B.J. Paschal is simply wrong in his Oct. 31 column, "Framers left God out of Constitution; their genius shaped our nation's values." By asserting that American rights originate in the Constitution, he perpetuates the myth of a secular founding and separates our rights from their source.
The Founders were very clear in their appear to the King of England that their rights came from God. Exhibit A is the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration, the Americans referred to God in biblical terms four times. First, as the Lawgiver: "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Second, as the Creator: "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." Third, as the Judge: "the Supreme Judge of the World." Fourth, as Providence: "with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence."
Exhibit B is the collection of the statements of the Founders themselves. The following signers of the Constitution were adamant in their understanding of God as the source of our rights.
John Dickinson referred to the pre-existing rights which the Constitution merely declares. "Our liberties do not come from charters, for these are only the declarations of pre-existing rights. They do not depend on parchment or seals, but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth."
Alexander Hamilton also stated emphatically, "The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, but the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
Thomas Jefferson, no example of orthodox Christianity, also understood God as the source of our rights and freedom: "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not violated but with His wrath?"
To these statements we could add more from the pen of Washington, Adams and scores of others. The teaching of the Bible that God had endowed mankind with rights gave them the moral standing to declare their independence from the Crown of England and the strength to fight for their freedom. Without this conviction, these Americans would have remained loyal subjects of the King.
To argue that the Founders originated American rights in the writing of the Constitution flies in the face of everything they said and did in the decades leading to American independence. Professor Paschal's argument rests on the credulity of his readers. He is counting on our ignorance of the Declaration of Independence, the writings of the Founders and American history.
The truth of the matter is, to neglect the following line from the Declaration of Independence, we cannot understand America: "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." If our rights were given to us by the Constitution of 1787, they can be taken away by the author of another Constitution. That is a chilling thought.