God and guns: The foundation of our nation
The twin ‘pillars of American life and liberty’
This Wednesday marks “Ash Wednesday,” the day that starts the 40-day period (Lent) leading to Easter. We respect all people’s First Amendment rights to choose their religious preferences. Unfortunately, that isn’t the sentiment of our world or even a large majority in our country anymore.
Fox News reported this past year that: “The truth is, [religious] persecution is more prevalent and geographically dispersed than any other time in history. Approximately 215 million Christians worldwide experience very high to extreme persecution. Newsweek reported in January 2018 that ‘the persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today than at any time in history.'”
Back in America, anti-Christian sentiment continues to grow on public colleges and universities. Again, as Fox News reported, “At campuses throughout the country, outspoken Christians are regularly demeaned, debased and targeted for their beliefs. Academics, social groups, and college organizations regularly ridicule Christians by calling them hateful, bigoted, and privileged, among other labels.”
Our Second Amendment rights are not fairing any better these days than our First Amendment rights.
More and more states are having to create “sanctuaries for the Second Amendment,” just as was recently done in counties in Utah and Virginia. These actions are being taken in various states because of local officials anticipation of further unconstitutional legislation restricting gun sales and ownership at the state or federal level.
But how crazy is it that local officials have to create “Second Amendment sanctuaries” when America’s founders declared the entire United States a Second Amendment sanctuary through our Bill of Rights?
God and guns are what our country was founded upon. Any new student of the Revolutionary period quickly learns that. They are what keep us strong, or what should keep us strong. They are there for our defense.
God and guns were so important to our founders that they established our protection to exercise them in the first two amendments of our Constitution – the uninhibited and unrestricted freedom to choose our own religion and bear our own firearms.
But, more and more, these pillars of American life and liberty are being attacked and abandoned, not only out of sheer bias but ignorance of our founders, the Revolutionary period and our U.S. Constitution. Instead, these pivotal American rights have become the brunt of cultural jokes and are often regarded as biased lifestyle components of “rednecks” and rural citizens. The indifference and lack of education about ALL of our Bill of Rights gravely concerns me. And there is nothing funny about it.
There has been some movement in our country to get away from our Second Amendment rights. Just a few years back, the Supreme Court even wrangled over the question: Should the government allow private citizens or only public servants (“state militias”) “to keep and bear arms”?
Is someone joking? The Bill of Rights either encompasses the privileges of every citizen in every amendment or none at all. As Chief Justice John Roberts asked several years ago, “If it is limited to state militias, why would they say ‘the right of the people’? … What is reasonable about a total ban on possession?”
Could the 27 words of the Second Amendment be any clearer? “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (italics mine). In the early days of our country, many states had gun laws that aligned with the constitutional standard, so it was no big deal to affirm that right on a national level.
If we doubt the true meaning of the Second Amendment, consider the words of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote near the end of his life, in 1823: “On every question of construction [of the Constitution], carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
That is why Jefferson even encouraged his young nephew Peter Carr in a letter, “Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.”
And as far as God’s place in our country, what further proof do we need than the actual monuments in Washington, D.C.? Religious inscriptions on Washington’s buildings testify to yesteryear’s commitment to our Judeo-Christian heritage and freedoms.
Our National motto, “In God We Trust,” is inscribed on our currency. It is also etched above the rostrum of the speaker’s head in the U.S House of Representatives. In addition, a marble bas-relief of Moses is the central and only frontal depiction of 23 reliefs of great historical lawgivers that surround the walls of the chamber with all of them looking in Moses’ direction. Is it just a coincidence that Moses is the central figure and the only one looking down on Congress?
A statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments is also in the rotunda of the Library of Congress, and another statue of Moses in the Main Reading Room. Another depiction of Moses holding the tablets as a central figure among others is on the northern peak of the U.S. Supreme Court building. Actually, Moses and/or the Ten Commandments are depicted a whopping 64 times on the U.S. Supreme Court Building.
The Ten Commandments are also displayed on the floor of the National Archives, just 100 feet or so in front of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Consider also the statuary in front of the Reagan Building, titled “Liberty of Worship,” which rests on the Ten Commandments.
The prayer of President John Adams, the first president to occupy the White House, was inscribed on the mantel in the State Dining Room: “I pray to heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that hereafter inhabit it. … May none but the honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
A stained-glass window in the chapel of the U.S. Capitol depicts George Washington with the words of Psalm 16:1 inscribed around him with the heading “This Nation under God” above his head.
On the aluminum capstone at the very top of the Washington Monument are the chiseled words, “Laus Deo” (Latin for “Praise be to God”). Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, reminded his colleagues a few years ago that “Praise be to God” is on the east side that faces the Capitol and from where the sun rises. He elaborated, “Every day when the first rays of God’s sun hit the very first thing in this nation’s capital, those words are illuminated.”
Do we believe any of these Judeo-Christian displays could be erected today in Washington, let alone in any other civic setting across the country? Why is it that those in yesteryear didn’t decry them as violations of the separation of church and state? Answer: It’s because they didn’t see displaying God or religion as a violation of the First Amendment but a practice of it.
One of the genius acts of America’s Founding Fathers was to provide and secure a foundation for our freedom of religious belief. The First Amendment simply reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It protects public or private speech and belief, whether in the corridors of Congress or the classrooms of college campuses. I believe in the separation of religious sectarianism from government and protecting our religious institutions, such as churches and synagogues, from the long arm of the federal government. I don’t believe, however, in an erroneous interpretation of the Bill of Rights that would restrict religious or speech freedoms or produce a secular-progressive barrier that bans all religious influence in society or even civic circles.
Whatever your religious persuasion, don’t be ashamed of it. This is America. And that’s one of the things that still makes us a great nation. In God We Trust.
As the legendary southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, which produced massive hits like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird,” put it in their song (and album with the same title), “God and Guns”:
God and guns
Keep us strong
That’s what this country
Was founded on
Well we might as well give up and run
If we let them take our God and guns