PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “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.”
Most know these words are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence – written and adopted right here in Philadelphia. Mere blocks from where I broadcast each morning.READ MORE: Police Believe Suburban Philadelphia Homes Being Targeted By Organized Theft Ring: 'You Don't Think Of It Happening Here'
I have a hunch the mayor of Philadelphia thought little, if at all of these words as he helped announce the American Bible Society’s plans this week at 5th and Market.
As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center – a privately funded project tagged at $60 million dollars – will be devoted to “the influence and importance of the Bible in American life.”
Roy Peterson, CEO of the American Bible Society sees as a natural fit on Independence Mall. Peterson said the Founders were profoundly impacted by the values and ideas in the Bible while drafting the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
“The framers were inspired by words of Scripture,” he said. To understand their writing, “you need to know something about the Bible.”
I don’t doubt this was the furthest thing from the mind of Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney and most of the liberal press covering the event.
Despite the annually estimated 250,000 visitors and countless millions spent by faith-based visitors the world over – local press and Philadelphia’s mayor Jim Kenney couldn’t help but turn the event into a liberal argument.
“We are in an environment of hate right now and we need to as a city, if we can’t get the rest of the country to do it, we need to as a city, fight off that hatred and fight off that divisiveness and circle the wagons and take care of each other. And I think the American Bible Society’s project here will crystallize that religious freedom for all the people who visit here and all the people who live here.”
What a profoundly stupid thing to say if you understand what God’s role in our founding represents.
It’s not about warding off “hate” or “divisiveness.” While those are certainly not faith-based concepts, it’s not the role God and scripture played in our founding.
It wasn’t just Philadelphia’s hyper-liberal mayor who misunderstood the day. The Philadelphia Inquirer felt the event needed a counter opinion. So, they sought the input of a local academic to jump in and dispute the roll of faith and God in our founding altogether.
“I’m not sure it’s historically accurate to say the founders drew their thoughts from the Bible,” said Kermit Roosevelt, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School as well as great-great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.
“I don’t think the U.S. Constitution reflects Christian ideals or doctrine. The Bible is not useful to interpret the Constitution.”READ MORE: Hyram Hill, Son Of Philadelphia Police Officer, Killed In Targeted Shooting In North Philly, Sources Say
That’s frightening. I’d ask the good professor just who grants and guarantees our rights if not God. If his answer is man, then may I be the first to say “God help us.”
In fact, a belief in God is a belief in free will – the belief one is free to be hateful and divisive if they so choose. Speak, worship, assemble, and write whatever and wherever they choose in the public square.
While those of faith believe God will judge those who harbor hate, our Founders never suggested the Bill of Rights should dictate our citizens’ secular behaviors and activities.
Rather, God gifts our nation and its citizens with “certain unalienable rights.” That’s the right to, yes, even be hateful. It also grants you the right to admonish such hatred from the pulpit of your house of worship.
The freedom of speech and most behaviors are wholly separate from a freedom to worship – yet both are equally codified.
Bottom line, our Founder’s belief in a higher power and in the Bible threatens liberal politicians who seek to legislate behaviors with which they disagree.
The Bible doesn’t endorse hurting, harming, or harassing, of course. But if your speech is hate for someone or an entire group – our Founders believed your God granted right to free speech allows you such ugliness.
While at the same time they believed in my God granted right to worship and tell you God will judge harshly those who behave in such a way.
Free will, free speech, free assembly, free worship – that’s the greatness of God-granted rights. Enshrined by our Founders and steeped in the Judeo-Christian teachings of biblical scripture.
They are “unalienable” rights and at the same time often mutually exclusive.
I call it walking and chewing gum at the same time.
The Founders were about “negative liberties.” That is, constructing a government with rules prohibiting it from encroaching upon much of its citizens behaviors, activities, and speech.
The only authority they believed granted and guaranteed such freedom was God. They believed this because they were aware of the dangers of politicians like Jim Kenney.MORE NEWS: Wilmington City Council Passes No-Confidence Vote Against Police Chief Robert Tracy
Politicians who prefer to see themselves as God as opposed to deferring to Him.