Vice President Kamala Harris loves abortion. She and many more like her believe it’s a political sacrament, a religious rite that’s necessary to “save democracy” by killing off the future. It makes perfect sense if you are a self-absorbed secularist which she is. Her latest manipulation to give gravitas to her views is an appeal to the Declaration of Independence.
On the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade pro-abortion decision, Harris gave a speech in Florida where she attacked Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers by calling them “extremists” for protecting the rights of unborn children.
Shockingly, she appealed to the Declaration of Independence, a document written by white men, some of whom owned slaves. But when it comes to abortion, every tool necessary to support the bloody business of abortion is OK, because, in a sense, the Democrat Party is the party of contemporary slavery. We should not lose perspective given the fact that black mothers abort their unborn children at a higher rate than whites.
“We are here together because we collectively believe and know America is a promise. America is a promise. It is a promise of freedom and liberty—not for some, but for all,” Harris said. “A promise we made in the Declaration of Independence that we are each endowed with the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
She left out some key 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.
Once God is left out, the State becomes the grantor of rights and the definition of what constitutes life. Former President Barack Obama tweeted on Sunday that people need to protect “reproductive rights” for today’s families and “for generations to come.” Abortion kills off future generations!
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The news is not all bad. Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical has a bright spot. “The film opens in an English maternity ward with a musical number celebrating babies. Newborn after newborn, including two with Down syndrome, grace the screen while a child sings, ‘My mummy says I’m a miracle.’ A dancing doctor chimes in: ‘Every life I bring into this world restores my faith in mankind.’”
These stories bring me to a book about the Declaration of Independence. It’s been said that you can tell a book by its cover. You can also tell a book by those who endorse it. Consider Alan Dershowitz’s Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking our Declaration of Independence. The book is endorsed by at least two high-profile published atheists (Steven Pinker and Sam Harris), the president of the ACLU (Nadine Strossen, who speaks to atheist groups and may be an atheist herself), an anti-Christian and self-avowed atheist former Congressman (Pete Stark, D-CA), and the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Barry W. Lynn) who rarely has anything good to say about religion and the public square and whose organization takes the atheist position in court battles.
Their endorsement of Blasphemy and its defense of the Declaration of Independence over against its Christian interpreters made me laugh out loud. How can any of these critics denounce the “Christian Right” and its use of the Declaration when the Declaration asserts that our “inalienable rights” are an endowment from the Creator?
“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.”
Dershowitz and his atheistic supporters are hypocrites. Their attack should be on the Declaration itself since it not only grounds our nation’s most fundamental rights in a Creator, but it also acknowledges that this Creator is “the Supreme Judge of the world.”
Dershowitz describes the God of the Declaration as “deistic.” I want to know if the atheists who endorse Blasphemy believe in a Creator of any kind, deistic or not. Of course, they don’t. They’re atheists! The very definition of an atheist is that there is no God. Pulling out the deist card to save his polemical hand does not lend credibility to Dershowitz’s argument that the Declaration is a purely secular document. It’s not:
A number of conservative Christian scholars today acknowledge this mixture of Christian and Enlightenment influences on the Declaration. Reconstructionist theologian Gary North, for example, calls it a “Deistic document.” He is disappointed that the deity of the Declaration is only “the undefined god of nature” and not the God of Scripture, but he nevertheless finds the Declaration more Christian than the Articles of Confederation, which refers to God once, and the Constitution, which contains no references to God. For North, the Declaration acts as the “incorporating” document for the nation, and the Constitution as its set of bylaws. The Constitution, however, trumps the Declaration and in identifying a new deity, “We the people,” becomes nothing more than “an atheistic, humanist covenant.”
Gregg Singer, an evangelical scholar, also calls Jefferson’s document a “Deist Declaration,” but finds the Constitution somewhat more conservative, if not more Christian. The United States, he holds, is a Christian nation whose Founding Fathers affirmed the relevance of biblical law but left open its application by making no specific references to it in the Constitution.
The status of the Declaration as a Christian or deist document has been much debated. It is probably best to understand the document as neither. The Declaration of Independence was primarily a foreign policy document aimed at England, France, indeed all of Europe, although it was also designed to unify those at home. It is written in a theistic framework primarily because Jefferson, his five-man drafting committee, and indeed the Continental Congress at-large understood the colonists’ authority to sever their relationship to Britain as resting upon a theistic, natural rights philosophy. Yet this theistic framework was also adopted because it was broad and general enough to capture the theistic framework in which most colonists understood all earthly events to take place. Thus it was neither specifically deistic (scientific worldview) nor Christian (biblical worldview) as either position would have excluded those adherents of the other; as a theistic document, it appealed to both.
