Politics Magazine

The Rights Of American Citizens Do NOT Come From God

Posted on the 17 December 2017 by Jobsanger
The Rights Of American Citizens Do NOT Come From God
Right-wing politicians, in an effort to appeal to evangelical voters, love to claim that the rights afforded American citizens come from god. That is simply not true. All rights of U.S. citizens spring directly from the United States Constitution (particularly the Bill of Rights).
Andrew L. Seidel has written an excellent article on this subject for the Religious News Service. Here is part of that article:
When Virginia ratified 10 of the 12 proposed amendments to the Constitution on December 15, 1791, it became the 10th state to do so and gifted America with an enduring legacy, the Bill of Rights. We celebrate that heritage today. But for President Trump and many religious Americans, those rights are not secured by the Constitution or “We the People.” Instead, they are a gift from God. Trump is marking Bill of Rights Day and Human Rights Week with a proclamation that invoked our “God-given rights” three times. Trump has made similar claims many times, but so have other presidents, including President Obama. Roy Moore’s entire career is based on his idea that “Our rights are given by God.” He even argues that religious liberty “comes from God, not from the Constitution.” Premising our rights on some supernatural benevolence is dangerous. History has shown us that what is given by a god can be taken away by those who speak with or for that god. Slavery was God’s will, until it wasn’t. Segregation and anti-miscegenation laws were meant to keep the races separate, as God intended. The opposition to same-sex marriage was largely based in religion: “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Progress in many important areas of human rights has long been opposed by those claiming to know God’s mind and executing God’s will. True, religion helped in some of these causes, but the opposing justifications were nearly always situated in divine law. Human rights are absolute and universal; not susceptible to religious whim and fancy. Simply by virtue of being human — just because you were born — you have certain inherent, inalienable rights. . . . God-given rights are so problematic because they depend solely on a particular individual’s interpretation of his god’s word. Perhaps the interpreter adheres to some higher authority, such as a pope or an author of the Bible. But at the end of that line of spiritual authority, a human being is claiming to know “God’s will.” One person’s belief is suddenly given the weight of divine law. A fallible human is claiming divine sanction. This is moral relativism, which is often maligned by religious leaders, masquerading as moral absolutism. It is far better to premise human rights on the simple fact of being human, than to put them into the hands of one person claiming to speak for a supernatural being that may or may not exist. . . . Rights are not bestowed, not by magistrates, kings, or even by gods. Rights are asserted. Once they are asserted they must be defended.

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