In Part 1, I revealed how rational and rewarding it would be to post armed guards at our schools. In Part 2, I showed how reducing the number of firearms in the U.S. would not curb violent crime. In Part 3, I began to discuss the first of two ways in which our Founding Fathers expected to produce and maintain civility and decency in society. They esteemed all human life as equal and possessing intrinsic value far above the rest of creation, albeit while struggling with executing their beliefs as much as any generation -- e.g., with slavery and the treatment of Native Americans and women.
The second thing our founders did was embed that value and care of humanity via the freedom yet accountability of moral absolutes -- codes of ethics, namely through religion. They believed in the absolute and imperative role of religion in society and that without it, civility and decency would vanish.
For our founders, moral fortitude was dependent upon the foundation of religion, not the laws of men. As John Adams, our second president, explained, "religion and virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society."
Gouverneur Morris, who, in 1787, represented Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and subsequently signed the U.S. Constitution, said, "Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore, education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God."
Benjamin Franklin put it this way: "That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest publick Honours, that their Doctrines might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People."
Because our founders firmly believed that religion prevents liberty from turning into licentiousness, President George Washington warned the nation in his Farewell Address to beware of the time when leaders dismantle society's basis of morality: "And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."