God-Given Liberties

2434F876-2167-420C-A82A-2DDA269DB4CCI am intrigued by Mike Pence’s use of the phrase “God-given liberties” in his tweet. I’m sure he is using language that religious people and/or those who believe in God could relate to.

But I do wonder why he couldn’t have used words such as “inherent,” “self-evident,” or “unalienable,” rather than “God-given” to describe these liberties enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

I’m pragmatic enough to understand the broad appeal of the phrase “God-given” when it comes to liberties and rights, since most Americans claim Christianity, in one form or another, as their religion and also espouse a belief in God.

I see references to “God-given” all that time, so Pence’s phrasing is not that unusual. But I am a little bothered by the implication that rights and liberties bestowed upon Americans by the Founding Fathers are “God-given,” especially since the word “God” appears nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

Some might argue that the rights and liberties the Founding Fathers articulated when they wrote the Constitution, which is the very foundation of our republic, are God-given because their actions were guided by the hand of God. Perhaps our Founding Fathers simply forgot to give God credit for their work.

What is a little hard for me to swallow, though, is the somewhat arrogant notion held by many Americans that the “Almighty” is nationalistic enough to have granted us — Americans — these “God-given” rights and liberties while withholding many of them from “his children” in countless other countries.

Americans are convinced that God is on our side, plain and simple. Yet Christianity teaches that all humans are God’s children. So if these rights and liberties that Pence wrote of are “God-given,” how come God didn’t give them equally to all of his children around the globe?

Why would God pick and choose only certain people to give these “God-given” liberties and rights to? Why does he give some people more rights, and better rights, than others?

Why does God grant us freedom of religion, but withhold that freedom from Jews in various nations at countless times throughout history? What was God thinking when he permitted the genocide against native Americans and when he allowed white Americans to enslave black Africans?

Why do we, in America, deserve the “God-given” right to a fair and speedy trial in front of a jury of our peers, but those who live in Islamic countries, for example, don’t enjoy that right? If it’s God-given, shouldn’t they, who are also God’s children, have that same right? Are we, in America, God’s favorite children while those in other countries are his mistreated and abused stepchildren?

Did God guide the actions of our Founding Fathers, but not the actions of those who founded other countries? Why has God chosen to bless the lives of people living in America, while not blessing the lives of all people on Earth?

And as to Mike Pence, does he believe that a woman’s right to manage her own reproductive liberties, that a gay’s or a lesbian’s right to marry the person of their choice, and that immigrant parents’ rights to be with their children are not among the God-given liberties envisioned in our Constitution?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. So, like everyone else, I made up answers to fit my particular world view. To me, the reason that this omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is so inconsistent in the way he treats his children is really quite simple: there is no omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God.

Man created God in man’s own image in order to fill in the gaps in our knowledge and understanding of our very existence, of why and how it all began and what it all means. God is a device that enables us to try to make some sense out of the things that we find incomprehensible and unknowable.

As this concept of an all knowing, all seeing God, an entity to be both revered and feared, evolved, it became a powerful lever useful to the High Priests, kings, and nation leaders as a means to control and manipulate human behavior.

Naturally, all of the various religious hierarchies embraced this “God-fearing” theme and vigorously promoted it to the gullible masses who longed for an explanation, regardless of how inconceivable or incredible that explanation was, for why things are the way they are.

But hey, if people want to embrace that kind of thing in order to feel better and feel empowered, that’s fine by me.

Apparently, that is one of their God-given liberties.