No deist would ever describe God as “the Supreme Judge of the World” or rely “on the Protection of Divine Providence” for anything. Protection and Providence are not in the deist’s religious deck.
Let’s ask Mr. Dershowtiz and his atheist supporters if it would be legitimate to refer to God in public schools each morning as the “Supreme Judge of the world” or teach in a biology class that God is the Creator. There would be howls of protestation Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU leading the way to the nearest judge to threaten a lawsuit against any school that began the day with a statement that the Creator is the Supreme Judge of the world. Logic would lead one to believe that this Creator was the Supreme Judge of the school, the teachers, and the students. This will not do.
Mr. Dershowitz might be right that the Declaration is not a Christian document (see above), but this does little to clear up the broader argument about religion and civil government. He and his atheist friends must prove that America’s founding was decidedly anti-theistic since this is the way the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State argue in court. The Declaration, with its description of God as Creator and Supreme Judge, is an indictment of their atheistic advocacy. Dershowtiz understands this well enough. He explains that with time and recent scientific discovers, Thomas Jefferson would have given ascent to findings of science and the rejection of any “God hypothesis.”
In his chapter titled “The Christian Right’s Strategy,” Dershowitz attacks “serious scholars” who argue that the Declaration includes Christian elements.
Anson Phelps Stoke [sic], author of a three-volume study of church and state in America, published in 1950, argues that Christian values “permeate” the Declaration of Independence. “The ideal of the Declaration is of course a definitely Christian one,” especially when “considered along with the references to the Deity.” He believes the Declaration is based on “fundamental Christian teachings,” including “our duties toward God.”
Stokes was not a part of the Christian Right since it didn’t exist in 1950. So it seems that Dershowitz’s Christian conspiracy theory is just like so many other conspiracy theories—contrived to obscure the truth. If a non-Christian like Stokes believed that the “Declaration may be accepted as evidence that the founders of the country … were sympathetic with the fundamental theistic belief and with the moral and social teachings of the Gospels,” then it seems that Christian Right defenders of the Declaration can’t be too far off the mark if they believe something similar.
The Declaration of Darwinism
Dershowitz admits that “it would be wrong to conclude that the Declaration of Independence supports the entire agenda of those who would remove all references to God from public pronouncements. Although that would be my strong personal preference,” he writes, “I cannot find support for it in the history or text of the Declaration.” So what would be Dershowitz’s substitute for the God-language of the Declaration and countless other official government documents that mention God and Jesus Christ? The Declaration of Darwinism. The solution to all our problems is to recognize that we have evolved to this moment in time. Nature is our god. “Ultimately all scientific, empirical, or logical arguments for God’s existence must fail under the accepted rules of science, empiricism, and logic. The only plausible argument for God is an unscientific, antiempirical, and illogical reliance on blind (deaf and dumb) faith—precisely the sort of faith Jefferson rejected.”
Dershowitz’s dilemma is that he has no way to account for science, logic, and morality given his materialistic assumptions. At least Jefferson had enough sense to recognize he needed a god, even if it was a god of his own invention, to make his worldview work. Dershowitz, writing in his book Shouting Fire, admits that “the diverse components of nature” cannot “be translated into morality, legality, or rights.” Without God as the grantor of rights, as the Declaration declares, please tell me Mr. Dershowitz the source of rights and how to legitimately secure them.
Defending the Declaration
One additional point needs to be made. Not only is a book known by those who endorse it, but it is also known by the books it does not mention, especially those that are critical of your claim. For example, in 1977, Ron Sider wrote Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. It was one of the most popular Evangelical books of the 1970s. Sider’s thesis was simple: underdeveloped countries were underdeveloped because the West was rich. “Christian socialism” had found its place among Evangelicals.
A major critique of Rich Christians was written by David Chilton in 1981. Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators was a 222-page, line-by-line response to Sider’s thesis. When Sider published his revised edition of Rich Christians, the back-cover copy promised readers that this new work would respond “to many of his critics by reconsidering and reformulating his arguments.” By the time the revised edition had been published, there had been at least ten critical responses to Rich Christians. The new edition of Rich Christians did not respond to any of them. In the 1997 fifth edition, there is still no mention of Chilton’s Productive Christians, a book that has nearly doubled in size since its publication in 1981.
