A Radical Concept of God-Given Rights – Long Live the Bill of Rights

The Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention were radical in their ideas and in their actions. The very action of taking apart the foundation of the existing government under the Articles of Confederation and replacing it with a much different government was extremely radical. Even more radical was the reality that the men in Philadelphia wrote into this document, which would be called the Constitution of the United States of America, the process whereby the document they produced would include a genuine process of ratification by the people, as well as procedures for amending the law of the land.

After hammering out the Constitution in the hot summer months in Philadelphia, an even more radical concept that showed up was that the Founding Fathers had the audacity to admit their own fallibility by entrusting their finished document to the people in the various states to accept and approve or dismiss their hard work. For the most part, it was not acceptable to those in the ratifying conventions. Especially ironic was that while James Madison’s Virginia Plan was the most acceptable of the various proposed methods of improving the Articles of Confederation during the Convention, the newly written Constitution was not even acceptable to the leaders in Virginia as it was considered for ratification.

The primary stumbling block became the absence of a Bill of Rights. In many parts of the U.S. there was a serious outcry that without a Bill of Rights there would be no ratification. Even Thomas Jefferson, who was serving as minister to France at the time and had been regularly corresponding with James Madison during and after the Constitutional Convention, expressed his serious disagreement with the absence of a bill of rights. In a letter to Madison dated December 20, 1787, Jefferson stated that “… a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse…”

Minister Jefferson, the one who had written in the Declaration a manifesto for freedom and the truth that the rights of human beings were derived from God definitely had a strong opinion on a Bill of Rights for the new government.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Jefferson advocated that such a bill of rights should include “… freedom of religion, freedom    of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction of monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact…” In the end, Madison went back to work to draft such a document to ensure the survival of individual freedoms in a world filled with tyranny.

In essence, the eventual document produced by Madison became a cornerstone of freedom that charged the government with protecting American citizens from abuses of power that were regularly experienced in the majority of nations during most of human history. As a result of the Bill of Rights and the subsequent amendments, a powerful foundation was created for the development and advancement of freedom in the world. In reality, it is the government established by the U.S. Constitution that permitted a greater number of the world’s peoples to have had access to more substantial individual freedoms than ever before within the history of humankind.

When summed up objectively, minus all partisan political spin, and despite ideologically oriented intellectual criticism, the United States still shows up as a nation that places ultimate value upon freedom and liberty, and the Constitution is the cornerstone for that to exist in a very troubled and turbulent world. However in recent years, the bedrock document of fundamental freedoms Bill of Rights has increasingly come under attack, but not only from a broader base of direct assaults by international terrorists, but by men and women empowered by the government of the United States, namely elected “public servants” as well as their appointees.

It is indeed ironic when the very people entrusted to “support,” such as in the case of a President: “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” are capable of weakening the Law of the Land. Additionally, it is ironic that there are those within the U.S. government that have no intention of helping to defend the Constitution. Many Americans are confused by this and many leaders within America seem paralyzed and unable to stand up against such deceit within the halls of our cherished government institutions. However, it is not confusing at all. It represents a division of America more fundamental than Democrat and Republican.

Throughout American history, there have been very serious political disagreements between the various political parties that played with the political arena. But within the last 40 years or so, the rise of those who primarily believe in the assertion that rights are derived from the government has grown exponentially. Unknowingly, in our lifetimes, Americans have increasingly entrusted people with positions of power that have no sense of humility or respect toward the God that was involved in the formation and foundation of the United States of America. If this is true, then this country is not existing in the manner in which it had been created – upon God-given rights.

It is definitely time for those who love God, who love this nation as it was created by the Founders, to re-examine their fundamental beliefs. It is the time for all good men and women    to look deeply within themselves, and to decide whether they are willing to stand by and make feeble and inconsequential gestures about losing their freedoms, or whether they will take a stand to genuinely express their belief in these God-given rights. It is time to re-affirm our willingness to sacrifice for the gifts of freedom and defend these precious rights. It is time to be radical!