Volume 4, Part 7

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Abraham Lincoln said, “It is for us … to be here dedicated to the great task … that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom …” (Gettysburg Address). The task of ordering the nation to God is opposed by an array of formidable hostile forces. Continuing legal challenges can be expected.

“John Courtney Murray wrote in ‘We Hold These Truths’: ‘The first truth to which the American Proposition makes appeal is that landmark of Western political theory, the Declaration of Independence. It is a truth that lies beyond politics; it imparts to politics a fundamental human meaning. I mean the sovereignty of God over nations as well as over individual men. This is the principle that radically distinguishes America … from the Jacobin … tradition.’ The words ‘under God’ were introduced into the Pledge to distinguish our Constitution, and our political order, from the militant atheism of the Soviet Union. That atheism had its roots in the French revolutionaries’ –the Jacobins’ –effort to deny that government is limited by ‘a truth that lies beyond politics.

“It is possible to object that the Declaration (or the Gettysburg Address or other great American invocations of God) is not part of the Constitution … But don’t the religious clauses of the First Amendment – particularly the Free Exercise Clause – implicitly but clearly place us under God? What is free exercise for, if not, as James Madison himself says in his Memorial and Remonstrance, but for the discovery and performance of our duties to our Creator? American atheists, of course, can disagree about the real existence of a Creator, but they too, quite unlike the Jacobins or the Communists, are usually willing to fight and die for their freedom beyond politics that at least points, at first, in the direction of God” (Peter A. Lawler, author and Professor of Government at Berry College).

Deacon Joseph B. Gorini, Mechanicsburg PA <///>< [First Published October 6, 2013]

Category: Volume 4

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