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.
So, too, every totalitarian state except Muslim ones (because a religious government is the Muslim ideal) seeks to abolish religion. Stalin, for example, murdered virtually every member of the clergy, and came close to destroying all religion, in the Soviet Union. He understood that a totalitarian state cannot allow a competing allegiance.
And in democratic Western Europe, the ever-expanding state is inevitably accompanied by an ever shrinking God and religion.
This is largely what the current culture war -- actually a non-violent civil war -- is about. The left seeks an ever-expanding state with, by definition, ever-expanding powers. And a fundamental aspect of that program is the removal of God and religion from as much of American life as possible. This is pursued under the noble-sounding goal of ensuring "separation of church and state." But whatever the avowed aim, the result is the same: secularize as much of society as possible, its institutions and, most importantly, its values.
Over time, much of America has belatedly awakened to the realization that two counter-revolutionary (as in American Revolution) trends were occurring at a breakneck pace: God was being replaced by the state as the source of liberty, and liberty was eroding.
To use a Civil War simile, the secular Fort Sumter took place in 1962, when the United States Supreme Court (Engel v. Vitale) overthrew the decision of the highest court of New York State, and ruled that the following prayer, said in New York State schools, violated the Constitution:
"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country."
Few rational, let alone religious, Americans believed that this non-denominational prayer, which no school child had to recite, violated the American Constitution. The purpose of the ruling was to impose secularism on America.
Since then, the leftwing attack on religion in America has proceeded at a rapid clip:
-- Though Los Angeles ("the Angels") was founded by Christians, the tiny cross on the seal of Los Angeles County was removed by the three liberal members of the five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
-- Wishing a fellow American "Merry Christmas" has been widely rendered unacceptable.
-- A speaker at public high school graduations may not say "God bless you" to the graduating class.
-- The Bible, the basis of American values instruction for most of American history, is not taught at virtually any non-religious school in America.
Examples are too numerous to list.
And now, commensurate with the removal of God from American society, the most leftwing government in American history is expanding state powers to an unprecedented degree.
Our leftwing party has passed -- more accurately imposed, since it did so without a single vote from the opposition party -- legislation that will massively expand state powers. And it is preparing to govern more and more of Americans' lives without passing any legislation. As reported by the Los Angeles Times last week: "White House staff changes are being made with an eye toward achieving goals through executive actions rather than by trying to push plans through the next Congress."
It was inevitable.
From its inception, the left has regarded God and religion (especially the Judeo-Christian varieties) as impediments to its goals: "Trust in Us (Leftwing intellectuals)" has supplanted "In God We Trust." And so, God-based liberty gives way to state-based controls.
Whichever side you are on, at least you can now better understand why the non-left is fighting. For liberty's sake, not just for God's.
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.”