Dr. Thomas E. Woods in The Latin Mass Magazine, Spring 2003 issue, made a compelling argument that a fundamental difference separates what the United States effected through the war of 1776-1781 and the events in France circa 1789. The latter, according to Dr. Woods, was a revolution, the former an appeal to tradition. Dr. Woods avers that freemasonry produced the revolution, but had little effect on the proponents of tradition.
His assessment is correct in the particulars, but fails to see a broader connection between the Gallic rebels and the Yankee "traditionalists". True, the Americans did not seek to overthrow tradition in taxation, the penal code, or trade. They did, however, do the very things Dr. Woods described the French revolutionaries as having done, establishing "new governing structures, new provincial boundaries, a new 'religion'," albeit without the threat of the guillotine hanging over anyone's head, pardon the pun.
The United States Constitution abolished the monarchy, erected a sovereign nation entirely disassociated from its mother country, and forbade a state religion. This last flies in the face of the natural law, the above statement from Madison, and the remarks of James Otis quoted by Dr. Woods: "There must be in every instance, a higher authority, viz. GOD" (emphasis in the original).
It is in the abandonment of a shared faith that America's revolution truly lies. Without common worship, virtue can not be agreed upon, rendering Madison's warning prophetic insofar as ours is a singularly vicious society. Without common worship, sovereignty rests not in God, but in the very legal positivism Dr. Woods quite correctly illustrates formed part of the founding fathers' rationale for resisting Britain, but was also operative in Revolutionary France, and is corrupting the American court system even now by way of jurists' declarations of the newfound 'rights' to murder babies in the womb and/or birth canal and for sodomites to wed with the blessing of the state. Without common worship, novelty and innovation become a phenomenon not only within liturgical experience, but in jurisprudence, economics, politics, and even science. Without God as the absolute guarantor of any human enterprise, disorder is inevitable.
An argument can be made that the United States Constitution intends to preserve tradition. This is best seen in the explicit reservation to the states of all powers that are not defined for the federal government. It is the violation of this fundamental principle, the encroachment of the central government on states' and individuals' rights, that constitutes the evolution of the American experiment from a defensible assertion of human rights in the face of tyranny, to the indefensible and at times demonic (cf. Roe vs. Wade) assertion of human willfulness over divine law.
It is a curious irony that many who so stridently insist on federal protection of child murderers in the face of states that would pass laws limiting or eliminating the foul practice, are among the most vocal proponents of states' rights when said states wish to sanction the union of sodomites in blasphemous "marriages". Legal positivism destroys the very grounds for passing, enforcing, and interpreting the law. Brute force, either by militia or by majority, is the final arbiter of what is legal. This is impossible to avoid when the good is intentionally rejected as the measure of what is allowable and desirable in a society. The American Constitution appeals not to God as its summum bonum, but "the people of the United States" as sovereign, as lawgiver, as judge of man and men.
What is worst about the Constitution is not what it contains. The Constitution's primary fault lies in the absence of precisely that which James Madison insisted was necessary for the people who would implement it. As is so with an alarming proportion of our citizens, the Constitution ignores God and thus lacks virtue. It is powerless to prevent the very injustice which it ostensibly was crafted to alleviate. It is powerless to give our sovereign God the honor due Him according to justice.
A House Divided
Thomas Jefferson paraphrased Locke's enumeration of inalienable rights as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution was meant to safeguard an individual's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness against the government's infringements on matters of religion. It is a cruel irony that this vital element in the Constitution has had exactly the opposite effect.
Abortion denies the right to life to the unborn citizen. Prohibitions against prayer in schools deny the right to liberty of religious expression to parents, students, and teachers. And the general disavowal of a place for God in the public discourse denies man's supreme raison d'etre, to know, love, and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in eternal life. Separation of the state from the Church has resulted in a nation ignorant of Christ and thus incapable of life, liberty, and happiness. For to know Christ is to be free (St. John 8:32), to know Him is to have life (St. John 17:3), and to know Him is to experience perfect beatitude (St. Matthew 5:12).
Two rulings from the Supreme Court in the year 2000 point out the glaring contradiction between faith as it is taught and faith as it is practiced. In virtually the same breath the majority of the Justices claimed that the Constitution forbids prayer in public school football stadiums and allows babies to be impaled at birth. Our courts would rob our children of public expressions of faith and the right to life. We are setting a precedent by which future generations (if any survive our rapacious license) will be able to rationalize a denial not only of God and physical security, but of every guarantee that justice is anything but the arbitrary whim of those in power.
