By Amy Lutz, TheCollegeConservative
January 12, 2012
After visiting the United States in the 19th century, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” The United States has been based on a resolute belief in God since her founding. This belief has provided a strong foundation for American values and exceptionalism which has long propelled our nation towards greatness. However, in recent decades, this principle has been prey to a barrage of outside attacks. Our “greatness” has faltered in proportion to the degradation of our God-centered foundation. When you take God out of the political equation, misfortune is always sure to follow.
One of the more recent assaults on the beliefs of God-fearing Americans comes, unsurprisingly, from the newly-formed “National Atheist Party.” The party espouses an array of left-leaning political positions including a pro-choice stance on abortion and an open borders approach to illegal immigration. It claims to be a party based upon America’s “secular” foundation, but that premise is at its heart, faulty. The NAP’s purpose is encompassed by the following statement on the front page of their website, “We are an American political party, uniquely formed as a true, constitutional movement, reaching out to all who seek a secular government as outlined in the First Amendment to our United States Constitution.” I do not deny that the National Atheist Party has every right to exist, but their assertion that a secular government is part of the First Amendment is nothing short of false.
The First Amendment to the Constitution states in regards to religion, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Nowhere in the Constitution or in our nation’s founding documents is a statement regarding the “secular” nature of the United States. That’s because God was a key part of the foundational equation of our republic. George Washington put this plainly when he stated, “While just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.” As Washington alluded to, the First Amendment gives the government the power to protect the exercise of religion while preventing a government-sponsored religion, or favoritism towards one faith practice. What the founders feared was certainly not religion itself, but theocracy. References to reliance upon God are pervasive throughout our founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, which refers to “nature’s God,” “the Creator,” and “Divine Providence.” Our nation draws its strength from a dedication to religious freedom and central foundation upon a belief in God. The NAP seeks to remove God from the political process which begs the question, what are they centered on? Where would America’s strength originate without reliance upon, and accountability to, God?
The NAP aligns itself with a variety of political positions, but as a whole, they are united upon the desire to remove God and religion from the public sphere. However, without a foundation based on a higher power, government is largely dependent upon human error and imperfection and; therefore, destined for corruption. Since our founding, God-fearing Americans have believed that God bestows upon us inalienable rights that governments are designed to protect. All God-fearing (whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) people hold themselves accountable to the higher power that bestows such blessings upon them. It follows that a government founded upon a belief in God is accountable to Him.
The question stands, to who is a government without God accountable? It’s certainly not the people. Without the concept of God-given, inalienable rights, the government is “free” to “create” any right they see as necessary. Think the “right” to health care (which the NAP strongly endorses). In this system, the government may “give” rights, but they can also take them away, making the people’s rights dependent upon governmental decision. How can the government be accountable to those that depend upon them? Rights become contingent upon one’s support for the government because the relationship between the people and a government which “creates” right is one of conditions. If the people allow the government to do what they wish, then they can keep the rights that they have been “given.” A government without God is one with unlimited power. In some ways, government takes the place of god. Conversely, a relationship between a nation and the true God is one without conditions. We are the recipients of God’s unconditional love and our rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable despite our human tendency to make mistakes. This breeds freedom and innovation because we do not have to perpetually align ourselves with the “conditions” set for the receipt of our rights. A relationship between the “god” of government; however, is conditional and exploitative.
Conclusively, I certainly support the NAP’s right to exist, just as I support their rights to espouse no faith all together. However, the idea that we do not need God’s influence is a dangerous one. Remember, “America is great because she is good.” Without a God-centered morality, American exceptionalism slips away and our foundation crumbles. A nation without God is one without an unshakable foundation and in this time of economic, political, and social turmoil, we need Him more than ever.