- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Current efforts to persuade Americans about the existence of a constitutional provision for the separation of church and state match those that seek to eliminate freedom of speech or the right to bear arms. Many will be surprised to learn that "separation of church and state" is not a phrase to be found in the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, the Founding Fathers did decide against a dominant, state religion. In our time, that decision is being used to buttress the argument against any role God might have in the affairs of this nation. In our courtrooms, we no longer have to swear upon the Bible to tell the truth. Our current president has made perjury a matter of opinion. Even on customs forms, we are no longer required to sign our names under oath.

The generation that claims to speak for America just now proudly proclaims its independence of divine providence and looks with condescension, if not contempt, upon poor unenlightened souls who have yet to emancipate themselves from the heavenly connection.

People who continue to believe in God are suspect at best. When it comes to the Christian Coalition or, as they are called by their detractors, the Religious Right, they are insinuated to be the enemy, if not the closest things to Nazis.

The form of government agreed to by the Founding Fathers "a republic, Madame, if you can keep it," said Ben Franklin did away with kings and their divine right to rule once and for all. God's authority was not to be used as a license to dominate others.

Of course, even the divine confirmation of monarchs came with strings attached, you might say. The crown, and other symbols of authority, were always bestowed by a pope, an archbishop, a cardinal a representative of God in other words. Thus supremacy of the power to which even the king had to subordinate himself was confirmed at every coronation.

When Thomas Jefferson drafted the birth certificate of our nation, he and the others who came to sign it declared independence from Great Britain, and declared independence from King George III.

They did not declare independence from God.

As is well known, there are four references to divine authority in the Declaration of Independence. Of these, the second contains the keystone of our Republic: " … that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… ."

In order to understand the significance of this passage, we need to remind ourselves one more time that kings were subject to divine appointment because the ultimate authority thus resided in a place beyond the reach of man.

Articulating our unalienable rights not as granted, but as affirmed, established their existence prior to the U.S. Constitution.

Acknowledging God as the source of our unalienable rights placed those rights forever beyond the reach of man.

By the same token, if we forsake God, those rights are no longer guaranteed. At once, they may be discussed, debated, altered, eliminated. They become the battleground of political activists, the plaything of demagogues.

Nothing opens the door for a totalitarian regime as surely as the elimination of God as source and guarantor of our rights.

Do it, and it is only a matter of time before the human ruler claims omnipotence.

You do not have to be religious to recognize that the survival of this republic is contingent on God's continuing role in the nation's affairs.

The daily assaults waged upon our rights and liberties go hand-in-hand with the gradual elimination of God, disguised as "separation of church and state." We are told, also, that "all religions are the same," and that nothing really distinguishes human beings from animals or vice versa.

If all religions were the same, religious tolerance would exist the world over. As it happens, the United States of America has been unique in its tolerance of religions. That tolerance is inseparable from the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers.

Those who warn of a coming constitutional convention are most likely to see the handwriting on the wall. All the so-called rights created during the past 30 years, all the new rights demanded today serve to break up the foundations upon which the edifice we call America was built. A constitutional convention would finish the job. The first order of business would be to prohibit any reference to the Creator, "so as not to offend those who believe in something else, or in nothing at all," being the battle cry.

Nothing matches the importance new prophets attach to the elimination of a divine presence. "See," they seem to be telling us, "you don't need God. You need the American Civil Liberties Union. You need the Sierra Club. You need the Progressive Caucus. You need us," the new prophets say. "We will give you all the rights you want, and then some."

They will so long as it serves the agenda.

The past eight years have revealed the agenda: to alter every important aspect of the nation established here between 1776 and 1787.

As we contemplate our president, his wife, and the Cabinet they have put together, as we contemplate who is currently running America's justice system, foreign policy or defense, our national motto "In God we Trust" acquires a whole new significance.



Balint Vazsonyi, concert pianist and historian, is director of the Center for the American Founding and author of "America's 30 Years War: Who Is Winning?"

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