Sunday, September 19, 2010

Obama, Our Rights and Our Creator

Jeffrey H. Anderson has a brief note on the Weekly Standard blog on the curious incident the other night in which Barack Obama left out the words "by their Creator" when quoting from the Declaration of Independence in a speech. He writes:
The most famous words in the Declaration of Independence — and almost surely the most famous words ever written by an American — read, “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.”

On Friday evening, when President Obama addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, he quoted that passage as follows (on the clip at 22:30): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal [pause], endowed with certain unalienable rights: life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In Obama’s version, there is no “Creator.”

Only two plausible explanations spring to mind. One is that President Obama isn’t very familiar with the most famous passage in the document that founded this nation; that even when plainly reading from a teleprompter, he wasn’t able to quote it correctly. The other is that President Obama doesn’t subscribe to the Declaration’s rather central claim that our rights come from our “Creator” (also referred to in the Declaration as “Nature’s God” and “the Supreme Judge of the World”).

Only the president likely knows for certain which of these two explanations is true, or whether perhaps there is another. His nearly 4-second pause before he omits reference to our Creator, however, is peculiar. He stares at the teleprompter, purses his lips, blinks several times — as if confused, disturbed, and/or in the process of making a decision — and then proceeds to use his alternate wording.
This is the type of thing one would be tempted to just blow off in any other situation. But Obama is a big government, progressive who seems to think the Government can do anything it wants. And under the circumstances American might be forgiven for being a little over-wrought about the Constitution and other founding documents of their audacious experiment in self-government. With twenty states suing the federal government for passing an unconstitutional health care law, people are a mite touchy. The mood of the country is swinging decisively against unrestrained social engineering by bureaucrats in the name of the Omnipotent State.

This is not the first time Obama has gone off-script and embarrassed himself in recent weeks. He looked like a whiny brat complaining that "people" talk about him like a dog the other day. Is the stress getting to him?


Anonymous said...

But the creator portrayed by the Bible, does not grant "unalienable rights" to individuals. Ask a Canaanite. Who are you trying to defend here? The god of the modified Thomas Jefferson Bible? The god of america? Or the God of the Bible?

Craig Carter said...

You are trying to create a false dichotomy.

If it is wrong for me to murder you then it is necessarily right for government to make a law forbidding it and to ensure that you are not murdered by me. In this sense you have a right not to be murdered.

Jefferson's point, which seems to be lost on modern liberals, is that the right not to be murdered is not something invented by human government to be awarded or withdrawn according to the whims of the rulers, but rather a natural law written into the Creation by the Creator. This belief also undergirds the Ten Commandments.

Trying to drive a wedge between the Bible and the Declaration is hopelessly muddled thinking. If you think a human government recognizing the Ten Commandments is inconsistent with Divine judgment being poured out on Canaanites, you just don't get the point that it is human action which is limited by natural law. Or do you think that the government can legitimately pass a law legalizing genocide as the Nazis did?

Judgment belongs to the Lord; human government in the NT era has limits. On this point, the Declaration and the Bible are in agreement.