Last fall, President Donald Trump issued an executive order renewing faith advisory councils for agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. But he did not renew the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, launched in the George W. Bush administration and extended in 2009 by President Barack Obama. (Trump faith Adviser: We’re in “Heart” of policy conversations.)
I have not been a fan of efforts that encourage religious welfare institutions to depend on government funding. These days government money comes with strings attached, exposing religious institutions to demands that they exclude their faith from any and all activities the government helps to sustain. The federal judiciary has developed a specious Constitutional jurisprudence that presumes to impose a false doctrine of “separation of church and state” (a phrase nowhere found in the U.S. Constitution) on the activities of government in the United States, at all levels. This jurisprudence is false to the logical and historical premises of the democratic, republican form of government the U.S. Constitution establishes for the United States and requires in all the States of the Union.
The American Declaration of Independence sets out these premises. It plainly evokes the standard of “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” It defines human justice (what is right for humanity) and the unalienable rights that arise from it (including liberty) in terms of the endowing will of the Creator. And it observes that the just powers of government derive from the consent of those who join in committing themselves to the path of right according to the terms of that endowment.
The American Declaration of Independence obviously relies on a religious understanding of justice in human affairs. It defines human equality in terms of the equal responsibility of all human beings to do right according to God’s will. It recognizes, therefore, that everyone who accepts and acts on this responsibility contributes to the just powers of government. The determination of individual wills in that respect must therefore be taken account of when informing the institution of government that exercises those powers.
Anyone willing reasonably to ponder the implications of these logical and historical facts must conclude that it is not possible to separate the religious understanding set forth in the American Declaration of Independence from the institution and operation of the free state (i.e., state deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed) the U.S. Constitution is supposed to secure (cf. the Second Amendment) for the people of the United States.
Given this conclusion, doesn’t it make perfect sense to have offices in the U.S. government meant to assure that its activities respect the religious premises on which depends the liberty of the American people? Doesn’t this require regularly consulting the views of the people who profess to abide in those premises, so that government actions encourage and take account of their activities?
Until relatively recently, a positive answer to this question was taken for granted by the elected representatives of the people of the United States, and the officials empowered and put in place by their appointment. But since the mid-20th Century the specious doctrine of “separation of church and state”, invented and imposed by the Federal Judiciary, has interfered with this consultative process. In fact, far from consulting those who adhere to the religious premises of the American republic, that specious doctrine has been invoked to support the pretense that government in the United States must be scoured of all religious premises.
But once the premises of equal right (which is to say, the equal obligation to do right) have been scoured from our government, what justifies the claim that all our citizens, regardless of their material power, or other unequal characteristics, have an equal claim to contribute to the elections that inform the government, laws and composition of government in the United States? If we separate the people from the religious premises of their liberty, we separate them from their liberty; we take away the ground on which their Constitutional self-government has been erected. We set the stage for returning to the government of a powerful elitist few, predicated on the premise that superior material might makes right.
Now we see the judicial power being abused to force people of faith to abandon the religious precepts of our self-government. We see them persecuted in their lives and livelihoods because they abide in the premises of right and rights on which our nation was founded. We see them subject to prejudicial discrimination by private entities in violation of the Constitution’s Ninth Amendment, which plainly states that the antecedent rights retained by the people (which necessarily include the primordial rights that depend on the Creator’s endowment) cannot be denied or disparaged on account of rights subsequently fabricated by human will and passion.
A slew of activists promoting various of these willfully fabricated “rights” demand and applaud Judicial abuses of power intended to enforce respect for them. They pretend that their cultish worship of human power and passion (especially sexual passion) is not a religious creed. But even if it were, religious practices and demands have been rejected in the course of our nation’s history if and when they conflict with the religious premises of the American creed, the creed that undergirds our self-government, and indeed our common identity, as a people.
In light of this threat, it would make sense to replace all the Advisory Councils predicated vaguely on “faith” and replace them with councils specifically dedicated to encouraging co-operation with groups and associations committed to the American Creed. This would require reviving our nations’ understanding of that Creed, as it depends on the will and law of God, inscribed in the hearts (programmed into the nature) of all human beings. Rather than favoring any particular group or denomination, this would appeal to all who are willing to act on the premise of God’s creation, and its consequences for human right and justice.
The American people are under no obligation to cater to views that contradict the logic of our self-government. Indeed, since our Constitution makes it our goal “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”, we are derelict in our duty to uphold the Constitution if we do not uphold the understanding of right and justice that justifies our claim to equality and rights, including liberty, as endowed by the Creator God.
Alan Keyes is a political activist, a prolific writer and a former diplomat.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.