“We, the people of the state of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare do establish this Constitution.”
-Preamble to the Idaho Constitution, 1890
The Declaration of Independence articulated the “self-evident” truth that every person is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Early Americans were immersed in the biblical worldview unleashed by the Protestant Reformation, which provided the theologically rich insight that human freedom is a gift from God. This axiom became part and parcel of the American mind; it was preached regularly from the church pulpit and taught to each rising generation in the schoolhouse classroom and university lecture hall.
John Adams famously observed that the American people became “more attentive to their liberties” because “our pulpits thundered!” One such example of a thundering pulpit was the Second Baptist Church of Boston, where John Allen served as pastor. In an influential sermon that was published and widely circulated among patriots in the years directly preceding the War for Independence, Allen exclaimed:
Liberty! Who would not prize it? Who would not adore it? It is the finished work of Heaven! The majesty of God! O this is Liberty divine! Guard your freedom, prevent your chains, stand up as one man for your liberty, for none but those who set a just value upon this blessing are worthy of the enjoyment of it.
This biblical view of liberty permeated American culture. As tensions ratcheted up between the American colonists and their British rulers, delegates from Suffolk, Massachusetts, expressed that God will hold us accountable for our diligence in preserving the rights He has given us:
It is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves, and our posterity, by all the lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend, and preserve those civil and religious rights and liberties, for which many of our fathers fought, bled, and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations.
Generations of Americans understood that ordered liberty is one of the most precious blessings of God. Now it is our turn to preserve this sacred birthright of liberty for our children and grandchildren.
We should never forget the warning cry of Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
It is my prayer that we may all be found faithful in carrying out this responsibility.