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An Essential Liberty


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essential-liberty-carl-andersonNational Review:

On the occasion of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spoke of the ideological manipulation of history that occurred under Soviet Communism. It was, he said, “a closing, a locking up, of the national heart, [and an] amputation of the national memory.” He warned that when this happens, a nation “has no memory of its own self. It is deprived of its spiritual unity. And even though compatriots apparently speak the same language, they suddenly cease to understand one another.”

Religion has long been a key component in America’s national life. But today it is increasingly marginalized and erased. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that “religion does not give [Americans] their taste for freedom. It singularly facilitates their use of it.” Our Founders declared that we are “endowed” by our “Creator” with inalienable rights. Our first president’s Farewell Address insisted that “religion and morality are indispensable supports” of our “political prosperity,” and added that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can be retained without religion.” John Adams asserted that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

More recently, in his inaugural address, President Kennedy spoke of the rights for which our “forebears fought,” namely “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” And in his historic letter from the Birmingham jail, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. maintained that he and his followers “were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy” that, he said, “were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”

But just over half a century later, there is a profound break with such ideals. At the memorial to Reverend King on our national mall, unveiled last year, there is not a single reference to God. Not one. There is no more shocking symbol of the ongoing campaign to drive religion out of our public life than this. King’s statue looks across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial dedicated to the president now championed by secularists for inventing a “wall of separation” between Church and State.Scissors-32x32.png

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