Wait, they do and are! They speak through the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and the volumes they wrote and have been written about them. Their words are timeless and although it is sometimes difficult to truly know what a person was thinking when they said or did something it is not impossible. In our Politically Correct World today in America the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been effectively shredded and altered, without constitutional amendments and ratification by the states. That is a tragedy and one that I am quite sure our Founders would be up in arms over. Thomas Jefferson, in particular, would be calling for watering the Tree of Liberty and even James Madison would be irate.
History and Colonial History comprised a significant portion of my studies in college and as I pursued a degrees in history, psychology and theology. The two areas I focused on were Civil War and Colonial History for they both fascinated me and the more I delved into them the more I realized that most of us had misconceptions and were largely uninformed. I sought and seek to be armed with knowledge and truth regardless of what that truth revealed. I have not studied history from a position of preconception. I have a hunger for truth. I study the Bible in the same way and with even more passion. I have never been satisfied with “Because I said so” as an answer to my question. I want to know who, what, when, where, why and even how if I can and that pursuit has altered my thinking on many things as I progressed in life.
Let’s consider the First Amendment as one example of a need for the Founding Fathers to speak to us today. This Amendment was written out of recognition that the Constitution was not explicit enough with regard to the Federal Government’s involvement in Religion. Yes, it covers much more but that was a strong key element in the Amendment. It was borne out of a desire and understanding that there had to be safeguards to prevent the Federal Government from establishing a National Religion. It was more than a reaction to the British having a National Church it was possibly more directed at the situation among the several states at the time.
Life in the colonies was vastly different from state to state and each colony had its own official religion. In so doing, they recognized a particular Christian denomination as the official state religion and afforded it tax-payer funds in support. The religious communities throughout the several states feared that the denomination of another state would be named as the National Church and therefore came to understand the danger as well as a desire for self-preservation. Out of this concern the First Amendment was written and ratified stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Simply, the national government was prohibited from setting up any particular denomination as the official religion of America. They did not stop there but advanced further that Congress would make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging the Freedom of Speech.
In England if one disagreed with the National Religion they had to meet in homes or in secrecy for they were not allowed to freely express their contrasting beliefs. The First Amendment did not prohibit the individual states from establishing a state religion as they already had done so. But, the Freedom Movement caught wind and grew legs as is evidenced in the impassioned speech of Patrick Henry on June 12, 1776 in the discussion of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.
“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed ONLY BY REASON AND CONVICTION, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
George Washington said that “government is force” and Patrick Henry recognized that and cried out for understanding that religion MUST BE a matter of conscience and conviction, not government edict or force. The First Amendment Guarantees each citizen the right to FREELY EXPRESS their opinions WITHOUT FEAR OF PUNISHMENT. It was common for ministers to preach on the moral issues of the day and were the government allowed to control speech they would be in violation of the law and barred, banned or imprisoned. Freedom is only hated by tyrants religious or otherwise. The idea that the founders wanted God and all things religious evicted from government policies and deliberations is not defensible for it is counter to the documents they presented, their words and writings. They wanted to prevent government from infringing on religion not to prevent religion from influencing lives and national policy. They believed that as we acknowledged God and His precepts living morally and rightly would our Republic be preserved. Today we evict God, ban the Christian religion and have established national thought and speech police to mandate what we can and cannot say, think and do. That is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!
WE MUST NOT allow our Constitutional Rights to be destroyed. The Founders have spoken and they insisted that the Federal Government butt out of religion and never infringe on our right of free speech. God bless you and God bless America!