30 thoughts on “God-Given Liberties

  1. The Haunted Wordsmith July 2, 2018 / 6:20 pm

    What’s even scarier is that some groups of conservative Christians (many denominations in fact) believe that before Armageddon, Jewish people will convert to Christianity (see the error of their ways) and that’s why they defeat Satan again. Many believe, because they feel persecuted, that we are living in the times just before the second coming. Trump (or Pence, they are in different camps) will be the leader that brings it (hence why so many American’s are happy with us recognizing an international holy site as their capital). God doesn’t appear in the Declaration or Constitution because of religious freedom, not tolerance. Too many people forget the difference. But, then again we have lost all tolerance for things that we don’t agree with lately. Now that the White House itself is violating the Hatch Act, its an every man for himself mentality. Ethics and decency went out the window. It really puts a sour note on the upcoming 4th of July as we celebrate his “Be America” and “America First” when we are, were, and will always be a nation of immigrants, dreamers, and doers. I don’t wish ill will on any one (especially a parent), but this nonsense has to stop some way.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Fandango July 2, 2018 / 7:05 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Teresa. I can’t believe that in the 21st century, people are still this superstitious. You’re right. This nonsense has to stop.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine Bolton July 2, 2018 / 7:54 pm

    Oh I am with you on this issue. I always think that when I watch football players gather in a circle and pray for a win. It’s nuts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Richmond Road July 2, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      Amazing too, how often sports people thank their God after victory but stay a bit mute on the subject after a loss. God likes winners, it would seem.

      But seriously …… does anybody REALLY believe this claptrap anymore? Or has God just become a convenient figure of speech?

      God is a good destination for parking your own responsibilities…. and politicians specialise in that, of course.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Fandango July 2, 2018 / 10:22 pm

        “does anybody REALLY believe this claptrap anymore?” Yes, apparently there are more Americans who believe it than don’t. Well, they believe it, they just don’t behave it.

        Like

        • Richmond Road July 3, 2018 / 3:56 am

          I think that the statistics here in Oz are inclined the other way. Nevertheless, there are a lot that ‘claim’ to believe …. some have personal agendas to push and want God’s help, some are just hedging thier bets and some are just scared of the truth. I think those that believe without any thought of reward or assistance for their belief are very limited. I might be wrong, though ….

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael July 2, 2018 / 10:12 pm

    Its too early for me to do much more than read with one eye still closed and nod in agrement with u…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat Myrman July 3, 2018 / 6:07 am

    …standing “O” from the peanut gallery here…bravo Fandango. I agree totally. Like many of us, I was raised in christianity. It was a nice thought when I was younger and naive, that there was an all powerful diety watching over me…that I am never alone. But as I matured, I have realized that “god” is truly a being in the eyes of the beholder and formed in the image of its devotees. Pence is a scary man. If Trump ever does get impeached I hope they have enough dirt on Pence to remove hims too. I believe he is even more dangerous than Trump because he believes his existence is “god-ordained”. Peace my friend…keep on keepin’ on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango July 3, 2018 / 7:33 am

      “If Trump ever does get impeached I hope they have enough dirt on Pence to remove him too.” Amen to that! 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  5. newepicauthor July 3, 2018 / 6:38 am

    God doesn’t do anything except give credence and authority to the ethical claims that we want to endorse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 3, 2018 / 7:36 am

      Unfortunately, that’s true. But people can still be ethical and moral without believing in God.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Osyth July 3, 2018 / 8:13 am

    Religion is the opiate of the masses is a version of what Karl Marx said and it appears it is still tragically true. It is also true that religion as a concept was devised to control the masses … that I believe it is all garbage is neither here not there. What is far more sinister is the use of such language in Tweets that are read by precisely those fearful masses and whom this administration seeks to manipulate and control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 3, 2018 / 8:50 am

      The sheep following their shepherd…who is leading them to the slaughterhouse.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. James Pyles July 3, 2018 / 1:30 pm

    Actually, according to Wikipedia (I’m not going to spam you with URLs unless you want them):

    “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all human beings by their Creator, and which governments are created to protect.

    And according to something called “The Journal of the American Revolution:”

    The resulting Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by his fellow delegates, contains a theory of rights that depends on a Supreme Being, not man, for its validity. The Declaration states 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.” It is possible to see in these words an affirmation of the Founders’ religious faith, but God-given rights had less to do with theology in the summer of 1776 than they did with rebellion.

