History speaks if we will only listen. America was gifted a divine truth at our nation’s founding that all persons are created equal with intrinsic value. This truth inspired the formation of a government designed to protect individual liberty by limiting government’s power and trusting the citizenry to exercise freedom with responsibility. As Historian Paul Johnson note, forming a government to protect freedom is “an audacious [promise].” And he asks, will we live up to that promise.
At times we have not. This nation endorsed slavery and Jim Crow laws. It limited women and at times has promoted intolerance. Yet, this founding promise resting on a divine truth has inspired us to overcome, and America’s sacrifice has gifted individual freedom to the world.
All representative governments now emulate America. The oppressed around the world desire to be in America. Lady Liberty still raises her torch. And we honor all who have suffered in the cause of liberty.
And yet, the fundamental structure of a free and representative government is now under attack. We are at a crossroad in our nation’s history. The fundamental structure of internal checks and balances between governmental branches is under threat as executive overreach and emergency police powers invalidate the legislature and the people’s voice, distorting our democratic republic.
We are failing to protect the vulnerable and we are quarantining the healthy away from their hopes, dreams and means. Government power, all government power, is being consolidated into the hands of a few, and fear is being used to justify the harnessing of unprecedented power under the assumption that we are incapable of governing our own lives.
Many are tempted to restructure our government such that precious individual freedoms are sacrificed on the altar of collective conformity, leaving freedom is subject to a collective decision or individual in power rather than viewed as a divine inalienable gift.
Yet, a show of hands is no measurement of freedom. We have been gifted one of the world’s most anti-majoritarian documents, the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. It states that when one speaks that right is protected despite all else disagreeing with what is said. When one worships, that right is protected regardless if no one joins in that worship. And when people come together, government cannot prevent them from peaceably assembling.
These rights of conscience – to listen and speak and learn and grow – are fundamental to our nature as human beings and must not be crushed or rendered illegal.
So today we stand. Today we stand together for ourselves and for each other. And we invite you to stand with us.
Phill Kline, Director of The Amistad Journey Project of The Thomas More Society
Jacqueline Timmer, Founder of the Free Persons Initiative.