They are not "God given" rights. There is no mention of Deity in the U.S. Constitution other than the date. This was not accidental, The Constitution is the first government document in history that did not state that government power derived from the Divine.
It's not deductively or inherently provable and certainly not stated in the text. I consider that a major accomplishment. All those wars "caused" by who worshipped what or who followed which translation. And here these men, some very devout and most among the best educated of their time, created a government that did not derive from the Divine.
This is an argument that I have made extensively before. Usually when someone starts pushing "God given rights" over what is specifically recognized by the Constitution, the next step is "God's law" over "man's law." That type of discussion (and occasional misuse of authority) is far too common.
The Constitution sets up limits on government. The Bill of Rights recognizes certain existing rights among others.
As long as the rights exist and are recognized, it's not important. But as I said, often people use the idea of "God given rights" to decide who gets what right and what special circumstances apply. American history is full of those special circumstances even today.
My problem is which god?
That's where the arguments start. Because if someone can use their beliefs to determine who gets rights and who doesn't, then it doesn't matter where you claim the rights came from. That makes rights subject to the politics of the age. Not to mention defining exactly what a right is and which rights exist. And if you dare dissent, well, who are you to question "God's law?"
If you use the Constitution to impose religious dogma, you will destroy both the Constitution and the religion.
Because like it or not, religion and it's practice is capricious, arbitrary, contradictory, and an imposition upon others, subject to the whims of those who presume to rule over us. The religion you profess today is not the religion of the same name that was practiced a century ago. Religion is the organized application of faith, but that organization is political and always has been political. It's always, always subject to change. Your own religion shows this. Why else would you ignore so much Old Testament law?
I'm saying that if you make recognizing where rights come from, it will always end in politics. We know that because that is exactly what has happened and that is what we must fight to keep from happening.
The Founders saw one way out, and it took them a few tries. Even now, their descendants still argue about it. The Founders knew that faith had to be personal.
It's not about if religion (or a a religion) is a net moral good or not. Declaring that rights come from your faith and you deign out of the goodness of your heart to allow the poor non-believers to use them will rub anyone raw if they don't share your faith. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure we can get most people to accept that the rights exist if we don't specify where those rights come from.
This is not a slam on your faith or Christianity or monotheism. I'm not interested in what faith you follow. I'm interested in the rights. It's not a right unless the other has it too.>/p>
What does "God given rights" mean to an atheist? A Muslim? A Hindu? Because if you can't guarantee their rights except in terms of your religion, then it's not about their rights and freedoms. It's about enshrining your religion in law that no one else is allowed to question. It's about setting your beliefs above others. We know this because it has already happened.
I'm a freedom fanatic, not a religious one. The only time I go after faith or religious people is when I judge they want their beliefs to control the actions, words, or thoughts of others. I suspect that makes you uncomfortable because the same reason I use against certain feminists and progressives can also be used against Christian conservatives when they want to impose their beliefs and ethics on society. Those may be good and moral rules, but not when it's the One True Faith. It's the main reason I oppose the climate change panic crowd. They want their rules to apply to everyone. As far as I am concerned, you can choose your own actions and beliefs so long as you don't force anyone else to comply.
If the Constitution is really "We the People," it can't be some people
It's an American precept that rights are not granted by government and that government should exist only to protect those rights and liberties. For the first time we know of, government recognized that rights are inherent in the individual and not something that could be controlled by a higher authority.
Not even if the thing trying to control rights was holy or speaking for the Divine.
Whatever the inspiration, whatever the origin, the Constitution could not recognize a higher authority than the rights of the people. Doing anything else would limit those rights.
My take for what it's worth is that there isn't much point to life if there are absolute wrongs and absolute rights. What works in one place and time probably won't work everywhere and every time. We have to choose. The measure of a man is in the lives he touches. It's up to us to leave the World a little better than we found it.
If you believe those rights are God given, that's your choice. But if the rights are Constitutional, there can be no recognized higher authority. You religious belief and your religious law can not supersede the Constitution. Unless you want your religious belief and your religious law superseded.
We've not been disagreeing that those rights exist and should be protected. We've disagreed on if those rights are God given or not. I'm telling you that once the Constitution gives way on this issue, then American government will cease protecting rights and will start promoting privilege. The Constitution (and by extension the nation) can only recognize that those rights exist and can't be changed. Anything else means sacrificing those rights.
Compare the Constitution to the Articles of Confederation. Specifically this passage:
❝And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union.❞
The Constitution recognizes no greater power than the people. Unlike every other government document in "Christendom" at the time, the Constitution does not recognize a Divine power. I can't stress this enough, that had never been done before.
This change was not a casual one, nor was it a mistake. It was a deliberate action to remove Divinity from government. Not from men's hearts and minds, but from government. Even in the colonies' own history, religion had been used through government to control others. And then just to cap it all off, there was the First Amendment. The Founders knew from study, reason, and their own experience that the only way to prevent faith from being an instrument of government or government from being an instrument of religion was to do the unthinkable.
Faith has to be chosen or it has no meaning at all. It cannot be imposed by other humans. This was the truth that the Founders realized. This is what made religious freedom in America possible. And it's why the Constitution can recognize rights, but not where those rights might have originated.
The problem wasn't in the rights, it was (and still is) that some take it upon themselves to decide who gets what rights when. All in the name of the Divine.
Let's not forget this wisdom:
❝That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.❞
The Divine doesn't establish governments. Men and women do that. There is no official seal of approval from on high showing that a government is worthy. And there is certainly nothing granting rights in the Constitution. The rights are there, government can only take them away. Demanding that Constitutional rights are "God given" just establishes your beliefs over anyone else's. Faith is between you and the Divine, government can't be involved without undermining or destroying your faith.
Let me cut through this and move to the real issue.
I'll fight for and defend Constitutional rights. But if it's going to be "God given" rights, I'll step aside and watch the crash before lifting one finger. It's not because I am anti-Christian or that I hate Christianity. And I certainly don't hate Christians or you specifically. It's just that I won't make my faith and my principles subservient to yours.
Just as you won't make yours subservient to mine.
I know many (and suspect most) non-Christians feel the same.
Is it more important that I defend the rights? Or is it more important that I am bound to your banner in the name of your G*d?
Would you submit if it were done to you?