The Constitution…or maybe not

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

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.

How many times have you heard people cite this passage, or at least the “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” bit, as part of our constitution? If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard it often. However, also if you are like me, you know this is NOT part of our constitution. It’s actually from the Declaration of Independence. But for this discussion let’s disregard that distinction, because, although they are not one in the same, they are both doctrines outlining our framers’ intentions.

Even if you are not an American historian I think we can logically assume that the founding fathers were not at the local pub watching the Washington Redskins while sauced on mead when they suddenly decided to write some rebellious nonsense on a napkin in twenty minutes which now hangs in the National Archives. I think it’s fair to assume they spent time pouring over every single word carefully.

Many proponents of greater government intervention tend to ignore this.  In doing so, they miss a very important distinction—the word “pursuit”. Notice how it only comes before the word happiness and it’s actually there in the first place? This was not an accident.

Had they meant for you to only be able to pursue life and liberty, it likely would have been written, “The pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness”. Conversely if they felt like you had a right to be happy, they would have omitted the word altogether.

Proponents of a government-managed economy argue that the role of government is to ensure that all its citizens should be happy in some governmentally-induced Utopia. Yet in the history of mankind, such a Utopia has never really existed. When tried, they’ve usually failed miserably, collapsing under the weight of a tax and spend mentality. Socialism-supporters seem to believe that we have the capability, and the “filthy” rich have the money to do just this. Even if they were right, it was clearly not what our forefathers intended based on that little word “pursuit”.

America was founded on the understanding that without risk, there can be no real reward. Many of us try and fail, some do so to a perilous end.  This is unfortunate, but even so, safety nets are not in the American DNA. Let other nations go broke pursing that pipe dream; we should stick to the formula that has served us so well thus far.

The First Amendment

How many times have you heard the term “Separation of church and state” as a Constitutional argument? My guess is thousands. Again, these words are not in our constitution. What people do all too often is further their agenda by modifying the 1st Amendment which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

I’ve confessed before that I am a science and skepticism advocate and have no active belief in any religion, so one would suspect that I want to further the atheist cause, but I don’t. America is largely Christian, and attempting to diminish that because one is an Atheist is no more proper than Christians trying to force me to become part of their faith.

A recent example was the 9/11 cross; a remnant from the original towers destroyed on that tragic day. It was two I-Beams left standing that formed a cross after all the wreckage began to clear. Many Christians considered it a sign, and the cross was taken to a local church during the clean-up process at ground zero. Now that the new structure is being built, the church has returned the cross to the government-owned memorial site. Atheists are citing separation of church and state issues and crying foul.

So my question to them is this—looking at the amendment it says, “Make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. Where is the law being passed in regards to them displaying a remnant from 9/11 that looks like a cross? I find this behavior embarrassing to responsible non-believers such as myself who know the Constitution’s intent and limitations.

On the flip side, as a Libertarian, many laws which by their very nature are promoting religious beliefs such as most everything your local vice squad would enforce are based on Christian philosophy and therefore are indeed unconstitutional. One needs only be denied the ability to buy liquor on Sunday to understand why we get upset. There is no reason for such a law except with Christian influence, yet they affect all of us. The church has its laws, the Ten Commandments, which all Christians are to adhere to. For the rest of us, they mean nothing, and our forefathers didn’t intend for us to be encumbered by them

A Libertarian, like many Republicans, will be for the smallest governmental-intervention possible, and we believe our forefathers intended as much with every fiber of their being. It’s why Ron Paul and Gary Johnson run as Republicans. But unlike many in the Republican Party, we take the Constitution and the Declaration a little more seriously. While we don’t necessarily condone and/or endorse the use of the myriad of vices, we feel that by passing such laws, Congress is preventing free expression and denying a pursuit of happiness to those of us who are non-believers.

I’m not necessarily asking for Christian Conservatives to side with me on this, they shouldn’t based on their beliefs. But a little understanding and respect for the opinions of us non-believers and Libertarians would sure be appreciated, and you have my solemn promise that I won’t try to take nativity scenes off display at Christmas, remove “In God We Trust” from the dollar bill, or any other nonsense that doesn’t violate the verbiage of the Constitution. If the majority want these things that do not infringe on my rights, they’re welcome to them with my blessing.

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