Subject: The American Experiment: Guiding Principle #1
Ecclesiastes 5:2 “God is in heaven, and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few.”
After a narrow 5-4 victory this week in the Supreme Court, President Trump’s travel ban on citizens from 7 countries (Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela) traveling to the US was upheld. Protestors against the Supreme Court decision are declaring SCOTUS has become partisan, actually violating the Constitution by siding with the President in religious discrimination against Muslims.
This comes on the heels of our ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers being advised to not wear any identifying insignias out in public when off duty, for fear of public attack. Those defending our borders against illegal immigration are being targeted as racists, discriminating against Mexicans.
But how did SCOTUS come to their decision? By turning to Constitutional law. The court said the president has, by our Constitution, substantial power to regulate immigration. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts stated: “The sole prerequisite set forth is that the President find that the entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The President has undoubtedly fulfilled that requirement here.” By law, the office of the President has been given the power to ban any group of people from entering the US if the President decides their presence would be detrimental to US interests.
In the dissenting statement, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said “a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.” The fact is that 92% of Muslims in the world are not impacted by the travel ban. Citizens of Saudi Arabia (93% Muslim), Pakistan (96% Muslim), Iraq (97% Muslim), Turkey (99.5% Muslim), Afghanistan (98% Muslim), to name just a few, are free to come and go in America as they wish. We are now accusing Supreme Court Justices, along with anyone supporting our current President, with discriminating against certain people groups (not Mexicans this time, but Muslims).
So now we are seeing attacks on the Constitution itself. The theme of most attacks is that it is outdated and no longer works in a progressive American culture where people are capable of making decisions that are in the best interests of most Americans. In other words, let’s allow people to govern people since we are basically good and will mostly do what is best for each other, being accountable for each other’s interests. Hence the character attacks now on even our SCOTUS justices, who are upholding Constitutional law.
Thankfully, our Founders knew the danger of implementing a system without checks and balances, where any majority could decide policy. Writing in National Review, Jay Cost’s article ‘Let’s Not Throw Out the Constitution’ makes the point of why we need the Constitution – because of the overwhelming tendency of man to turn on one another for each one’s own selfish benefits: “When I look at America in 2018, I see a country where a wide swath of people are uninterested and poorly informed, unaware of even the basics of civics to know how our government works, and unwilling to dedicate the time necessary to learn.
I see the special interests that finance politics, employing campaign contributions, lobbying, and other subtle crafts to take advantage of public indolence for their own purposes. I look at the ideological poles, where citizens are more engaged. That is good, but it is also at the extremes where I see intense hatred of their ideological opponents. If granted total power, would one side criminalize the other? Would the broad middle, in its laziness and ignorance, actually let them do it? I still think we require ways to temper and control the rule of the majority, which remains the most fearful power in a republic such as ours.”
As we begin our look at the Founders’ 10 guiding principles for the “American Experiment”, they form the very basis of our Constitution. And the first one is the foundation of our Declaration of Independence. This most important principle unfortunately no longer guides everyday American life, so you don’t hear it discussed much in public. Guiding principle #1 is that there is a God to whom we are accountable.
America is not a theocracy. Our system of government was built on the right of each of us to worship (or not worship) freely. But it is a fact that America was founded with a religious identity. And the #1 principle is that it is a supernatural Creator, not human government, to whom we are accountable for our behavior. Our Founders not only understood there is a God – they also reached that understanding by consensus.
By acknowledging God as our foundational principle, our Founders grounded individual human liberties in our connection as human beings to Him, thus protecting us all from the reaches of government, as well as from the rule of majority opinion. Let us hope our laws remain centered on this Constitutional imperative.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.