The United States of America has been called the most religious nation on earth. But how can we separate Church and state when we are the Church and we are the state. A house divided against itself must fall. What if a man in himself is divided?
Decisions of the Supreme Court have provided some indication of what many think the relationship between these two spheres of experience should be. A 'high wall', a term coined by Jefferson, characterizes the boundary cleaving the ecclesiastic and the political realms. Some have described the recent protections of freedom for religion as being freedom from religion.
Advocates of lowering the wall frequently point out that the Constitution's framers did not envision a public forum without a religious presence. It is clear that the early philosophers of American democracy took for granted a rather strong involvement of the Church in matters of state. Concurrently, the state was seen as a protector and endorser of religious life.
Modern interpretation of the Constitution denies that the Establishment Clause means more than an allowance for religious affairs to be conducted by individuals and groups within narrowly set bounds. The body politic can not accept (nor reject) the idea of a spirit politic. Each must make these determinations on his own and then act according to conscience. The government is not permitted to impede or to assist this process.
These arguments for and against constitutional readings on freedom of religion miss an extraordinarily important point. Groups can define the scope of law, the reach of free expression of faith, and terms for interaction between moral and legal entities. It is impossible for an individual to demarcate where the soul ends and secular interests begin.
Put aside the legal questions stemming from the Constitution. Explain instead how a person determines for himself when he is being a man of faith and where he is exercising his rights as a citizen. What kind of integrity can be expected from a society of people able to separate love from justice?
It seems disingenuous to couch the debate on religious freedom in cultural terms. No one, not God Himself, can deny a man's faith. Whether or not a nation decides to have a large amount of religious freedom is not for the government to mandate. A nation has as much religious freedom as its citizens dare to exercise. Laws can neither restrict nor guarantee love.
Yet our society denies definitive good and evil. If there is neither good nor evil, there can be no virtue. If there is no virtue, there is no virtuous electorate. If there is no virtuous electorate, there will be nothing but panderers and demagogues to be elected by the selfish and the amoral. Injustice will be championed by Court Justices.
You can not legislate morality, true, but you can hide behind laws to rationalize injustice. The Faith does not need a constitutional amendment. It only needs human hearts willing to believe. Between right and rights there is no separation.
An Ounce of Prevention
Where Dr. Woods is most unintentionally correct is in his assertion that the founding fathers desired to preserve tradition. What Dr. Woods fails to see is that the "tradition" in question was in no way Catholic. It did have freemasons, even more it had protestants, but above all it was secularist, which is much the same as saying protestant which is a short trek to freemasonry (basically the path from 1517 to 1717). The founding fathers through the Constitution carried on the denial of Catholic philosophy, theology, and morality begun in the "enlightenment" and ending all around us in a great apostasy.
Americans have a penchant for mimicking their "betters" across the pond. This is a time-honored weakness and insecurity within our national psyche. The old saw that America is a rush from barbarism to decadence without an intervening culture has caused untold hand-wringing among the European wannabes of the American "intelligentsia".
Having said this, the more down-to-earth among us have a snobbishness against snobbery. One of the worst things of which to be accused by a good ol' boy is the crime of putting on airs. One of the best ways to get elected by a populous of good ol' boys is for a multimillionaire to put on jeans and get photographed glad-handing at the union hall - a hall likely laid under siege by the millionaire's usurious ancestors against uppity union-card-carrying wage slaves.
We want wealth and all of its trappings, but none of its hierarchy. We want learning and all of its privileges, but none of its discipline. We want to have and eat the cake that Marie Antoinette offered the mob in vain - and we want the mob to bake the cake for us. We want to be of the mob but not in the mob.
Not so long ago, in the last decade of the last century of the last millennium, we impeached a President of the United States. One of the defenses offered for him was that the Europeans found little or nothing of note in his adulterous fornication. For the French, it was said innumerable times, a man's mistress is his wife's business and no one else's. Opponents of the Chief Executive were accused of voyeurism, political character assassination, and intellectual troglodytism.
Many of the same imperial defenders are now criticizing the current occupant of the Oval Office for his warmongering on the grounds that our friends abroad think ill of the effort. The very people who would pooh-pooh the moral rein that is the sentiment, "What would the neighbors think?" now insist that what the neighbors think should be what we think, even if the neighbors are not thinking so clearly. Even when the neighbors are moral troglodytes.
