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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Can Freedom Survive without Virtue?

Michael Novak, Stonehill College alumnus and Templeton Awardee, and his assistant Mitch Boersma, wrote an article entitled "Can Freedom Survive without Virtue?" They quote Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush as follows: "The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without it there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."

If the agents of secularism succeed in privatizing religion, removing it from the public scquare and civil discourse, the future of liberty is jeopardized. There are forces in this country that campaign to separate all religion from public life. Yet the Founders asserted that the republic needed good citizens to survive and prosper; good citizens must by definition be virtuous; religion is the principal agent in shaping a virtuous man or woman. Therefore, the suppression of religion and/or its banishment from public life and discourse, leads inevitably to the destruction of the republic. It seems the Founders understood the necessity of religion for a good society, when they declared that "all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that mong these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." These God-given rights derive not from the largesse of government and can be safegaurded only by the rearing of virtuous children who grow to become good citizens. 

The second major threat to the survival of the Republic is the weakeninig of family life. For Liberty to prosper in the breasts of citizens, the family must be favored and strengthened by society, government and especially churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious communities. Failing this social support, the family disintegrates. Without family life, not even the force of religion can supply the basic building blocks of personal formation into virtuous men and women, the only source we can draw on to raise up good citizens.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts about this important issue of freedom and liberty.

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