It’s possible that Sider did not consider Chilton’s expose to be relevant. Of course, this is hardly possible given the comprehensive nature of the critique and how later editions of his work incorporated a number of Chilton’s policy recommendations. Maybe Sider had been unaware of the book for 16 years. Sider saw copies of Productive Christians when he and Dr. Gary North met for a debate at Gordon-Conwell Divinity School in 1981. In fact, North had hired Chilton to write Productive Christians so it would be available at the debate. Copies of the book arrived the day before the debate and were sold at the debate for $1.00.
I’ve rehearsed this bit of history to make a point: You have not adequately defended your position unless you have answered your most vociferous critic. The most comprehensive study of the Christian character of the Declaration is Gary T. Amos’ Defending the Declaration: How the Bible and Christianity Influenced the Writing of the Declaration of Independence (1989). If Dershowitz is going to make charges against the “Christian Right” and the way some of its undesignated spokesmen articulate their views on the Declaration, then it is incumbent upon him to deal with the one critic who makes the strongest case against his position. This single omission makes his book suspect. It’s not that he is not familiar with Amos. He quotes from Amos’ book, co-authored with Richard Gardiner, Never Before in History.
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As a law professor and defense attorney, Dershowitz knows that to fail to cross examine the strongest witness against your case is a major mistake that no good lawyer would make. So why did he fail to make any mention of Defending the Declaration? In addition to not mentioning the book by Amos, there is no reference to Daniel Dreisbach’s response to The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness (1996), by Cornell University professors Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore. These and other omissions taint the historical reliability of Blasphemy.
Claus von Bülow Should Thank His Lucky Stars
Blasphemy is a poorly argued book, not worthy of an attorney who is a distinguished Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Constitutional scholar Dershowitz’s style of historical argumentation is best described as “law office history,” selectively recounting facts, “emphasizing data that support” an arguer’s “own prepossessions and minimizing significant facts that complicate or conflict with [his] biases.” Claus von Bülow should thank his lucky stars that Dershowitz did a better job arguing to overturn his conviction for the attempted murder of his wife “Sunny” von Bülow than he’s done in defending a secular Declaration.
Bob Brown, “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical,” World Magazine (January 28, 2023), 36.
Alan Dershowitz, Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking our Declaration of Independence (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2007).
Sam Harris views children as tools for the State. Jamie White, “WTF: Sam Harris Complains Not Enough Children Died During Pandemic to Derail ‘Vaccine Skepticism,’” NewsWars (January 16, 2023). In August of 2022, Harris “admitted that social media giants censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story weeks before the election was ‘a left-wing conspiracy to deny the presidency to Donald Trump,’ and that Big Tech censorship was ‘warranted’ to help Joe Biden defeat Trump. ‘Hunter Biden literally could have had the corpses of children in his basement (on his laptop),’ Harris said. ‘I would not have cared.’”
“On February 9, 2011, Stark introduced a bill to Congress designating February 12, 2011 as Darwin Day; this was a collaboration between Stark and the American Humanist Association. The resolution states, ‘Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement … and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity.’ In 2011, he and eight other lawmakers voted to reject the existing national motto, ‘In God We Trust.’” (Source)
Derek H. Davis, “Religious Dimensions of the Declaration of Independence: Fact and Fiction” Journal of Church and State, 36:3 (Summer 1994), 469-482: https://doi.org/10.1093/jcs/36.3.469
Dershowitz’s Blasphemy, 85.
Anson Phelps Stokes and Leo Pfeffer, Church and State in the United States, rev. one-volume ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), 85.
Dershowitz’s Blasphemy, 70.
Dershowitz’s Blasphemy, 39.
Alan Dershowitz, Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age (Boston: Little, Brown, 2002), 11. Quoted in Dershowitz, Blasphemy, 37.
David Chilton, Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators: A Biblical Response to Ronald Sider (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1981).
For an account of this story, see Gary North, “The Theology of the Welfare State”: www.lewrockwell.com/north/north397.html. Also see, http://freebooks.entrewave.com/freebooks/docs/html/gnde/Appendix_F.htm
Daniel L. Dreisbach, “A Godless Constitution?: A Response to Krammick and Moore”: https://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1280479/posts
Dreisbach, “A Godless Constitution?”