And here we come to the real peril engendered by the European penchant for revolution that gave us the twentieth century, the bloodiest century man has ever known. It was not the concentration camps. It was not the gas chambers. It was not the internal exiles. Europe's horror was none other than the European mind, indeed the loss thereof.
These past five-hundred years and more, the minds of Europe have embarked on the systematic dismantling of all that has made European culture. The Church, objective truth, and the affirmation of human rights in the context of a commonwealth of citizens obedient to God, have given way to atheism, scepticism, and the diminishment of man to a status of less worth than the average beast on the endangered species list. Refusing God, doubting reality, and glorifying nature while insisting that man is neither natural nor supernatural, Europe has set about the task of destroying itself.
This can be seen in the abysmally low birth rate on the Continent. It is witnessed in the zeal for casting aside the sovereignty of nations in favor of a common currency on the way to a common law. And nowhere is it more in evidence than in the moribund state of the Church, whose history is denied by most Europeans, denounced by others, and despised by what passes for European thinkers. A day approaches when asked to define a European, one will have no individual who demonstrates the reality, no nationality that embodies its characteristics, and no belief that it ever existed. Soon, no one will know what Europe is, least of all the Europeans.
America is not far behind on this road to nowhere. Political elements within this country are conspiring to bring the Balkans to the Midwest. Whether by language, by customs, or by skin color, Americans are being cajoled, legislated, and seduced into believing that to be an American can mean an infinitude of things. The definition of America being offered derides, denies, and defies definition.
So long as one thing, one thought, does not inform a people of its identity, that people is no people. Europe grew from the unity of the Catholic Church. When that unity was cast aside in the protestant revolt of the sixteenth century, Europe began to unravel. Petty feuds between feudal lords grew into kinstrife between competing creeds. Rivalry about material wealth was warped into oppression based on the material origins of mankind. A Faith that transcends all racial and ethnic distinctions was banished in favor of the modern pastime of ethnic cleansing.
America's founding was more synthetic, less organic. It is hard to put one's finger on exactly what makes the pluribus unum. In fact, the loyalists of the Revolutionary War period, the Confederacy in the War Between the States, the conscientious objectors from both World Wars, and the protesters against the Vietnam War give stark expression to the fact that there has been plenty of pluribus in our history. One would be harder pressed to show where the abiding unum that is supposedly America subsists.
That America explicitly abstained from a creedal confession at its founding is the true source of the problem. The contemporary mania for separating the state from the Church to the point of persecuting the faithful is the fruit of the Founders' original reticence. Many would say that the Constitution never intended that freedom of religion would become freedom from religion. Neither the framers nor the adherents to that position understand the law of unintended consequences, well described in the ancient saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." It strains credulity to attempt to embrace the idea that the Constitution's explicit rejection of the true Faith and the true Church has a source in Heaven.
And what is more, it is absurd to believe that the masonic notion of separation of the state from the Church advanced by the freemasons at the Constitutional Convention was conceived as a means to advance the claims of Christ the King. It was masons who concocted the idea of a Godless state, masons who expunged God from the American Constitution, and masons who have influenced modern political structures from Philadelphia in 1776 to Paris in 1789 to Moscow in 1917 to the founding of the United Nations at San Francisco in 1948. It is only either willful blindness or ineptitude that would fail to see that masonic philosophy embodied in masonic documents crafted by masons would result in an entity entirely at odds with the will of God.
At some point Americans will need to come to terms with the fact that, as a nation, we began where Europe has ended, with a denial of God. Those who are not for Him are against Him. The American Constitution, in a pre-echo of post-modern European rebellion, gives God no place in the fabric of the national soul. At best He is ignored, but more often He is insulted. Such an attitude toward the greatest of all beings does not bode well for the treatment that can be expected toward the greatest of all created beings. Where God is disdained, one can have no hope that His creature will be reverenced.
Our current state was not the matter of a deliberate revolution occurring rapidly. We are the result of two-and-a-quarter centuries of inattention to the natural law, our Mother the Church, and God Our Father. Independence Day is an annual and brutal irony. Yes, we are independent of Great Britain, but we are enslaved to a violent government, a consumerist economy, and sinful passions.
Perhaps the freemasons are not wholly to blame, but one can be forgiven his profound doubts that they are displeased. Dr. Woods' analysis is perceptive, but his conclusion is wrong. The Godless revolution of the French does have a common pedigree with the Godless Constitution of the United States of America: apostasy from Christ and His Body the Catholic Church.