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The Freedom That Begets Freedom

Pic: PragerU

America has always been a place of religious tolerance, diversity and refuge. The birth of our nation began when the Puritans escaped religious persecution and settled in a land set aside for them by God. They believed that they had a holy mission to craft for the world a New Jerusalem, and to model themselves as a chosen people of God. In fact, the very concept of American liberty is wholly predicated on the existence of God, as our inalienable rights cannot exist without the authority of a divine being granting them to us. As John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to be the government of any other". Without the existence of a divine authority, the existence of our rights become a social construct that is wholly dependent upon the willingness of the people to keep their government in check. This vulnerability makes any such society ripe for demagogues to exploit, eroding our rights under the guise of a multiplicity of reasons, and instituting their own brand of tyranny. The dangers of a faithless society based only upon the social contract is that it is often devoid of freedom because there is no higher authority than the subdued masses to constrain the power of government. Regardless of one's actual belief in religion, all can concede that a belief in God has been a primary factor in the preservation and promotion of liberty, and that it's great social utility may minimally justify what Leo Strauss merits as a "noble lie". Our Founders believed that the greatest way to undermine our liberty was to shake the foundations they were set upon and to knock over the pillar which has contributed so much to the sustaining of human happiness. Friedrich Nietzsche once proclaimed that "God Was Dead", but this was no victorious statement, but rather, a warning. Should we seek to separate ourselves from faith in a manner that is devoid of something to replace it, not only will we fall into the despairs of nihilism, but also erode the freedoms we hold dear, of which are predicated on faith. Alexander Hamilton reflected on the chaos of the French Revolution, writing: "The anti-religious force It unleashed annihilates the foundations of social order and true liberty, confounds all moral distinctions and substitutes the mild and beneficent religion of the Gospel a gloomy, persecuting, and desolating atheism". However, it is often misunderstood that because America is a nation with Judeo-Christian foundations, that it is only a nation for those of the Judeo-Christian faith, but that could not be further from the truth. The progenitors of our nation believed that authentic liberty meant tolerance for those who freely sought their own path in accordance with their own conscience, and a willingness to accept that reasonable men may still disagree in the end. In fact, our Judeo-Christian history is the reason why religious tolerance and pluralism exist. Before the pilgrims arrived to America in 1630, Europe was undergoing a bloody sectarian conflict, ending in the horrific massacres of innocent people who merely wished to worship their God as they saw fit. It is because of religious persecution that the Puritans understood the value of religious tolerance. Americans know better than anyone else that the best way to preserve peace and keep men free, is to allow people to worship whoever and however they want. There is a reason why it is enshrined into the Constitution that we all have the freedom of religion, and it is because it is the basic premise for our other liberties. If we cannot be free to worship our God, we are not free to think, free to speak, or free to act as individuals. Without the freedom of worship, there can be no other freedom. Secularism does not mean no religion, but rather, it is a recognition of our religious autonomy, and that we are all beholden to a higher power. America is a Christian nation, and for that reason, we should welcome Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and every other faith, as well as Atheists, Deists and Agnostics, recognizing the solidarity that we share with all people as we pursue the callings of our conscience. The wall of separation between Church and State does not mean the diminishment of our spiritual life in civil society, nor does it mean that statecraft must be immoral and unconscionable, but it means that our liberties are protected and go as far as the Heavens permit.

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