The recent Republican National Convention featured one speaker after another declaring with the utmost certainty and positive conviction that the rights of all Americans come from God; in particular the Christian God.
Is that so?
Where do they get that knowledge?
Are human rights God given?
None of these Republican politicians are recognized as religious authorities, messiahs or prophets by any stretch, nor do any of them have the audacity to claim a direct pipeline into the mind of God.
They must ultimately, therefore, obtain their knowledge of God’s word and works from the only universally recognized source of religious authority available to Christians and Jews: The Holy Bible.
But strangely these God given rights advocates never rely on the Bible to support their claims.
Instead, they always quote Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”
Thomas Jefferson? This man was not a man of God – certainly not a Christian -- nor was he a Jew, but rather a Deist clearly espousing a Natural Rights philosophy in the late 18th century Age of Reason and Enlightenment.
Yet the Republican Christian conservatives can’t resist latching on to the word “Creator” as if that were some sort of mystical proof that the rights of all Americans are God given.
Thomas Jefferson believed that basic fundamental human rights are derived from nature. He was most definitely not referring to the Christian God of the Holy Bible and that fact is obvious from the context and content of his words.
Natural rights philosophy is the antithesis of divine rights philosophy. It has its origins in the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Thomas Paine, among others, who believed that the most fundamental rights of man are derived from natural law and include life, liberty and property. Thomas Jefferson added to this list “pursuit of happiness.”
Each of these so-called natural rights share one thing plainly in common: they are found nowhere within the many pages of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. Neither God nor Jesus Christ ever declared that human beings have fundamental rights to life, liberty, property or the pursuit of happiness, or, for that matter, any rights at all.
Instead both God and Jesus proclaim emphatically that human beings belong to God. They are supposed to live only for god and not themselves. They are not free. The pursuit of happiness is referred to over and over in the Bible as a sin.
To God and Jesus, man is an object of sacrifice – not a beneficiary of rights.
In the final analysis, it is clear that the rights of man are neither divine nor natural. They don’t simply exist independent of human interaction. They aren’t inalienable. They are the product of consciousness and a civilized social contract.
We are not born with natural or God-given rights. Rights are part of a common and recognized social agreement among civilized men. Rights are what are recognized as rights by other human beings.
Without that agreement among human beings there are no rights.
Once again the ultra-right-wing religionists have it wrong:
There exist no God given rights.