We Need Good Preachers Before We Get Good Government
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” –John Adams
In his 1798 letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of Massachusetts’ Militia, America’s second president, John Adams, made a famous observation about the U.S. Constitution: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Noting its limited scope and enumerated powers, Adams argued such a founding document would adequately govern given the personal and civic decorum and the decency of the citizens of the United States. Flip that coin over to understand that without the absolutes of right and wrong woven into the tapestry of a moral and religious people, an overreaching and excessive government would follow.
Dial the clock forward to 2014 America – the nation devoted to the god of me, myself and I, rather than the Hand of Providence of earlier years. Consider the cries of discrimination, intolerance and even racism, when societal standards of what is right, decent and good are most perfectly summed up by the bumper sticker, “WHATEVER!”
This cultural casserole of conscience shuns “a moral and religious people” and heralds the governing elites who view their intellect as superior to the weak leaning on the crutch of faith and religion. These 21st century elites openly mock the belief in and reverence of the Judeo-Christian Deity who endows His creation with unalienable rights, demands personal responsibility, shows love and mercy through community benevolence and charity, and has a dim view of laziness, lying and corruption.
Yet a society composed of individuals who subscribe to honesty, individual discipline and industriousness, mutual respect of persons and property, along with a measure of good will and charity, is a free people. Such a society will enjoy Liberty driven not by external lists and constraints of law, but by internal goodness and the “Golden Rule.”
As we navigate the path toward the elections of 2014 and 2016, we ask this: Instead of winning the argument and exacting policy, isn’t the more bountiful fruit to sustain our Constitution’s limited government enjoyed by winning hearts and minds to live a life of faith?
Which brings us to former Arkansas governor and TV personality Mike Huckabee. Following last week’s Supreme Court refusal to hear cases on same-sex marriage, Huckabee vowed he would leave the Republican Party if the fight against same-sex marriage and abortion did not continue as a primary political plank of the party. It’s not the first such declaration from those of faith who seek higher office or lead in an elected position.
Yet a “house divided will not stand.” The nation’s Mike Huckabees should be cautious in abandoning the political vehicle that most frequently and effectively opposes the party whose membership voted God out in the 2012 Democrat National Convention.
Isn’t it even more critical in this cultural battle that those of the Judeo-Christian faith season their environs by being the “salt of the earth” rather than taking their 50-pound salt block into isolation?
In using John Adams’ observation to inform our center-right pursuits, fiscal restraint and discipline, economic success and might, along with a populace of individual accountability and productivity, are more likely when our Judeo-Christian God informs our politics and drives our conduct.
One might say John Adams was observing that good preachers precede good government.
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