It is also important to note that even though the Founders believed the Rights of the people came from God, they did not insist that every citizen believe in God; they simply saw no way to justify those natural moral Rights unless there was a God.
Hence, they set up a form of government that would recognize and protect God-given Rights without establishing a government religion or creating an environment of intolerance. This was important to the founders because they considered religious freedom to be an “unalienable Right”, even though they didn’t specify it in the Declaration of Independence. (They did so in the First Amendment to the Constitution.)
“Congress shall make no law…”
After Thomas Jefferson identified the Moral Law as the foundation of the Declaration of Independence, James Madison and other Founding Fathers legislated those laws and “unalienable Rights” in the Constitution. The First Amendment, of course, is the one that deals with religion. It reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (See the complete Constitution: Appendix II.)
The key point is this: while the First Amendment clearly forbids the federal government from establishing a national religion, it does not prohibit the government from establishing a national morality: it clearly implies that it is wrong for Congress to establish a religion or to prohibit the free exercise of religion; it also implies that any congressional attempt to abridge the freedom of speech, the press, or assembly is morally wrong. The Founding Fathers obviously were convinced that it would be immoral for Congress to restrict these freedoms. In other words, they believed these freedoms were morally right and needed to be protected through legislation.
Legislating Morality, by Dr. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, pp. 21-22.
Of course, this flies in the face of the “You can’t legislate morality” crowd, and it also should start you on the road to understanding that the “secular” humanism favored by many today is not value neutral, nor is it amoral. The context in which we understand morals and law today is flawed because too many fail to realize that the discussion is not really about whether we will have moral law or amoral law; it is about whose morals will inform our law.
Because of the obfuscation made possible in part by the committed efforts of humanists to prevent the judeo-christian ethic from informing society in its most formative years, many people now lack the understanding to critically examine the world around them and the reasons underlying popular opinions and attitudes. Euphemistic phrases have also contributed to the popular, but shallow, perceptions that abound today.
Today murder is sanctioned by “choice”. Compassion is practiced with the money and resources of others, and often creates unwitting victims rather than providing any help beyond the next check. Cities do everything they can to prevent or limit lawful firearm ownership and suffer from horrific crimes…committed with guns, and never see the disconnect. Permissiveness is the order of the day, and yet the enablers fret over the manifested consequences. “Tolerance!’ becomes the battle cry for those least likely to practice it. The whim of the human heart becomes the ultimate expression. Everything is permitted and nothing denied. And yet their answer that comes when the damage is surveyed…the damage from the permissive approach is “Not enough freedom! You must give us more power!”
At times, it reminds me of a person in a small boat at anchor, who cuts the anchor line because they can’t see the purpose for it, then they get bent out of shape when they realize they’re headed for the rocks, but they would sooner see themselves wrecked than bother with the restraint that an anchor offers. It is easy to see where this ends. In many ways, we’re already starting to live it. The question remains: “What are you going to do about it? Fiddle while Rome burns, or pick up a bucket, and get busy?”