July 2, 2016


The Roots of the Tree of Liberty in America (Cardinal Donald Wuerl, 7/02/16, Real Clear Religion)

Said John Adams, "Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker" (Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law (1765)). Thomas Jefferson concurred, asserting that our rights and freedom are not given to us at the beneficence of some worldly ruler, but rather, "God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time" (The Rights of British America (1774)).

It is remarkable how comfortable the founders were in recognizing God as an integral necessity for a free nation. In declaring us to be a free and independent nation, they affirmed that freedom is endowed to us by our Creator, expressing also their "firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence" in securing our independence.

The founders uniformly agreed that freedom would be in grave danger if people were to live as if God did not exist or if God were to otherwise be excluded from the life of the nation. Asked Jefferson, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?" (Notes on the State of Virginia, XVIII). President George Washington attested as well in his Farewell Address, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."

When he first arrived here, the French philosopher and observer Alexis de Tocqueville was particularly struck by the religious aspect of America and by how, with its transcendent moral order, religion helped to lift up and preserve free society. "Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society," he wrote, "but nevertheless it must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste 
for freedom, it facilitates the use of it" (Democracy in America, vol. I, ch. 17 (1835)).

Posted by at July 2, 2016 1:33 PM