Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Liberty has divine origins

In his obviously heartfelt “Sound Off” column published July 3, Justice Sanders perpetuates the all-too-common misconception that our government is the source of our liberty; the unfortunate headline for the column compounds the error. I am surprised, and chagrined, that one of our Supreme Court Justices fails to understand what is a very basic concept: liberty is not ours because the state or federal constitutions “provide” it, but because it is the gift of Almighty God.

Our Declaration of Independence states it clearly: “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. . . .” The Declaration’s author, Thomas Jefferson, had earlier written, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?” We repeatedly acknowledge this divine gift when, in the 4th stanza of “America,” we sing, “Our father’s God to thee, author of liberty, to thee we sing. . . .”

This is not a trivial distinction. “Rights” that are granted by government can be legitimately rescinded by the same or a changed government, while rights bestowed by God transcend human authority and machination.

We can indeed be grateful that we live in a state and country whose governing principles and documents recognize and respect our God-given liberty. We should beware when temptation to compromise the gift of liberty arises. And we must be willing to boldly resist tyranny with all means available to us, so as to convey intact to future generations this most precious divine gift of liberty.

Warren B. Howe, MD

Bellingham

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