    America was never a Christian nation, but our founding fathers were deists. That is, they believed in a single Creator, but not specifically a traditionally Christian Creator, so their understanding of our rights being given by a Supreme Being is hardly off the table or irrelevant.

    Also, Pence is a Christian and is pretty open and devout about his faith, so this language coming from him is probably how he thinks.

    I know that in certain circles, whenever the word “Christian” is used, there’s a reflexive reaction to think “super-fundamentalist,” “hater,” “basher,” and all things “Westboro Baptist Church,” but that’s not necessarily the case.

    I’m a Christian and from reading my blog, you pretty much know how I roll. If this were the appropriate venue, I’d post a Jewish commentary on how all the evils in the world aren’t religion’s fault or God’s fault, but have been caused by unscrupulous people hiding behind God’s skirts, if you will.

    Sorry, but I skimmed some of the comments and felt that I needed to balance the scales a little bit. I’m not a stereotype, I’m a human being. So are the people of faith I know, and pretty much all of them are flawed, imperfect people just like me.

    Like

    • Fandango July 3, 2018 / 2:39 pm

      “…all the evils in the world aren’t religion’s fault or God’s fault, but have been caused by unscrupulous people hiding behind God’s skirts, if you will.” True, but many of those evils done by unscrupulous people have been done in the name of God. I don’t automatically assign a negative connotation to the word Christian, but I do resent how many Christians attempt to push their “Christian agenda” on everyone else and to use “God’s will” as their justification. If we’re not careful, America may be on a path to becoming a Christian theocracy. And while “creator” was used in the Declaration of Independence, neither “creator” nor “God” were used in the Constitution, which is why I objected to Pence’s tweet. It’s misleading and factually inaccurate.

      Sorry, sort of a flow of consciousness response to your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

      • James Pyles July 3, 2018 / 3:01 pm

        No worries. Sort of like “A Handmaid’s Tale.” That novel was written in 1985 when Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Jerry Falwell and the so-called “Moral Majority” was all over the map. That was more than thirty years ago, and the dread of America becoming a Christian theocracy is no more real now as it was then. Seen from my point of view, there’s just as much likelyhood of a Progressive totalitarian regime popping up and taking over.

        My guess is that we’ll never go to either extreme, although those of us over age 60 can tell a definate shift to the left and areligion, especially in the entertainment industry, which has always been used to subtly (or not so subtly) affect the hearts and minds of America. It’s just 50 or 60 years ago, social norms and cultural values were shifted in a different direction.

        It would be really, really nice if *everyone* would realize that our nation is made up of many, many different peoples, all of whom have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit” of happiness.

        As far as Christianity goes, the majority of believers I know aren’t interested in forcing Jesus down anyone’s throat. Sure, those with the conviction will protest outside of an abortion clinic because they believe that unborn children are still human beings created in the image of God, but that’s not much different than people protesting loudly outside of a butcher’s shop in Berkeley (I wrote on my blog about it), protesting outside Chick-fil-A restaurants, or wearing pink hats and protesting in large numbers in major metropolitan areas.

        In other words, protesting based on your belief system is a right all citizens have.

        I don’t write too very often on my fiction writing blog about religion, but I do sometimes because it’s part of me. I even crafted an essay about why I think it’s important for religious and spiritual topics to be included in SF/Fantasy books and stories without being banned.

        The Christians you fear are in the minority but because they’re loud, it seems like they’re in the majority. Hopefully, when discussing such things, I leave room enough for different voices to be heard, whether I agree with them or not. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it works both ways, at least based on my reading of the others commenting on this blog post.

        If we could just sit down over a cup of coffee or a beer, I think we’d find that neither one of us is so bad after all. Sure, there will always be Christians who do heinous things in the name of God (and I assure you, God disapproves and they’ll have to square that with Him someday), but that’s because of human nature, which we are all subject to, not because of God.

