I have never read the Declaration of Independence. That may come as no surprise to you if you know me well enough — I’ve not read many things which I should have by now. So today, I am reading the Declaration, and I am sharing it here for you as well, giving you the opportunity to read it if you have not.
In reading it, I have not only learned what “consanguinity” means, but I have seen that belief in God really is part of our American heritage; in the Declaration He is referred to a number of times in ways which can only be asserted by theists.
These men, who staked their lives on their freedom and who include such men as Benjamin Franklin & Thomas Jefferson, in affirming their independence did so by invoking a most personal God. A God who…
- is the God of nature who entitles men to just government,
- is the Creator who entitles men to unalienable rights,
- is the Supreme Judge of the world, and
- is the exerciser of Divine Providence upon which the Founding Fathers relied.
In essence, in declaring their independence from Great Britain, these men declared their dependence upon God, from whom proper governmental authority is derived.
Today, this dependence upon God is being challenged everywhere in American government. As the American government forgets its roots and forgets upon whom they depend, we will increasingly see abuses of power and deterioration of freedoms within America, just as is happening even now with our neighbor Canada.
I guess it could be pointed out that our government isn’t based upon the Declaration but rather upon the Constitution. Fair enough. You could also say that the Constitution isn’t as blatantly theist as the Declaration is. Also, fair enough. But to make the leap, then, that America doesn’t have Christian roots is something I do not believe is possible. If anything, the Declaration reveals the mind set of early Americans to be that government is subject to God in a very real way. I do not believe they could have completely ignored such convictions while writing the Constitution lest they have come up with something completely different than what they did. Frankly, secularism does not breed freedom, particularly of religion or expression. Again, just check out what’s happening in Canada.
Anyway, at the very least, today we celebrate the independence of America, an independence which was declared via a document which at the least was theist if not wholly Judeo-Christian.
Read through the Declaration and be reminded of just what sorts of things the founders of America considered to be usurpations of proper governmental authority. Some of the acts, as written, remind me of certain elements taking place today in our government.
“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” — The founders advocated for a very limited federal government, which is just the sort of government we today don’t find in America. We do, however, find all sorts of new offices being established by the government.
“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.” — The founders believed in the sovereignty of a nation and would not subject Americans to powers foreign to our own constitution. Today, the headquarters of the United Nations resides on American soil and far too few politicians (such as Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin) are calling for America’s complete independence of such unconstitutional powers over American citizens.
The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another 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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Today we, as Americans, celebrate our Independence Day, but may we do so remembering that the preservation of the Republic and of constitutional government is not something which ended 232 years ago. If we value our freedoms and the ideals of the Founders, we must continually strive for them. That is why what Ron Paul has advocated for has been called a “revolution”; it is a casting off of so much of what Americans have been all but forced to accept and a re-prioritation of governmental powers to better resemble what was so carefully crafted centuries ago.
And if you are a Christian reading this and do not feel it necessary for a Christian to concern himself with such things, I must beg to differ and, in doing so, recommend Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto, which explains the Reformation origins of the American republic form of government as well as the Christian’s duty in regards to governmental powers and abuses thereof. Certainly, we cannot neglect evangelism as the primary mission of the church, but we cannot simply accept the diminishing freedoms associated therewith in America.
Whether you agree with the above sentiments or not, I hope you have a great Independence Day weekend as we express to the Supreme Judge of the world our gratitude for not living under a tyrannical monarchy… and as we express our complete dependence upon the Creator for our life, our liberty, and our happiness. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.