On the Fourth of July in 2018, I wrote the following Facebook post.
Inalienable Rights Endowed by our Creator?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”
This theological statement in Declaration of Independence seems to be the bedrock of American law.
Though many Americans failed to practice what they preached, this is the very theological principle Dr. King cited in the fight for equality.
This is the “bad check” that came back marked “insufficient funds” (‘I Have a Dream Speech’).1
In any case, as America becomes increasingly secular, as we increasingly — in principle or in practice — reject any notion of a Creator — do we not see how we will undermine the validity of this theological statement?
If we reject God, do we not reject the very foundation upon which human rights are built — the bedrock of American law?
“Our Founding Fathers believed devoutly that there was a God and that the inalienable rights of man were rooted not in the state, nor the legislature, nor in any other human power—but in God alone.” (Tom Clark, Supreme Court Justice).
The American Theological Creed
I can put it no better than G.K. Chesterton who wrote:
America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.2
To clarify what I was aiming at representing with the picture above, I wrote the following in a Facebook comment:
The idiom of a self-defeating act is something like “sawing off the branch your sitting on.”
Just wanted to provide a visual representation of what happens when we in American society try to separate ourselves from God — perhaps without knowing the logical ramifications of such self-separation.
Worldview matters. It is always important to illuminate the logical consequences of competing philosophies. If one is considering rejecting God, one must realize that there is a quite a bit at stake.
- “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”‘ https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf
- Mark Water, The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations (Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000), 32.