"...when in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another [England] and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights [cannot be taken away], that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. (Thomas Jefferson, primary author)
Is that true? Does our sovereign Creator give us certain "unalienable rights" as American citizens that cannot be lost or taken away?
Like most of our presidents, Barack Obama affirms that historical promise. In The Audacity of Hope, he referred to Jefferson's introduction as "the foundation of our government" and "the substance of our common creed."
Yet those promised "rights" are fast being crushed by a vast machinery of blurry laws and oppressive regulations. Obama's next comments only illustrate the confusing double-speak so often heard from Alinksky-trained change-agents:
"...the essential idea behind the Declaration -- that we are born into this world free, all of us; that each of us arrives with a bundle of rights that can't be taken away by any person or any state without just cause; that through our own agency we can, and must, make of our lives what we will -- is one that every American understands.... Indeed the value of individual freedom is so deeply ingrained in us that we tend to take it for granted."
Yes, we have taken our freedom for granted. But, no, we don't "arrive" in this world with a bundle of irrevocable rights. Today's evolving laws and government "entitlements" are actually replacing our original "rights" with unthinkable restrictions on speech and liberty! The most offensive "right" of all is our fading freedom to share God's unchanging truths! As He warns us,
"...the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." 1 John 5:19
James Madison was alert to the threats ahead. As the main author of our "Bill of Rights," he saw the need to limit government control over personal liberties. Ratified on December 15, 1791, the First Amendment states:
"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."
But, as we have seen, this promised protection is not irrevocable. Step by step, those wise legal guidelines are being torn down.
Historically, it makes sense. God doesn't promise us earthly "freedom" in this world. Nations that reject His guidelines will suffer the consequences:
"...when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them... when your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God. ...you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’... Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods... you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God." (Deut. 8:12-20)
Naturally, that warning doesn't fit our thinking today. It's far easier to believe the nice-sounding illusions in The Audacity of Hope that appeal to our feelings than to accept a disturbing reality based on facts. For example, the historical balance Obama mentions in the next paragraph has little in common with his communitarian dictates, which are fast transforming America:
"In every society (and in every individual), these twin strands -- the individualistic and the communal, autonomy and solidarity -- are in tension, and it has been one of the blessings of America that the circumstances of our nation's birth allowed us to negotiate these tensions better than most."
Today, those tensions are simply resolved through his undefined plan for "change," which embraces the UN vision of communitarianism, solidarity and control. Our old individual "rights" have no place in this rising global collective -- nor in the UN Alliance of Civilizations, which recently added America to its roster of western and Muslim nations committed to unity through "dialogue."
Who Said They Were "Unalienable"?
Since Thomas Jefferson penned the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, it reflects his philosophy. Unlike most of our founders, he claimed to be a Deist, not a Christian. He mentioned the Enlightenment's impersonal "Creator" -- "Nature's God" and the "Laws of Nature" -- but ignored the Biblical God who led the pilgrims to this continent.
Francis Schaeffer explains the difference in his 1976 book, How Then Shall We Live?Jefferson believed in the wisdom of man, not in the unchanging sovereignty of God. He "did not accept Jesus as divine and rejected all account of miracles and the resurrection." In his personal letter to John Adams in 1814, he shared those doubts:
"The utopian dream of the Enlightenment can be summed up by five words: reason, nature, happiness, progress, and liberty....
"If these men [who embraced the beliefs of the Enlightenment] had a religion, it was deism. The deists believed in a God who had created the world but who had no contact with it now, and who had not revealed truth to men. If there was a God, he was silent.""The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine."
Jefferson wrote a similar letter to his friend William Short in 1820 to clarify his acceptance of rational moral values and his denial of the spiritual teachings of Jesus:
"It is not to be understood that I am with him [Jesus] in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he [Jesus] takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it...
"Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples."
To separate the New Testament's gold from the dross," Jefferson deleted all verses that showed the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore lashed with his own "rational Christianity." He called his edited version "The Philosophy of Jesus Extracted from the Texts of the Evangelists." Today it's titled The Jefferson Bible.
Similar views are taught by today's liberal college professors, the Jesus Seminar, Gnostic researchers, and numerous leaders in the emerging church movement. Denying the Holy Spirit, they can't see God's truth.
"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light..." (John 3:19)
"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it...." (Deut. 4:2)
The Only Source ofCertainty
America's first president, George Washington, studied the Bible and was well aware of the national consequences of rejecting God. His 1796 Farewell Address left us with these wise warnings. Notice his emphasis on Christian moral standards:
"Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion [referring to Christianity] and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.... Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion....
"...virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
"In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations."
Washington understood human nature and the cycles of culture. History had shown him that hard times drive people to God, but prosperous times tempt us to forget His goodness. He, then, withdraws and lets us face the full force of our foolishness.
Our current rulers have traded faith  and morality for lies and corruption. Empowered by "Hate Crime" laws, they have targeted the "offensive" words of faithful Christians. Those who refuse to compromise may soon face persecution -- right here in the "land of free."
Yet, in the midst of this spiritual war, our Lord still reigns. His peace, hope, strength and ultimate victory will surely sustain that remnant of believers who dare to follow His way. While Jefferson's "unalienable rights" are fading fast, the following "right" from God will last through eternity:
"...as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
1. Barack Obama, Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Crown Publishers, 2006), p. 53.
3. Ibid., Obama, p. 55.
4. Francis Schaeffer, How Then Shall We Live? (Fleming H. Revel Co., 1976), p.121-122.
7. George Washington's 1796 Farewell Address at http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/farewell/sd106-21.pdf
See his handwritten version here: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw2&fileName=gwpage024.db&recNum=228
8. See President Obama's beliefs: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/009/memory.htm#obama
This picture is part of a larger photograph by Thomas Faunce. Find out about his missionary journeys at www.facebook.com/shutterspeeds