“Long before America was even an idea,” he said, “this land of plenty was home to many peoples – to British and French, to Dutch and Spanish, to Mexican, to countless Indian tribes. We all shared the same land. We didn’t always get along. But over the centuries, what eventually bound us together – what made us all Americans – was not a matter of blood. It wasn’t a matter of birth. It was faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ endowed with certain inalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s what makes us unique,” he said. “That’s what makes us strong. The ability to recognize our common humanity.”
Notice anything missing? The actual Declaration reads, “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.”
As I said, it’s a curious omission. And a troubling one, especially since it seems to be a pattern. Whether out of philosophical conviction or oratorical abbreviation – the president separated our “creation” from the idea of a Creator, and the “unalienable” rights we’re endowed with from the One who endowed them. The problem: our lives, our freedom, and our rights and privileges as free men and women have no real significance or lasting meaning apart from that Creator, from that Endower … from God.
Without God, there is no life beyond this. Without God, there’s no basis for morality. What difference does it make if I treat others with respect, if I fight for their freedom, if I promote peace or seek truth or even pursue happiness? My life hangs by the slimmest of threads, and when the thread breaks: nothing. No reward for good choices, no transformation for having embraced truth … for what is truth, as Pontius Pilate asked, if God does not exist to affirm one “value” as better or more worthy than another?
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.