like it or not, we are one nation under God

Declaration of Independence

It’s a shame that so many people don’t understand the fundamental differences between the United States of America and every other nation in the world. Perhaps it’s a failed education system. Or perhaps people just refuse to believe it. But I frequently see fellow Americans make comments that contradict our core identity as a country.

A few weeks ago, Dean Raasch, a long-time friend of mine and Alderman in the city of De Pere, Wisconsin, shared the following statement on Facebook:

“For those who do not understand the meaning of ‘Rights’, we need to make it clear once and for all:

“The 2nd Amendment does not apply to semi-auto rifles, nor does it apply to bolt action rifles, pistols, or revolvers. The 2nd Amendment RESTRICTS GOVERNMENT. The technology of the firearm is irrelevant. The restrictions on government remain the same, regardless of the firearm. The Second Amendment was not written to grant permission for citizens to own and bear firearms. It forbids government interference in the right to keep and bear arms, period. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

“This also applies to the other ‘Rights’. They are not granted, they stipulate inherent rights that the government may not prohibit.”

It’s one of those memes that goes around, and obviously it struck a cord with Dean because he shared it. I am constantly amazed by the number of people who don’t understand this concept. The overall point of the post was to make it clear that our founding documents do not limit citizens, they limit government. They also don’t grant rights to citizens. No, our founding documents start by stipulating that our rights come from our Creator.

How many times have you heard people say that our Constitution gives us the right to free speech? That is not correct. Our rights do not come from our Constitution. Our rights come our Creator. What our Constitution does is limit our government’s ability to restrict those rights. This is so important to understand. This is our country. This is who we are.

So, I added a comment to Dean’s post. Referring to our founding documents, I said:

“They say that our rights come from God, our ‘Creator’, not our government. This is what ‘unalienable’ means. The truths of our constitution are ‘self evident’. And…our constitution limits what our government can do. THIS is why people have been flocking to America for centuries now. It’s how my family got here. If you don’t believe in God or if you think your rights should come from your government, why stay here and live a lie? Why be unhappy every day of your life? Go somewhere else, to a country that fits your beliefs.”

To that, this was the reply from one woman:

called me a bigot

So, she called me a bigot because she thinks that I believe people should have the same religious beliefs as me. Obviously that’s not what I said. My comments refer to the religious foundations of our country and the source of our rights. You and I don’t have to believe in the same Creator. We don’t have to live the same religion. But if you believe that your rights don’t come from your Creator, I simply asked the question, “why stay here and live a lie?”

Listen, in order to believe in America and who we are as a country, you have to believe that we have a God, that we have a Creator. The very first sentence of our Declaration of Independence refers to us people and the “separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”. It’s right there. The very next sentence stipulates that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. Think about that. As important as that document is, our God and Creator are called out in the very first two sentences. Yes, He’s that important. The government did not give us our rights, God did.

President Ronald Reagan, in his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, said:

We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around. This makes us special among the nations of the earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people…

We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free.”

In other words, God and our rights came first. Then comes our government. The order is very important.

Now, I never said that you have to believe in my God. But God did indeed give us our rights. Note also that the word “God” is capitalized. It does not say “a god”, it says “God”. There’s a difference. But if you’re the kind of person who thinks that God and faith should have nothing to do with your country, if your the kind of person who trolls social media posts and calls people bigots because you disagree, if your unbelief is THAT important to you, then I truly wonder why you don’t just go live in a different country. After all, you’re not really disagreeing with me, you’re disagreeing with the premise of the founding of our country. You’re disagreeing with the core identity of our great nation. Therefore, I wonder why you wouldn’t just find another nation that fits your beliefs. Such a country is pretty easy to find, given the uniqueness of ours.

Bishop Fulton Sheen, on his TV show back in the 1960s, said this:

“Thomas Jefferson believed that the government must be founded upon respect for the individual. So he investigated, what is the source of our rights and liberties; where do they come from? Where does my right of free speech come from? Or the right of assembly? Or any other right we have? From the will of the majority? If so, the will of the majority could take away the will of the minority. Jefferson intended that the majority would be the custodian of the minority rights.

“Do rights and liberties come from the federal government? Certainly not, if they came from the federal government, the federal government could take them away.

“But, he set it down in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. “It is a self-evident principle that the Creator has endowed man with certain unalienable rights (unalienable, they cannot be taken away), among which are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That is our democracy.”

watch the video

Now, if you choose to disagree with Bishop Sheen because he’s a Catholic religious figure, that’s fine. But he’s correct.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, also spoke about these words from our Declaration of Independence, He said:

“Accurate history is simple. Our founding fathers believed power comes from God to each one of you personally. You are endowed personally. The endowment is unalienable. No lawyer, no judge, no politician, no bureaucrat can take away what God has given you.”

watch the video

Now, if you don’t believe in God, fine. But your rights as an American come from Him. You can’t just unbelieve that away.

