September 17, 2018
It's a day without barbeques or fireworks, but it's no less monumental. Today is Constitution Day, when we recognize that 231 years ago, our Founding Fathers signed a document that would become the foundation for the world's greatest superpower and defender of freedom.
What exactly makes this piece of parchment, rather than any other, so great? Fundamentally, it is that the power of government is vested in "We the People," as Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Don Willett artfully explained in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend.
But without the freedom of religion, it is impossible to answer the following question: What kind of "People" should we be?
Freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution through the First Amendment, and rightfully so. John Adams said to the Massachusetts Militia, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Without religion and its guiding principles, the People have no guide, no rule, no script upon which to base their decisions.
Today, though Christians experience great hostility from popular media, members of all faiths are under threat as our government and culture seek to untether morals from religion. What will result, if these forces are left unchecked, is a society that abides by morals ad hoc and according to the whim of the most powerful political force. It is a society that fails to honor the Constitution Adams spoke of and supported.
The recent unearthing of President Ronald Reagan's letter to his father-in-law shows just how important it is to include faith in the discussion. President Reagan is revered not only for his successful conservative policies but for his tremendous character as well. Though Reagan emerged from a generation that consider faith more of a personal matter, a culture that stamps out faith in the public square in the name of so-called "nondiscrimination," "inclusion," or "tolerance" risks denying how deeply the role of faith is connected to our decisions about government and our personal lives.
Adams's words of warning are just as relevant today as they were in 1798 and those words should make clear that attacks on religious freedom are ultimately attacks on the very foundation of the Constitution. To ensure the Constitution continues to stand, let's fortify and strengthen the foundation.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.