While learning about the Bill of Rights in a history class, I watched a video talking about the rights in the 1st amendment. The video was insightful and knowledgeable—but one little thing it said left me staring blankly, my mouth open in astonishment. The guy in the video said something to the effect of “freedom of speech, press, assembly, etc; these rights only exist because they are provided for in the 1st amendment.” Immediately my brain went into alert mode. Objection!—our unalienable rights do not exist because the government ensures them. We as humanity created government to protect those rights that we already had. Rights existed before the creation of government. Many people will roll their eyes at this and say: “Come on, give the guy a break—one little mistake doesn’t matter that much. He got his point across either way.” Yes, he did get a point across to me, but it was a much different point than what he was trying to prove. The point I learned is that many people are confused in their definitions of rights and where they come from.
Why is this definition so important? To understand this, we must know where unalienable rights come from. Thomas Jefferson writes in the Declaration of Independence: “…[mankind] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”. Notice the word I have put in bold. Thomas Jefferson didn’t say “we are endowed by government with our unalienable Rights”. Every human is born with the God-given gift of human rights. This is the thing that distinguishes us from animals. We have the right to choose liberty, life, and property. Our rights come solely from God.
If we agree upon this, then we realize that two things happen when we attribute our rights to coming from the government. First, if the government has given us our rights, then doesn’t it have the power—the God-like power— to take them away? If this is the truth, then a tyrannical government can make any law whatsoever and we have no power or right to stand against it. The second thing that happens is that by giving the role of God to the government, we are creating another god. Suddenly we are not a mono-theistic people—we are giving worship and gratitude to a different god for life, liberty, and happiness. We are ignoring the hand of our actual Creator and directing our thanks to something man-made, something God created as a tool for us.
If this sounds bad, that’s because it is. These definitions and results are real—and people are consistently forgetting them. We have thrown aside the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other God before me.” Just like the creation of the “Goddess of Reason” during the French Revolution, we too have created our own god. It’s no longer a faith-based statement of: “God will provide”. Nowadays, with the increasing amount of welfare and government funding, we say: “There’s no need to fear; the government will take care of us.” Do we realize what we are doing when we say this? Do we realize the somber, long-term consequences of these interpretations? I sincerely hope we don’t—I hope we are ignorant rather than intentional of creating another god. But I also know that if we don’t start to realize soon, our wake-up call will be foundation-cracking. Let’s just hope we’re built on the one solid foundation that will last through the shaking.