The American Belief About the Basis of Our Rights

Do our rights as Americans come from God or man?  Do they come from our Creator or do we grant them to each other?  Alas, we have to acknowledge that our fellow citizens seem unaware of the correct answer to this question.  You don’t have to be a Christian to be able to answer this question; you only have to be aware of basic American history – like the kind I took in the seventh grade.

This video clip (4 min, and 27 sec) is hard to watch because the two men are having a heated argument.  They are arguing about same-sex “marriage,” but that’s not my focus in this post.  The point to which I want to call your attention is when Chris Cuomo, the interviewer, says essentially this:

“Our rights do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man… That’s your faith, that’s my faith, but that’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.”  (If you listen to 0:40 through 1:20, you’ll hear him start the statement, then later re-start and complete it.)

Now I readily admit that Chris Cuomo has an abrasive personality, but what he is saying on this subject represents the thinking of most Americans these days – certainly the elite Americans who are running things.  Obviously, anyone can read the Declaration of Independence and see that those who founded this country would not agree with Cuomo.  But that’s just the problem: if the answer is plain as day right in the Declaration but educated people and media spokesmen like Chris Cuomo act as if it’s not, what are you going to do?

The American belief is that our rights come from God and the purpose of government is to secure those rights.  To use the language of the Declaration of Independence:

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… (Source:  Archives.gov)

Chris Cuomo is a well-educated man and a credentialed lawyer.  Here’s a section of his Wikipedia bio:

Cuomo was educated at The Albany Academy, a private university preparatory day school in Albany in New York State, followed by Yale University, where he obtained an undergraduate degree, and Fordham University where he obtained his Juris Doctor. He is a licensed attorney.

That his statement in this interview never seemed to have made news confirms to us that he is expressing a view that is not controversial.  The only way that you could accept his view without controversy is if you did not know what the Declaration of Independence says or if you do not care what it says.  Therefore, either one or both of these characterizations apply to the majority of American citizens today.  They considered the references to God in our founding documents to be like powered wigs – trappings of a prior age that are to be discarded like outdated fashions.

If Americans do not use the Declaration of Independence to inform their views on basic American principles, how can we be surprised when they don’t use the Bible to inform their views on basic moral principles?

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