In a recent column, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote: "It's sometimes easy to lose sight of just how anomalous our (America's) religiosity is in the world. A Gallup report issued on Tuesday underscored just how out of line we are."
Given Blow's leftwing politics and his point was that all rich countries except for the United States are secular and that all poor countries are religious, he was obviously not making this point in order to celebrate America's "anomalous" religiosity.
He should have. America's anomalous religiosity is very much worth celebrating -- not because it leads to affluence, but because it is indispensible to liberty. Had Blow made a liberty chart rather than an affluence chart, he might have noted that the freest country in the world -- for 234 years -- the United States of America, has also been the most God-centered.
Yes, I know that the Islamic world has also been God-based and that it has not been free. But that is because Allah is not regarded as the source of liberty, as the America's Judeo-Christian God has been, but as the object of submission ("Islam" means "submission").
Since the inception of the United States (and, indeed, before it in colonial America), liberty, i.e., personal freedom, has been linked to God.
America was founded on the belief that God is the source of liberty. That is why the inscription on the Liberty Bell is from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 25): (SET ITAL) "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."(END ITAL)
The Declaration of Independence also asserts this link: All men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Because the Creator of the world is the source of our freedom, no state, no human being, no government may take it away. If the state were the source of liberty, then obviously the state could take it away.
Both reason and American values therefore make these claims:
1. The more important the state is, the less the liberty.
2. The more important God is, the smaller the state.
3. Therefore, the more important God is, the more liberty there is.
A proof of the validity of these assertions is that as this country -- the country, not the government -- becomes more secular, it becomes less free, just as has happened in other Western countries. We have far more laws governing human conduct than ever before in America's history. And Western Europe has even more, including limitations on as basic a liberty as free speech.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”