By Representative Trent Franks – reprinted from The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
It is said that every baby comes with a message that God has not yet despaired of mankind.
For the past twenty-two years, my wife and I have had the privilege of teaching a Sunday School class for one- and two-year-olds. There is nothing that reminds you of the brevity of life more than watching a brand new generation rise up around your knees. It is also a reminder that God gives us no more precious earthly gift than that of our children.
As Christians, nothing should occupy our attention more than making sure that the next generation retains an abiding love for God and their fellow human beings.
However, we also must inculcate into the hearts and minds of future generations the great principles of human dignity, freedom, and patriotism that form the true essence of America.
Two hundred and twenty years ago, the framers of our Constitution did something singular in the long account of tyrannies, governments, and institutions invented whereby man sought to govern his fellow man.
A small but courageous group of soldiers, farmers, aristocrats, and tradesmen banded together and forever threw off the yoke of the crown of England to “secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity.”
Their resolve was ratified with the Declaration of Independence, which was in fact a promise to future generations to never again subject their children to the unchecked tyranny of arbitrary human government.
In those tumultuous days, there was perhaps no better or more justifiable case for establishing a permanent monarchy than under the noble and flint-like leadership of General George Washington. Many urged the general to do just that.
But instead, those first Americans took it upon themselves to do something completely revolutionary. Those men, who had seized for themselves potentially unlimited power over a nascent state completely vulnerable to the dictates of tyranny, chose to place checks and limitations upon their own power and upon all those in government who would follow them.
The European model of life said that God gave authority to kings and a government of kings who would hold the rights of men in their hands. The American model encapsulated the divine message of human dignity: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created, that they are all equal, and that they are all endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and that government exists to secure those rights.
Those first Americans understood that all men were individually accountable to God and that He first gave each of them the right to live. Without this first right of life firmly secured and clearly understood, they knew that all other rights would become meaningless; but with it, all other rights would follow.
The Constitution of the United States is a statement of eternal truths as much as it is a statement of principles that govern a nation. And as Christians, it is absolutely incumbent upon all of us to desperately remember the meaning of its words and to renew our commitment to guard against every erosion of that document and the liberties it embodies.
Daniel Webster’s admonition to all of us is so appropriate. He said: “Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6,000 years may never happen again. If the American Constitution should fall, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”
The United States of America has been and continues to be the base of Gospel outreach in the world, and a beacon of freedom and hope to all mankind.
However, we have reached a day in history when a monumental struggle for our culture and the hearts of our children is taking place in the public square.
And that struggle is raging as never before. Christians and conservatives have been deliberately targeted through legislation crafted to eliminate their First Amendment rights and thereby, their ability to engage the culture.
In the past year alone, legislation has been advanced such as the Fairness Doctrine (which has become a vehicle for the federal government to restrict free speech on the public airwaves), unconstitutional regulations on grassroots lobbying, hate crimes legislation that quashes the basic concept of equal justice engrained in our Republic, and increased federal funding for “family planning” groups that support abortion on demand. We have also faced threats to our national security from legislation that provides more rights to the terrorists who seek to destroy us than the citizens we are called to protect.
If we are to prevail against this onslaught, those devoted to the foundational American ideals must engage in the public forum as never before.
Our children will either inherit a future where the foundation of our Republic remains sound, or one where activist judges vacate the Constitution and drag America into a darkness where the light of human compassion has gone out and the predatory survival of the fittest prevails over humanity.
They will either inherit a world where freedom continues to grow, or where nuclear terrorism arrests the march of liberty for generations to come.
The next presidential and congressional elections will have a profound impact on these questions, and Christians have a duty to God and to their children to consider their ballot choices prayerfully and circumspectly.
In a letter to the Boston Gazette on April 2, 1781, Samuel Adams wrote, “Let each citizen remember, at the moment he is offering his vote, that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual . . . but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society, for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
As we go forward, let us remember that we do so on behalf of our children, that God Himself is with us in the struggle, and that “He has not yet despaired of mankind.”
Congressman Trent Franks represents Arizona in the United States House of Representatives.