Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is There An American Partisan Divide On if Our Rights Come From God ?

This is one of those just throwing it out there posts.

There was a good bit of debate over the God or the lack thereof being mentioned at our recent Political  Party Conventions a couple of weeks ago.

Rachel Evans had a good bit to say about this at  God and our political platforms...

As with many of her pieces I sort of agree up to a certain point and  this is no exception. While she focuses perhaps on some common sense dangers , there is perhaps another part of "Caesar's Coin" she misses. One is that in this thing called a democracy ( really a Republic) you , me,  and the man behind the tree are ultimately Caesar nowadays or at least a chink in his armor if we are civic minded Americans.

Second ,  related to that great power we all have I think is the useful nature of all this God stuff. That is both the obligations and limitations that our power as Caesar has.

I thought back on Evans post when I read Hadley Arkes piece at the Catholic Thing called God Among the Delegates . I respectfully disagree with Arkes conclusion that perhaps Cardinal Dolan should have skipped out on the Democratic Convention , but that was not what caught my eye in his piece.

....The outrage was fueled by disbelief, for it was clear to anyone with normal hearing that the voice-vote did not come even close to the two-thirds vote required to amend the platform. But the managers were compelled to call for a voice-vote: They could not possibly want a roll call, with a record jarringly precise of the number of delegates who were willing to vote against even a passing mention of God.

But it wasn’t simply a matter of adding a word to the platform. The issue ran far deeper than that. It ran back to the beginning of the American regime in the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration appealed first to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the very ground of our natural rights.

The drafters declared that “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal,” and that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” George Bush was not embarrassed to insist that these are “God given rights” – not rights that we had merely given to ourselves. For if we had given them to ourselves, we could as readily take them back or remove them.

And there was the heart of the question. If we could take surveys of the delegates to the two political conventions, the delegates would no doubt divide sharply. My own guess is that about 80 per cent of the Republican delegates would regard it as a settled truth that we were “endowed by [our] Creator” with certain rights, and that roughly the same portion of the Democratic delegates would find the notion laughable...

Now before the Democratic convention I would have gone well I think Hadley is exaggerating . In fact even at the time of this posting I would think 80 percent would be very high.

Still I go back to some rather unscientific observations on my twitter timeline during the Republican Convention. When Paul Ryan in his VP acceptance speech said :

Each of these great moral ideas is essential to democratic government – to the rule of law, to life in a humane and decent society. They are the moral creed of our country, as powerful in our time, as on the day of America's founding. They are self-evident and unchanging, and sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government.

There was a light explosion to say the least a slight explosion on my timeline from the more "left" folks. One University of Penn Religion Prof that is in a slight bit of controversy today on if a preacher should be in jail over a movie would have done of it.

However one tweet from a Episcopal Christian that was slightly indicative of what I was seeing elsewhere really took me back. He said " OUR RIGHTS DON'T COME FROM GOD OUR RESPONSIBILITIES DO !"

Well why I agree yes our responsibilities and indeed those of Government ( we are Caesar ) come from God ,  but don't our rights come from him  also?

It might be I have lived in Catholic land with talk of natural law and natural rights for so long that the fact the notion of rights coming from God seems pretty non controversial for me. Perhaps though I have been living in some bubble.

Now it's true that not all rights perhaps come from God. I am big supporter of the Second Amendment , but I am willing to debate if my ability to own a machine gun comes from God. Further I am big believer in the rights to open Government but I am not claiming that my right to attend a school board meeting under a sunshine law comse from God either. When we are talking RIGHTS I think we are talking about something more essential.

Again GOD puts limitations on Caesar , and is another side of that coin.

If the situation is as dire as Arkes thinks it is I am not sure. However there is no doubt there is more of a effort to perhaps eradicate this discussion from the public square. See Sarah Posner's Nine Reasons Why Democrats Shouldn’t Invite Nuns on the Bus to the Convention.

I understand Evan's concerns when she says "Ironically, we render God’s name more meaningless each time we use it carelessly to advance our own agendas. ". However if Arkes is correct we might have a much bigger problem.

Both concerns of both Evans and Arkes are valid and I think this is NOT a case of either/or but of both/and to tell you the truth.


APOV said...

All these lying politicians use the name of God in promoting their agenda, but we have knowlege of history, and we know how it came to be that the "Bill of Rights" was established on this continent. God had placed aboriginal Americans, indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere. Then beginning in 1492, Europeans came here and began to kill, steal, and destroy that which God had wrought. In 1607, the British began an all out assault upon North America, and practiced genocide against the indigenous nations until by 1776, most of the Americans were dead, and the survivors driven to the west of the British colonies. At this point the colonists declared independence from Great Britain, using the term "endowed by their Creator" in their declaration, the way that lying politicians always use the name of God in whatever evil they are trying to perpetrate. The so-called rights that these current politicians are talking about did not come from God, they were secured by victory in war--in the superior ablility to kill, steal, and destroy.

APOV said...

I forgot to mention how all these God-fearing Europeans financed their endeavor to steal this continent and establish their "rights" here. They imported other humans from Africa and enslaved them, using their labor without pay, to grow tobacco and export it all over the world. You know tobacco--the most addictive substance on Earth, and which will cause a long slow painful death to those who feed that addiction for many years. It is no wonder that a society built upon this history will try to claim that their "Bill of Rights" was handed down to them from the sky, instead of just saying "We have our rights instead of them having their rights because we killed more of them than they killed of us."

James H said...

I am not sure that the founders recongnziing some rights come from God and then did not live up to that as to native Americans in practice does not disprove the point.

Even Jefferson sadly that in his youth saw Slavery as a wrong could not as he got older live to his insight when he got older as he wanted to keep his comforts

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