Religion

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”

One of the predictable effects of the secularization of our culture and our society is the debasement of our collective moral fabric, our social mores. The absolute and fundamental matrix of values that form the basis of our Judeo-Christian society have steadily eroded, and at an accelerated rate over the past few decades. This erosion of traditional values has contributed to proliferation of a moral relativism that is profoundly evidenced by displacement of social standards and individual religious belief systems.

c45c6c37e8873f733f2bbba629d700685a861605a5252b951e200da2d32d574cThe late Alan Bloom, professor of philosophy at Cornell, Yale, and the University of Chicago, wrote, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” If all truth is relative, all morality becomes relative as well, for the elimination of absolute truth claims absolute morality as its first casualty.

This moral relativism has coincided predictably with the secularization of our culture. Supplanting our Judeo-Christian value system, by effectively removing it from the public realm, has effectively left our society as a ship without a moral rudder.

Moral relativism ensues when ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person’s individual choice. There are no absolutes. All morality is relative and up for individual interpretation. Fixed standards of value don’t exist aside from the changing whims of society, social trends, and sometimes even government regulation.

teaching-ethical-thinkingWilliam McGuffey, who authored the McGuffey’s Readers, which were the mainstay of America’s public school system for nearly a century, wrote: “Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man.” Today we witness the veracity of his statement with certitude.

Moral relativism weakens our collective cultural conscience. It weakens our ability to identify evil and our resolve to confront it as such. It leads to the perfidious exoneration of individual responsibility and culpability for perpetrators of evil, and seeks blame for such actions in social, parental, and educational failures. It prevents us from recognizing the evil in our midst that threatens our families, our neighborhoods, our culture, and our nation. And if allowed to continue unabated, it perpetuates the continued erosion of our entire civilization.

John Adams said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

qq1sgMosesMoralityBenjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence said. “The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be [based] in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.  Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.”

Noah Webster, for whom the Webster Dictionary is named, and often regarded as the father of American scholarship and education, echoed those sentiments. “The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution assures the free exercise of religion, yet due to fear of lawsuits from the ACLU and other malcontents, religion has been nearly expunged from the public square. The freedom of exercise clause has been consequently whittled to a sliver, as religious expression and any semblance of religious morality has been systematically extirpated from society in general.

secularismWe have become such a paranoid secular society due to political correctness that even the establishment clause of the First Amendment is incessantly challenged. And when you think about it, by far the most coercive element challenging the establishment clause is secularism itself, which is little more than a godless belief system that substitutes God with human intellect. A student uttering a Christian prayer at commencement no more violates separation of church and state (which isn’t even in the Constitution) than a secular commencement address. Neither violates the compulsory prohibition as expressed in the establishment clause, which disallows a state-sponsored religion.

moral-choicesLast November Rev. Billy Graham presented his final broadcast to the American people. In it he declared, “Our country’s in great need of a spiritual awakening. If ever there was a time this country needed the intervention of God, it is now. We can and should pray for America as a whole, but remember that when God sets out to change a nation, He begins by changing people. It starts with individuals.”

Former LDS Church President Harold B. Lee uttered a similar statement. “This nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail…. I have faith in America. You and I must have faith in America.”

America was not founded as, nor was it ever intended to be, a godless country. Secularism is euthanizing the soul of the nation, challenging even the bedrock institutions of civilization. If we are to survive, it will be by turning to God and reaffirming the natural rights acknowledged and ostensibly assured by our classical-liberal founders, and by those of moral clarity and conviction being involved in the political process.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

Richard Larsen

AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at [email protected]

Related Articles

5 Comments

  1. With progressives (Communists and socialists)Infesting all areas of the government and it’s assorted bureaucrats in control of whole agencies I fear as a country we are sooooooo Screwed.

  2. The constitutional principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square–far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views–publicly as well as privately. And indeed public expressions of religious views abound in our society. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government in any particular circumstance may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

    Nor does the constitutional separation of church and state prevent citizens from making decisions based on principles derived from their religions. Moreover, the religious beliefs of government officials naturally may inform their decisions on policies. The principle, in this context, merely constrains government officials not to make decisions with the predominant purpose or primary effect of advancing religion; in other words, the predominant purpose and primary effect must be nonreligious or secular in nature. A decision coinciding with religious views is not invalid for that reason as long as it has a secular purpose and effect.

