Skip to comments.Why it matters that our democracy trust in God
Posted on 06/05/2011 6:12:29 AM PDT by GonzoII
I will argue, in point of fact, that the aggressive eradication of religion from the public forum does serious damage to our democracy. In order to see the truth of this, it might be wise to journey in imagination to a stuffy boarding house in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776 where a young Virginian lawyer is laboring over the opening lines to a rather significant document. Providing the widest possible context for his argument that the American colonies ought to be free of British tyranny, Thomas Jefferson writes "we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Now if one puruses the history of political philosophy prior to the emergence of Christianity – consulting, say, the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero – one would be hard pressed indeed to find any ringing affirmations of equality and human rights. In fact, for the classical thinkers, the deep and undeniable inequalities that obtain among us – differences in intelligence, courage, physical beauty, virtue, etc. – must be fully acknowledged if a just society is to emerge. The suggestion that the equality of all people is the foundation of the political order would have struck Plato as the height of folly and, practically speaking, a formula for chaos.
How do we possibly explain the transition from the classical idea that equality is self-evidently false to Jefferson's notion that it is self-evidently true?
Another of Jefferson's axioms is that all people, equal before God, have been endowed by that same God ("their Creator") with certain rights which are inalienable, that is to say, which can be neither granted nor rescinded by any human institution or contrivance. Once again, if we consult the classical political theorists, we find none of this. For Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and their colleagues, special privileges belonged to those who had earned them or had inherited them from aristocratic forebears. That every person in the political order is the subject of rights to life and liberty would have struck them as a ridiculous and counter-intuitive proposition. So we are compelled to ask what made the difference, and the answer, once again, is God. Take out of consideration the Creator, who made every person in love and destined each for eternal life, and properly inalienable rights promptly disappear. And individuals become, in very short order, the objects of political manipulation and domination. To see the truth of this, all we have to do is look at the totalitarianisms of the last century, governments that were grounded in an explicit denial of God. The negation of equality and the suppression of fundamental human rights in Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and Castro's Cuba followed directly from the systematic denial of the Creator God.
Democracies appropriately involve the debating of public policy, the electing of officials, the existence of a free press, and the rule of law, but those practices and customs are rooted in certain conditions that are not themselves the object of deliberation. They are founded in moral absolutes – among which are liberty, equality, the inviolability of life, and the right to pursue happiness; and these non-negotiable truths are in turn logically correlative belief in a Creator God. And this is why I would hold, precisely as an American, that it is supremely dangerous to our democracy to eradicate references to God from our public space. Therefore, as an adept of both Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Jefferson, I say "Bravo" to the Supreme Court for this recent decision.
Father Robert Barron, "Why it matters that our democracy trust in God." Word on Fire (April 25, 2011).
Reprinted with permission of Father Robert Barron.
Father Robert Barron is the founder of Word On Fire and is an acclaimed author, theologian and speaker. He is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. Fr. Barron is also the creator and host of the groundbreaking, ten-part documentary series called CATHOLICISM (www.CatholismProject.org). Word On Fire (www.WordOnFire.org) programs reach millions of people and have been broadcast on WGN America, EWTN, Relevant Radio and the popular Word on Fire YouTube Channel. Fr. Barron is the author of, And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation, Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master, Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals, Eucharist (Catholic Spirituality for Adults), Priority of Christ, The: Toward a Postliberal Catholicism, and Word on File: Proclaiming the Power of Christ.
Father Barron uses his YouTube channel to reach out to people and bring valuable lessons of faith alive by pointing out things that can be learned by watching popular characters of movies and television shows.
Copyright © 2011 Father Robert Barron
Where governments respect Natural Rights, the people and countries will prosper. Where suppressed, they will founder. Simple.
Which way is the US headed? /s
“Why it matters that our democracy trust in God”
The author demonstrates his complete and shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
utter ignorance of this Christian nation.
The vast majority of Americans worship government rather than God. They look to government to meet their every need and solve all their problems. Most so-called Christians included. I am a Christian who finds the “in God we trust” to be delusional, dishonest or, at best, wishful thinking. Americans do not trust in God but more handouts and protection form Uncle Sam.
It isn't to me. Wherever a positive reference to God and our faith in Him is displayed it cannot but be positive.
A plurality of pagans has no bearing on the divine command to worship God and trust in Him. He doesn't rule and give his ordinances by a democratic vote.
I stated a fact. The fact that you countered with in no way refuted my fact.
Excellent article, explains why our Nation is unique on Earth. Sadly, we are losing this spirit, and that is leading to our potential demise as a free nation.
This is a war, and to win it we must return to the founding principles...they are fundamental to the grace that is the human spirit, created by God.
Thank you for posting.
“Its a REPUBLIC, not a DEMOCRACY.”
So also says China. What’s the difference?
“Americans do not trust in God but more handouts and protection form Uncle Sam.”
“I stated a fact. The fact that you countered with in no way refuted my fact.”
You make a sweeping statement and then call it a fact. Prove that ALL Americans don’t trust in God.
NB: You don’t speak for me.
“In the twelfth century the Arabian tradition and the Byzantine tradition met in Paris, the metaphysical, physical, and ethical works of Aristotle were translated partly from the Arabian and partly from the Greek text, and, after a brief period of suspicion and hesitancy on the part of the Church, Aristotle’s philosophy was adopted as the basis of a rational exposition of Christian dogma. The suspicion and hesitation were due to the fact that, in the Arabian text and its commentaries, the teaching of Aristotle had become perverted in the direction of materialism and PANTHEISM. After more than two centuries of almost universally unquestioned triumph, Aristotle once more was made the subject of dispute in the Christian schools of the Renaissance Period, the reason being that the Humanists, like the Arabians, emphasized those elements in Aristotle’s teaching that were irreconcilable with Christian doctrine. With the advent of Descartes, and the shifting of the centre of philosophical inquiry from the external world to the internal, from nature to mind, Aristoteleanism, as an actual system, began to be more and more identified with traditional scholasticism, and was not studied apart from scholasticism except for its historic interest.”
I enjoy Fr Barron, great article, thanks.
I misstated. What I meant is that most-the vast majority-do not trust in God. All I have to do is listen to people and watch how people vote. Most Americans vote for people who promise to provide for them and protect them.
If you disagree with this you then you are delusional. If you disagree with this, then explain the gargantuan leviathin state that is pushing us to collapse and or tyranny.
How many Republican voters would go for a candidate who says you’re own your own, it’s all up to God?
>>Its a REPUBLIC, not a DEMOCRACY.
>So also says China. Whats the difference?
China has a free-market? [/sarc]