The Fourth is a Time to Fight
This weekend we unfurl the flag and shoot off fireworks to honor the principles upon which our country was founded, the freedoms and virtues that our republic was born to embody. We remember the countless Americans who marched beneath our colors, defending their homeland and their freedom, and political principles which we rightly name as “sacred.”
The Fourth of July is a time for celebration, but it’s also a time to recommit ourselves to champion those American principles, and to remember that those principles stand over against some very particular evils:
- Arbitrary seizure and use of private property by the state in the name of the “common good.”
- A corrupt bargain between the government and religion, with funds and favors flowing to the churches that toe the government line, and taxes and bans restricting the free exercise of religion.
- Government micromanagement of the economy, with politically connected companies exploiting their crony connections to legislators and restricting the freedom of commerce.
- Paternalistic government, which saw the common man as a hapless sheep, to be herded and sheared by elites.
- The concentration of power in a single, national government that bullied colonies, cities and villages, imposing a single uniform policy on a diverse and various country.
Each of these things our forefathers denounced, defied and defeated. Each generation of Americans has had to re-fight the American Revolution in one way or another, hefting the leaden weight of our fallen wills that drags us down toward vice and tyranny. Ben Franklin, when asked what manner of government the infant Constitution offered, said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Like each fresh crop of Americans before us, we find republic-keeping a bold and arduous duty. Sometimes we keep it safe in wars, at other times we keep it back from the brink of a cliff. And now we keep our republic faithful to its principles by resisting it, by refusing to obey unjust laws that betray our nation’s honor.
Study is important, but even more urgent is prayer. Yes, pray and thank God for the honored dead who gave their lives to defend this patch of earth, this happy exception to the usual human rule that the state is a parasite controlled by political predators. Drawing on all that was best and truest in the Western heritage of political philosophy, our Founders crafted an ingenious machine to restrain the worst impulses of man — both in and out of government. And despite its flaws and failures, the American government has indeed shone forth as a beacon, like the torch that stands in the harbor of my beloved, if battered, hometown New York City.
This year, more than most, our prayers must look to the future. This is not the easiest time to be an American Christian, or a Christian American. The core elements of our creed are under attack from without and within, while our nation’s civic religion has been rewritten by the Supreme Court to exclude every orthodox Christian. A cabal of radicals has gained control of the government. They wish to control all our churches, and find willing collaborators in all too many pulpits. Has the American Revolution been reversed and replaced with the French Revolution?
Unless Christians stand up, unite and fight, this may be one of the last Fourths of July we can celebrate as full citizens, and the last election in which we have any meaningful voice. If the federal government moves on to punitively taxing Christian churches, how fitting would it be for us to raise the red, white and blue and shoot off fireworks to honor that government? We might be forced instead to mourn our vanished republic.
So let’s celebrate while we can, while there is still a fighting chance to keep our freedom of faith. Let us wave the flag in honor of what the Constitution actually says, not what a narrow majority of black-robed gnostic oligarchs pretend that it really means. You don’t need a secret decoder ring to understand what “free exercise of religion” signifies. Let us go out and exercise it fiercely.
Let us work up a sweat. We must demand that our legislators act to defend our First Amendment rights. Let us scrutinize each candidate for president, and see if he favors the punitive taxing of faithful churches. Let us contact each of those candidates, and warn that we won’t support them if they betray us.
We should tell our pastors that we will dig deep and sacrifice to sustain them if they stand firm. We should make financial plans with such a sacrifice in mind. Likewise, let pastors know we won’t sit quietly if they allow themselves to be transformed by the culture rather than seeking to transform it.
As much as we might love the trappings of a congregation or a country that we have called a home, we love freedom and the gospel more.