        By the way, I appreciate the opportunity to dialog about what I believe to be an important topic. It’s nice to be able to “chat” rather than to “duel.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fandango July 3, 2018 / 3:42 pm

          I’m over 60…way over…and I do see a disturbing trend toward the more radical Christian positions (like those of Mike Pence). I see gay rights being rolled back. Women’s reproductive rights being restricted, with Roe v Wade in jeopardy. I see black and brown people being marginalized and ostracized — and white supremacy being validated — in ways that haven’t been seen in decades. At a time when more and more Americans are becoming religiously unaffiliated, I see a greater push by the conservative right’s power structure to impose more rigorous religious beliefs into our lives. I suppose it’s a last ditch effort to maintain (and impose?) religious influence and control over a populace that has turned somewhat apathetic about religious dogma. We may not be at “The Handmaid’s Tale” stage yet, but we are slowly moving in that direction. At least that’s the way I see it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • James July 3, 2018 / 4:01 pm

            It’s pretty amazing that could happen so quickly after eight years of the Obama administration. While I don’t deny that under the current administration, people probably have a reason to fear their freedoms will be curtailed, I doubt it’ll go that far, or if it does, that it’ll stay that long. The next President will probably be elected out of desperation and anyone would be better than Trump, so the pendulum will swing back. I don’t like Donald Trump but neither do I fear him. In a few years, someone else will be President, and he’ll go on to do something else.

            In the early 1960s, people were mortally afraid we’d be nuked during the Cuban missile crisis. We weren’t. Not long ago, people feared being nuked by North Korea, and Trump, for all his bluster, seems to have made them stand down by standing up to them. Believe me. If you’re afraid of a conservative totalitarian regime forcing itself on the citizens of the U.S., people have also feared an extremist progressive regime under Obama and then under Clinton. They still fear it when the next progressive President is elected.

            No one believes their own ideology could ever be evil, but once you force an inflexible rule on the people, regardless of who is doing it, they’re enslaved. For every Hitler there is a Stalin. Hopefully, we’ll never get to either end of the spectrum.

            I’m shutting down social media for the evening so I can relax. Happy Independence Day to you and yours.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Fandango July 3, 2018 / 5:59 pm

              “The next President will probably be elected….” I wonder if there will be a next president or if Trump will, like other autocratic dictators, will become president for life. As to evil ideologies, I think the conservatives in this country, or at least those who are enabling Trump, have no compassion, no heart, and no soul. To me, that makes them evil.

              And with that, I wish you and your family a happy 4th if July.

              Liked by 1 person

  8. Marilyn Armstrong July 3, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    They were very careful, the writers of our constitution, to NOT put God in there. There were believers, but most of them were either Deists or non-believers and ALL of them agreed that the last thing we needed in this country was anything donated by any god.

    As a non-Christian, I am first amused and ultimately appalled at how people go to battle over whether Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays are equivalent. I don’t care. It’s not my holiday. All I’m trying to do is be pleasant. Let all the Christians get together and duke it out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango July 15, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      Thanks for the reblog of this post as well. There are many in my country who would like to see the U.S. become a Christian theocracy. Yikes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Léa July 15, 2018 / 11:30 pm

        I’m afraid you are right and the reblog is an honor. I’m afraid as I work my way through you blog, I will want to reblog much of what I read. I’ve never read someone who seems to be reading my thoughts so profoundly… I am so grateful every day that I left when I did. A dear friend is coming for another visit soon and will be looking much closer… she has a growing number of friends that are searching for a place to go.
        Thank you for following one of my blogs and I am still reading, no, devouring yours!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fandango July 16, 2018 / 7:28 am

          I’m glad you are liking what you have read of my posts. Like many of your friends, my wife and are are also thinking about other places we might emigrate to as the wheels are starting to come off of the American democracy.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Léa July 16, 2018 / 7:32 am

            I wish you all the best. Just keep writing it all. Even if you are preaching to the choir… I always hope that something will wake up at least one person.

            Liked by 1 person

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