October 6, 2007
Judeo-Christian Values in America have a basis in the Declaration of Independence:
"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..."
Since the pursuit of happiness, as Sigmund Freud surmised, is tied to human love and to creative work and play, the principles of American Judeo-Christian Values can rightly be summarized as the honoring of God-given Life, Liberty and Creativity. This seed of American social justice was then fleshed out in the U.S. Constitution through reason and common sense, unencumbered by the dysfunctional religious and secular traditions, and laws of Old Europe.
Our Founding Fathers separated church from state, but they wisely did not separate God from state; they acknowledged God as the source of our rights, and, in fact, they were careful to place Biblical morality directly into our founding documents and laws, and into our values and culture precisely to help prevent a future of totalitarian or tyrannical rule in America. The combination of keeping Judeo-Christian religious morality in the state, as opposed to the church it's self; and, additionally, setting up our laws based on reason and common sense has contributed to the American Character, and to what is known as "American Exceptionalism."
Our Founding Fathers were religious in a new way, the Judeo-Christian way, and they were the liberals of their day by deducing that our political and human rights come from a power higher than human government; but they were conservative to Biblical morality. There was and still is a connection between God and Liberty; He is the author of it. It is ironic that American Conservatives are now the champion of this our most liberal founding principle; and also an irony that most American Conservatives are wholly unaware of their connection with the liberal founding ideas of this great republic. It is also an irony that many American Liberals have turned a blind eye to the required connection between God and Liberty. As Thomas Jefferson and John Adams noted, as you will see below, Liberty cannot survive among men without its Divine connection.
In Judeo-Christian America one finds the idea of equality before God and the law, but not government forced economic equality. Modern European culture has stressed the value of economic equality rather than Liberty, and their governments unjustly enforce the principle. This has led to the failed European inventions of Socialism and Communism. Socialists in America have been lured into this failed European idea of social justice.
Socialism is a failure in that it unjustly suppresses human creativity by excessively taxing away its rewards, and by foolishly giving economic reward to many who, even though mentally and physically able, fail to honor their Divine privilege and duty to work creatively. Thus, Socialism is a dual insult to God-given creativity. Communism was much worse in that it also dishonored the sacredness of human life and liberty. Communism was the inevitable result of separating not just church from state, but separating God from state. Communism dishonored God's gifts of Life, Liberty and Creativity.
European cultures have frequently been tied to authoritarian and totalitarian systems dating back to the Roman Empire. Even European Christianity was, for a time, contaminated by its links to authoritarian rule. American Judeo-Christian Culture, on the other hand, has been linked to honoring Life, Liberty and Creativity from the outset; deriving its wisdom from the lights of reason, common sense, and both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament Christian Bible.
Thomas Jefferson, and as far as I can tell, the great majority of our Founding Fathers explicitly put God into the national life of the United States, precisely by putting the Creator into the Declaration of Independence. It is important that American Liberty has something to do with God; that is something for students to know and discuss, even if they are not particularly religious.
This does not represent some form of tyranny of the religious majority or an injustice; it was in fact the wisdom of our Founding Fathers to stand in opposition to tyranny and injustice by acknowledging the source of our rights -- those rights originating from God rather than from King George III, or for that matter from the Soviet or Chinese Politburo, or a courthouse, or a legislature. It should be self-evident that if our sacred human rights are derived from government, they can also be removed by government.
America is a melting pot of diverse people including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists; and from the Judeo-Christian perspective: all made in God's image. We have in America a multiethnic society, and that is good. What is unhealthy for America is for it to become Balkanized, which is very likely to happen with the atrophy of Judeo-Christian American Culture and Values.
Worse yet would be for America to adopt the toxic values which exist in some parts of the world and which are endemic in some foreign cultures. The values of Fascism, Nazism, Communism or Totalitarian Islamic Sharia Law for example must never metastasize in our American Culture, which traditionally has been Judeo-Christian. These values have been with us from the beginning and they have made us strong and successful. These Judeo- Christian Values should be kept central to the American spirit and culture even as we have become more multi-ethnic. Honoring foreign cultures is desirable, but we should never tolerate the values of violence, coercion, totalitarianism, supremacism, bigotry or intolerance; values which are sadly endemic in some foreign cultures.
We must recognize that our culture, too, is worth preserving.