard to provide what we needed. But when we trust in government, we demand that it give us our daily bread. For free. Whether we’ve worked for it or not. After all, isn’t bread a right?

One of the things that irks me about the attitude of progressives is the endless list of “rights” they manufacture out of thin air. They claim we have the “right” to food, housing, medical care, education, employment, abortion, etc. But here’s the distinction between true rights and false rights: True rights do not cost anyone else.

True rights derive from God, and those rights grant us the freedom and liberty to pursue our needs free from government interference and restrictions (within the bounds of the founding documents). False rights mean we point guns at people and force them to provide us with food, housing, medical care, education, employment, abortion, etc., at their expense.

Naturally this doesn’t mean there won’t be dumb people who do dumb things. Someone will always shoot themselves in the foot (literally). In the past when citizens knew their rights, our response was: “Well, he was an idiot to shoot himself in the foot. Maybe he learned a lesson.” Now we say, “Well, he was an idiot to shoot himself in the foot. We need to ban firearms so no one else ever shoots himself in the foot.”

Judge Napolitano warns of how far off the founders’ path America has wandered in his book “A Nation of Sheep”

In other words, in an effort to protect citizens from the occasional idiot, we legislate everyone. We allow emotionalism to become policy. The government loves that. It wants to protect us. It wants to grant us the “rights” of food, medical care and education. But make no mistake, the only reason the government is such an enthusiastic provider of “rights” is so it can become our master.

As government ascends in importance, the need for God retreats. We no longer beseech the Almighty for help in achieving our goals. Instead, we turn to Congress to provide us with whatever we don’t want to bother achieving on our own

Americans have come to believe everything should be “fair” and all playing fields should be level. But of course when government tries to impose fairness on us, it results in a profoundly unfair redistribution of our labor, resources and income. (“Spreading the wealth” is the current term.)

And because we’ve allowed emotionalism to become policy, we’ve become a nation of victims. It’s much easier to whine about our “rights” and claim that others are responsible for providing us with the things we “deserve” than it is to work for those things ourselves.

When we implore God to provide us with a place to live, we don’t expect a mighty celestial hand to drop a house key in front of us. Instead, we work our butts off at our job, save money for a down payment, keep our credit history clean and pray these efforts will convince a banker to loan us the money to buy a house.

But when government replaces God, we claim housing is a “right” that should be provided to us regardless of our efforts or worthiness to own that house. We expect and demand immediate fulfillment.

In other words, when the achievement of happiness takes the place of the pursuit of happiness – when we demand that the government make everything “fair” – then that government has replaced God.

But what, a progressive may ask, is wrong with that? Why not look to our government to provide us with our food, housing, medical care and education?

Consider this quote from Christine Smith: “We thrive when we work for what we achieve rather than having it given to us. The foundations which made this nation strong are being destroyed as families lose economic independence, send their children to failing government schools, and pay taxes for programs that destroy personal autonomy and wreak havoc worldwide. And as people suffer, they mistakenly look to government to solve their problems.”

John Rackliffe writes, “Welfare programs, Social Security and other government entitlements have increased the need for the collection of more taxes, putting pressure on the middle class to pay for the programs for the poor. What God and the founders did to bring people together, the Progressive movement and a growing government has undone, driving people apart across an economic divide that grows wider with each passing year.”

When we look to God for help, then we must by definition regulate our own actions. We become a self-disciplined people. But when we depend on the government to regulate us, we surrender the ability to regulate ourselves.

As long as we permit government to replace God, we will never ever regain the former stature of our nation. We will become, to paraphrase Peale, sheep bleating for security rather than lions roaring for liberty. We will continue our descent from proud Americans to whiny brats demanding endless entitlements.

If we pray to God for strength in these troubling times, He will give it. Praying to the government is worse than useless; it’s perilous.

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