Friday, August 28, 2009

Our God-given rights:Values for Living

Our God-given rights

Values for Living

Published: Friday, August 14, 2009 11:53 PM EDT
Prior to the American Revolutionary War, the Colonists were struggling against against the oppressive actions of the British king.

There was a growing yearning in the hearts of those early Americans settlers to break the bands of oppression and enjoy the blessings of freedom.

They were being deprived of basic freedoms and rights which they believed no king, no government, no man could justly deny them.

Their only course of action to remedy the situation was to break away from their oppressors and fight for their independence, which they did.

In the Declaration of Independence signed July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned these now famous words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, . . ."

There are some key matters to be noted here.

First, Mr. Jefferson correctly states that there are certain rights to all people are endowed with, and these are God-given rights that cannot be taken away or separated from us.

Second, he states that liberty is among these rights. Then, he very importantly says that governments are instituted for the purpose of securing our rights, and governments derive their power to govern from the consent of those they are to govern.

These are basic principles and foundation stones of American democracy.

Our liberty and freedoms are God-given, and no man, no leader, no government has the right or privilege to deprive us of these things.

In fact, our leaders and our government are saddled with the duty and responsibility to secure and protect our liberty and freedom, and we the people have given our consent to the government to exercise the power necessary to execute that duty and responsibility.

This is one of the basic services of government.

Our founding fathers never intended that the people be set in place to serve the government; rather, on the contrary, the government is established to serve the people.

I love this nation, and I consider myself a very patriotic, loyal American citizen.

However, I have some real concerns about what seems to be happening regarding our liberty and freedoms and our God-given rights.

I hear many others voicing similar concerns.

Please allow me to expound a bit. I personally believe a very dangerous trend began in the early 1960's when the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision telling us where we could not pray, namely, in our public schools.

I was further alarmed in the early 1990's when the Supreme Court said in a ruling that it is unconstitutional for a minister to say a prayer at a public high school graduation ceremony.

Prayer in a public school setting was not an issue for decades in America, and suddenly it became an issue.

Basic freedoms and liberty were seriously threatened, eroded or even lost, in those high court decisions. I know that many others also feel this way.

I certainly do not say this as a matter of disrespect to the United States Supreme Court. I simply believe believe that this is all considered and addressed by our citizenry.

If our freedom and rights concerning something as basic prayer can be taken away, them what else can be taken away? What goes next?

Will our freedom of speech and our freedom of the press be threatened or taken away? Will the time come when ministers cannot address certain subjects from the pulpit during a public church service?

I cannot help but wonder. I am deeply concerned and more than a little alarmed.

Our liberty and freedoms have come at a very high price.

Thousands of American men and women — including many from Pickaway County - have fought and died in many wars to protect and defend our God-given right to have and enjoy our liberty and our freedoms.

We must be viligent and be careful to not lose, or let gradually slip away from us, what God has so graciously given us.

This is not a political issue, a Democratic or Republican Party issue; it is a fundamental American values issue with which we must all be concerned. Thank you.

— Dr. Doyne N. Wiggins is Pastor of Outreach Ministries and a member of the Pickaway County Ministerial Association.