October 23, 2021

Subject: The America Experience, Part 1: Defining Liberty

Leviticus 25:10 “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.”

Ed Croteau

Liberty is a wonderful but complicated concept that means different things to different people. It doesn’t mean doing whatever you want. Liberty means doing what you should. America is founded on the liberty of the individual to pursue happiness as they define it, but within the laws designed to protect other’s liberties.

For example, the Bill of Rights ensures liberty from a tyrannical government. The Constitution constrains both federal and state governments. The Founders set up a separation of powers within government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial) to prevent one branch from too much power to restrict domestic liberties.

We also want liberty from foreign governments. But to protect us against foreign tyranny, the Founders knew we must place some restrictions on domestic liberty. For example, our government taxes us to pay for our military. Our government also can draft us to fight in wars – certainly restricting domestic liberty.

But outside of tyrannical governments and foreign invaders, how do we adjudicate individual liberties? Where do my rights start and yours stop? Are there any restrictions on liberty that are necessary? The Constitution doesn’t tell us. How do we resolve this? What about employers? What about tech companies trying to control internet flow? What about large businesses trying to stifle competition?

While the Constitution defines explicit liberties (free speech, bearing arms, freedom of religion), our Founders gave the Courts power to define the scope of these types of invasions on our liberties.

But our Founders believed that most decisions in our lives should not be made by the government or the courts, but by us as citizens! Things like what job I want to apply for, what business I want to start, who I choose to associate with, what my opinion is on just about any topic (whether made in public or private).

Our Founders left us to figure where, if anywhere, liberty is needing restriction. It’s called the democratic process of voting. When we disagree on issues not covered by the Constitution or the Courts, we vote. To win your position, you must win elections.

This American ideal of liberty is highlighted on our Liberty Bell, which has this week’s bible verse on it. Liberty is tied directly to our Christian roots in our faith as a nation in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ. Liberty is distinctly an American ideal. This is what the Founders wanted.

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.