What does it take to bring political liberty into reality and what is required to sustain it? Is religion a necessity or a hindrance? Is religious neutrality in public affairs possible? What do means of persuasion and the knowledge of good and evil have to do with political liberty? Do the well-considered views of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the separation between church and state have any relevance today?
Such questions are bypassed in the pragmatic expediencies of politics. But they cannot be overlooked if the American experiment in liberty is to be understood and prolonged. Liberty and the Wall surveys these and other aspects of political liberty as it is enjoyed in the United States. It distills from history the essentials of natural right and consent of the governed, and the necessary virtues of self-reliance and self-governance. It analyzes the conditions and events that led to a formal separation between political rule and religion for the first time in history. The transition from government over people to people over government and the principles embedded within the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are explored. Insights are drawn from the Federalist—Anti-Federalist and Lincoln—Douglas debates. The danger of utopian ideals and the place of appeal to authority higher than both people and government receive due attention.
Liberty and the Wall steers clear of conventional, superficial controversies over religious symbols, speech, and practices on public property and in public institutions. Neither is there any pretense about easy fixes to public controversies. Far more germane to the subject are underlying conflicts of values and senses of the good and just in matters of public interest, as opposing metaphysical views contend for political supremacy below the level of popular awareness. Politics is infused with values and concepts of right. The determination of the valuable, the right, and the just is far more the commanding question.
Liberty And The Wall
of Separation Between Church and State
· The artificial separation between reason and faith and the dismissal of religious beliefs as incompatible with reason is destructive because without transcendent backing, rightness, goodness, and justice are cut loose from any stationary anchorage.
· If a shared overarching sense of rightness, goodness, and justice fixed in eternity is lacking, the temptation to politicize that sense, to fabricate a "majority" or "settled" view, can be irresistible to those in position to work such influence.
· This temptation, and the opportunity provided by mass media to manipulate and steer public opinion, is the ideal condition in which the quasi-religiosity of Marxism, the most self-righteous and deadliest form of despotism ever devised, can take root.
· Moral condemnation is Marxism's source of power and the exercise of power over an enemy is like an addictive drug; those who hold beliefs and aspirations that dare to trouble a populace's collective "happiness" (as Marxist agitators define it) are the designated enemy.
· In this, Marxist strategy strives to divide a populace over a perceived injustice (it does not matter too much what injustice), stir up widespread and violent discontent, and then use that discontent and violence as a pretext for assuming totalitarian control.
· For the cause of liberty, therefore, what is commonly believed must be subjected, in freedom of speech, to reason able to discern the presence or absence of truth. The real question is whether rightness, goodness, and justice are founded on reason and truth or fabrication and power.
· The American experience of individual rights fixed in eternity and consent to limited government is able to resist totalitarian advances if only the people would understand how their liberty is sustained by truth and virtue that is inherently religious.
"The knowledge of good and evil is not going away" says Mr. O'Keefe, "but it can be controlled
and the effect on American liberty would be devastating should its control continue to be given
over into the wrong hands."