There is also much debate about the overall involvement of religion in our country, with some believing that it has no role. To think this way is to not understand our founding documents. Yes, our government cannot make laws respecting a religion, but religion and our freedom of it hold a special place in our constitution. Its protections were meant to allow it to flourish. Referring to our founding fathers, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said:

“The very fact that you should select ‘freedom of religion’ as one of the few freedoms that are identified in the Bill of Rights shows…that religion was specially favored by the framers.”

watch the video

We are indeed one nation under God. Look at the back of that dollar bill in your pocket. You’ll find the sentence, “In God We Trust”. Seriously, look now, it’s there. God is important to us. And every time you spend a dollar, you affirm that belief.

So our independence was declared in 1776. But it wasn’t until 13 years later that we ratified our Constitution, and subsequently its first twelve amendments. It’s a good thing for the woman who called me a bigot that the first amendment insures that Congress will make no law abridging her freedom of speech. Yep, I don’t mind that she called me a name. I may disagree with her, but if she wants to call me a bigot, fine. God gave her that right. Strange how that works, eh? Yep, God gave her the right to call me a bigot. And while she may not like His involvement here, He’s the very reason why she was able to say such things on social media.

But that’s not where this story ends…no, this is where it gets interesting. I thought this episode was over. Dean shared a post, I commented, she called me a bigot, done. I was fine with that. But that wasn’t enough for her. This couldn’t end with her calling me a name. No, this woman took it one step further. She feels that because we disagree on this, that I should not be able to have a job. Yes, she filed a complaint with my employer. And she used a method that suggests that my comment was “hostile, harassing, intimidating, or discriminatory”. Yep, I got a call from a coworker to meet about this. To my employer’s credit, we discussed it, logged it, and it ended there.

But I’ve never spoken to the woman who complained, so I don’t know her goal. Perhaps she feels that I should be fired. Perhaps she feels that because I believe these things about the identity of our country that I should not be allowed to hold a job. I don’t know her purpose, she’s the one who contacted my employer. But cancel culture is indeed alive and well; and it has now hit me directly and personally. Try all you want, but if you try to cancel this basic premise of the source of our rights, you’ll fail. And this whole experience supports my original question, “why stay?” And I’m sincere when I ask this. If this is how she’s going to respond to such statements, she’s going live a very disappointing life.

I’m always suspicious when I see a respectful debate about any issue, and then one person just drops all decorum and calls the other a name. That’s an obvious sign that they’ve run out of valid points to make. So in my case, when this happened, I figured we were done. I was certainly not going to drop to that same level and call her a name back. The discussion was over for me. Well, at least I thought it was over, and then she tried to cancel me.

To further illustrate my point, let’s skip down to the very last sentence of our Declaration of Independence:

“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.”

Wow, the “protection of divine Providence” (note again the capital “P”). There He is, mentioned once again as we wrap up. Earlier in that same final paragraph, our Creator is referred to as the “Supreme Judge of the world”. What an eloquent way to end such an important declaration. When we “mutually pledge to each other”, this means that not only do we all have these rights, but we agree to work together to protect them. This means that we can disagree in public, but we do so with sacred Honor.

Look, the woman who complained about me has rights. And she didn’t get those rights from our government. She got them from God, our Creator. She can disagree all she wants. She can even call me names. And yes, she can even ignore the whole “sacred Honor” thing and try to get me fired. It’s a great country. I just find it disappointing that she chose not to be part of our “pledge to each other”. Nonetheless, I still truly hope she can find what she’s looking for in her pursuit of happiness.

Note: I did not mention the woman’s name because the purpose of this article is not to slam her. I do know her name, I’m looking at it right now as I write this. But this article is not retaliation. This is an affirmation by me of the identity of our country. I hope you also believe and can therefore find happiness living under our freedoms.

UPDATE Jun 17, 2021Fr. Richard Heilman, from the Diocese of Madison, WI, published an article yesterday titled, “You Want To Normalize What? Knock It Off!“, Here’s a quote that illustrates our agreement: “In today’s culture, if you hold these truths (Natural Law) to be self-evident (to borrow a phrase) – notions that find their source in our faith in God – YOU are the problem! YOU are causing division. And YOU must be censored or even punished.” He’s right. And it’s a disgrace.

UPDATE Jun 18, 2021 — Here’s a video of Simon Campbell speaking at a meeting of the Pennsbury School Board in Pennsylvania. I share it because he shared information about when a citizen criticized him when he was on the board himself. Like me, he was the one who was criticized. Like me, he was the one who was called a name. And, most importantly, like me, he firmly believes in the other person’s right to call him a name.

UPDATE Jun 18, 2021 — I saw this tweet today from Kangmin Lee, which says, “If you can get someone fired for their opinions, you are not the oppressed. You are the oppressor.” How true that is.

UPDATE Jun 19, 2021 — Tonight, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference in Orlando. Here’s an excerpt: “We need a renewal of American civics back in our public school system and in all our schools. People need to be taught why America was founded, what the principals that made our country unique where; they need to be taught that our rights do not come from government, they come from God.” Boy, does that sound familiar? I didn’t just dream up this concept. It’s there in our founding documents and I’m not the only one who knows it.

One comment

  • Madelyn Kennedy

    Excellently written Scott! Shameful that the person tried to get you fired. You are a truly good person to protect her identity when she certainly doesn’t deserve to be protected. God be with you.

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