    Wake Forest University has published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere. I commend it to you. http://divinity.wfu.edu/uploads/2011/09/divinity-law-statement.pdf

    Confusion understandably arises because the constitutional principle is sometimes equated with a widely supported political doctrine that goes by the same name and generally calls for political dialogue to be conducted on grounds other than religion. The underlying reasons for that political doctrine are many, but three primary ones are that (1) it facilitates discussion amongst people of all beliefs by predicating discussion on grounds accessible to all and (2) it avoids, in some measure at least, putting our respective religious beliefs directly “in play” in the political arena, so we’re not put in the position of directly disputing or criticizing each other’s religious beliefs in order to address a political issue and (3) since the government cannot make laws or decisions with the predominant purpose or primary effect of advancing religion, it makes little sense to urge the government to do just that. This political doctrine, of course, is not “law” (unlike the constitutional separation of church and state, which is), but rather is a societal norm concerning how we can best conduct political dialogue in a religiously diverse society. Reasonable people can disagree about whether the doctrine is a good idea or not and whether or how it should influence us in particular circumstances.

    1. I would really like to know where the words, “Separation of church and state” is mentioned in ANY of our legal and/or government documents?

      There IS NO AMENDMENT or law that states this.
      This is an IDEA and is tantamount to, “IF YOU TELL A LIE LONG ENOUGH, PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE IT.” And that is where SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE is. IT IS NOT IN ANY OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS’ DOCUMENTS – NO WHERE.

      1. Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. In the first place, the Supreme Court has thoughtfully, authoritatively, and repeatedly decided as much; it is long since established law. In the second place, the Court is right. In the Constitution, the founders did not simply say in so many words that there should be separation of powers and checks and balances; rather, they actually separated the powers of government among three branches and established checks and balances. Similarly, they did not merely say there should be separation of church and state; rather, they actually separated them by (1) establishing a secular government on the power of “We the people” (not a deity), (2) according that government limited, enumerated powers, (3) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (4) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (5), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day (by which governments generally were grounded in some appeal to god(s)), the founders’ avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. They later buttressed this separation of government and religion with the First Amendment, which affirmatively constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions.

        That the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the text of the Constitution assumes much importance, it seems, to some who once mistakenly supposed they were there and, upon learning of their error, fancy they’ve solved a Constitutional mystery. The absence of the metaphorical phrase commonly used to name one of its principles, though, is no more consequential than the absence of other phrases (e.g., separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism) used to describe other undoubted Constitutional principles.

        To the extent that some nonetheless would like confirmation–in those very words–of the founders’ intent to separate government and religion, Madison and Jefferson supplied it. Madison, who had a central role in drafting the Constitution and the First Amendment, confirmed that he understood them to “[s]trongly guard[] . . . the separation between Religion and Government.” Madison, Detached Memoranda (~1820). Indeed, he understood the original Constitution–without the First Amendment–to separate religion and government. He made plain, too, that they guarded against more than just laws creating state sponsored churches or imposing a state religion. Mindful that even as new principles are proclaimed, old habits die hard and citizens and politicians could tend to entangle government and religion (e.g., “the appointment of chaplains to the two houses of Congress” and “for the army and navy” and “[r]eligious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts”), he considered the question whether these actions were “consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom” and responded: “In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the United States forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion.”

        1. Another point that is not often taken into consideration is the very fabric of Freedom – that is, the principles of self-governing. We are only free because we choose to do what is right (the moral and deliberate decision not to violate another person’s rights nor those codes of society – even when no one is forcing us). The second we choose to violate the rights of another we initiate a government response. That response is a law and the enforcement thereof. That is never a one-time thing; that is accumulative. Every Law grows government. We need some law but truly free people do not need laws that regulate the very air they breathe!

          The very essence – the Spirit thereof – of the Constitution is the LIMITATION of Government. Government is the antecedent of freedom. Government equals Control. Once the government determines it needs to control (don’t kid yourself – it discovers THAT at birth) it will seek to control COMPLETELY. Government officials complain about the Constitution because it blocks that TOTAL Control.

          Our Founders wrote the Constitution with this mindset. Today the Government believes it can do whatever it wants!

          In that same thought the founders made the assumptions that as long as Government was limited there was no need to distinguish the separation of “Church and State”. In a truly Constitutional government it would not mattered anyway; just like Term limits, a balanced budget, and the distinction of real people from artificial people, it would not matter! Just like which party controls the Congress and the Whitehouse, it would not matter. Just like any Justice of the SCOTUS whose only job was to interpret Constitutional law, NOT ESTABLISH POLICY, it would not matter!

          Return the Federal government to the Supreme Law of the Land and you will make these arguments irrelevant! And you will return us to the Constitution ONLY by re establishing our First Principles and Social Moral Code!

Back to top button
Sign up for our Newsletter

* indicates required field




Email Format


Subscribe!