One of the uniquely American attributes upon which this great country was founded is the spirit of independence, or as Thomas Jefferson phrased it, "the spirit of resistance." Throughout America's history, our people, especially our Christian leaders, were noted for bold and courageous confrontation. This was especially true in the area of politics.
Having broken free (at great personal cost) from the fetters of the British Crown, our founders were jealous of their new-found liberty. They were not about to easily surrender what they had struggled so hard to obtain.
As a result, those in positions of power (regardless of political party) and, therefore, capable of abridging or usurping constitutionally-protected freedoms were viewed with deep suspicion. For decades following the creation of our constitutional republic, even the slightest incursion upon freedom was met with swift and stubborn resistance.
Jefferson's quotation already alluded to is, "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive."
Notice that Jefferson's "spirit of resistance" was focused specifically on "government." Unfortunately, it is exactly that spirit which has all but faded from the modern American landscape.
On the whole, the American people, and America's Christian leaders in particular, no longer possess "the spirit of resistance to government." While they may resist any number of other objects perceived to be threatening, government, especially at the federal level, routinely gets a pass.
For example, leaders of the Religious Right get righteously indignant regarding private enterprises they determine to be immoral, i.e. pornographers, promoters of casino gambling, gay marriage proponents, etc. When it comes to federal abuse of power, however, they sit mute and dumb! It seems totally lost to most Christians that government leaders who use the power of their office to trample our liberties are the most immoral reprobates of all, because nothing is more valuable than freedom. Nothing.
The truth is, we have far more to fear from arrogant, overreaching politicians than we do from pornographers or homosexual activists! We can normally resist the latter without risking life and liberty, but trying to resist the former could (and has) cost everything including life, fortune, and sacred honor!
It is clear that the only time most dare to resist government is when the people running it are from a party we do not like. If, however, the person in charge is from the right party, the best we can do is sit mute while he or she violates the hallowed principles of liberty.
A glaring example of what I'm saying is the reaction of most Christian leaders to President Bush's two Supreme Court picks and his promotion of the USA Patriot Act. Almost universally, Christian leaders have extolled the President's choices as all but perfect. They have heaped the highest praises imaginable upon both John Roberts and Harriet Miers.
Yet, the truth is, we know virtually nothing about either one of these people, especially concerning the salient issues that most Christian conservatives are concerned about. If we were totally honest, the best we could say is, "We really don't know what kind of Supreme Court justices they will be. Only time will tell."
However, the mantra commonly used by Christian leaders regarding Bush's Supreme Court picks is, "We should trust the President. " Yet, that was the same thing conservative leaders told us when George Bush, Sr. selected David Souter to the High Court.
Let's be honest: if Al Gore or John Kerry were picking stealthy, virtually unknown Supreme Court justices, Christian conservatives would be shouting to the heavens for resistance! But why? Why would they resist one and not the other? For the same reason they do not resist the Patriot Act: they are given to political partisanship and personality, not to the principles of liberty and constitutional governance.
When President Bill Clinton proposed his version of the Patriot Act, conservative Christians vehemently resisted. The result of which was that Congress refused to enact it into law. However, when G.W. Bush proposed the almost identical piece of legislation, Christian conservatives offered no resistance and the proposal became law. Even if Roberts and Miers turn out to be wonderful Supreme Court justices, the principle by which they were approved is just as shameful as when Souter was appointed. Again, it seems to be all about partisan politics and personality and has almost nothing to do with the principles of liberty and constitutional governance.
When Jefferson wished for "the spirit of resistance to government" to be always kept alive, he was expressing a cornerstone doctrine for America's future success. He knew what most of our Christian leaders today never learned or have forgotten: without "the spirit of resistance," freedom is jeopardized and independence is compromised.
© 2005 Chuck Baldwin - All Rights Reserved
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