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Cockeyed Conclusions About Connecticut

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In the wake of the horrifying rampage in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults shot to death, reactions from the anti-Christian media and liberal politicians are exactly what you would expect: “We’ve got to get rid of the guns!” Never mind the fact that murder goes back to the beginning of the human race when Cain killed his brother—without a gun. Guns have been around only a few hundred years; people have been killing each other for thousands of years. You do the math. If there were no guns—clubs, rocks, and sharpened sticks would do the job. Building a bomb or setting the school on fire would accomplish the same or worse. Shall we outlaw rocks, sticks, matches, and fertilizer?

Legion are the emotional, irrational explanations that have inundated the Web: “Adam Lanza and his mother both spent time at an area gun range” (Thomas, 2012); “Technology has rendered the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution obsolete” (“Adam Lanza’s…,” 2012); “New York mayor demands action on gun control” (“Connecticut…New York…,” 2012)”; “Connecticut Governor calls for a federal framework for gun control laws” (“Connecticut…State’s…,” 2012).“Time to get rid of the guns!” (Mackey, 2012); “The gunman had hundreds of rounds of ammunition!” (“Connecticut…Gunman…,” 2012); “The mother and father are Republicans” (Swain and Sanchez, 2012). Even the National Rifle Association missed the point when it announced, “The N.R.A. is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again” (“NRA News Release…,” 2012). As if money can fix morality.

Interestingly, regarding the propriety of citizens having free access to guns, prominent Founder Thomas Jefferson approvingly quoted (1926, p. 314) from the celebrated Italian jurist, philosopher, and politician, Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 treatise, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, words which are hauntingly prophetic of our present predicament:

Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794)

The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons (1983, p. 91, emp. added).

Yet, as American society’s Christian moorings continue to erode, and immoral human behavior rapidly replaces traditional American values, the left continues to trot out their insane assessments and godless “solutions”—completely missing the only explanation and the only solution. If only Americans would take the time to reread their Bibles and go back to the Founding Fathers to see the clear and unmistakable explanation for our predicament. This is not rocket science. It is not that difficult to see with clarity what is happening.

The Central Issue and Solution

The fact is that the Creator of the human race is the sole Author and Source of objective morality. Otherwise, moral distinctions would simply be the product of the subjective whims of humans. Morality would thus legitimately vary from person to person and country to country. One society might decide to legalize pedophilia while another might make it illegal—and both would be “right” in the sense that each person would be free to formulate his own moral standards. The result would be complete and utter social anarchy in which every person would be equally free to believe and behave however he or she chooses. Sound like America? What has happened? How can such profound change come over an entire civilization?The Founders of the American Republic anticipated just this social scenario—and even described the circumstances under which it would occur. The Founders predicted that if Americans do not retain an ardent commitment to the moral principles of Christianity, civil society will wane.

Consider the following prophetic voices. In the 1811 New York State Supreme Court case of The People v. Ruggles, the “Father of American Jurisprudence,” James Kent, explained the importance of punishing unchristian behavior, when he wrote that Americans are a “people whose manners are refined, and whose morals have been elevated and inspired with a more enlarged benevolence, by means of the Christian religion” (1811, emp. added). The gentility of the American spirit has historically been contrasted with those peoples “whose sense of shame would not be affected by what we should consider the most audacious outrages upon decorum” (1811, emp. added).

The Founders understood that the Bible presents the only logical and sane assessment of reality: an objective standard, authored by the Creator, which exists for the entire human race—what Thomas Jefferson identified as “one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively” (1789). That standard resides within the confines of the Christian religion as articulated in the New Testament. Unless human civilization gauges its moral behavior according to that objective, absolute framework, moral and spiritual chaos in society will be the end result—even if all the guns in the world were dumped into the ocean. In the words of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they, therefore, who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments” (as quoted in Steiner, 1907, p. 475, emp. added).

Yet, for some 50 years now, Americans have been pummeled with the humanistic notion that morality can be maintained in society to the exclusion of Christianity. With almost prophetic anticipation, the very first president of the United States—the Father of our country—anticipated and addressed this sinister misnomer. After serving his country for two terms as president, George Washington delivered his farewell address to the nation, articulating forcefully the key to achieving security and protection for our lives:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? (1796, pp. 22-23, emp. added).

Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush stated: “[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments” (1806, p. 8, emp. added). Dr. Rush further stated:

We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism (pp. 112-113, emp. added).

Dr. Rush also insisted:

I wish to be excused for repeating here, that if the Bible did not convey a single direction for the attainment of future happiness, it should be read in our schools in preference to all other books, from, its containing the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public temporal happiness.... By withholding the knowledge of this [Christian] doctrine from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds (pp. 100,105, emp. and bracketed item added).

Over the past 50 years or so, the liberal establishment has convinced society that evil actions are merely the result of “disturbed,” “mentally ill,” and “genetically predisposed” people who are not, in the final analysis, responsible for their behavior. But both the Bible and the Founders insisted that a failure to fill one’s mind and thoughts with pure, righteous, virtuous concepts found in the Bible inevitably leads to a confused mind, a reckless lifestyle, and harm to society. In his scathing repudiation of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, Continental Congress president Elias Boudinot insisted: “[O]ur country should be preserved from the dreadful evil of becoming enemies to the religion of the Gospel, which I have no doubt, but would be introductive of the dissolution of government and the bonds of civil society” (1801, p. xxii, emp. added). Dr. Benjamin Rush added his blunt observation: “Without the restraints of religion and social worship, men become savages” (1951, 1:505, emp. added). Noah Webster stated: “[R]eligion has an excellent effect in repressing vices [and] in softening the manners of men” (1794, Vol. 2, Ch. 44, emp. added).

The Founders believed that, should Christian principles be jettisoned by Americans, manners would be corrupted, and social anarchy and the fall of the Republic would naturally follow. Declaration signer and “The Father of the American Revolution,” Samuel Adams, issued a solemn warning in a letter to James Warren on February 12, 1779: “A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy” (1908, 4:124). In his inaugural address as the Governor of Massachusetts in 1780, Founder John Hancock insisted that both our freedom and our very existence as a Republic will be determined by public attachment to Christian morality: “Manners, by which not only the freedom, but the very existence of the republics, are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion and the good education of youth” (as quoted in Brown, 1898, p. 269, emp. added). The words of Declaration signer John Witherspoon are frightening: “Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction” (1802, 3:41, emp. added). In contrasting the general religion of Christianity with Islam, John Quincy Adams likewise explained:

The fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion, is the extirpation of hatred from the human heart. It forbids the exercise of it, even towards enemies. There is no denomination of Christians, which denies or misunderstands this doctrine. All understand it alike—all acknowledge its obligations; and however imperfectly, in the purposes of Divine Providence, its efficacy has been shown in the practice of Christians, it has not been wholly inoperative upon them. Its effect has been upon the manners of nations. It has mitigated the horrors of war—it has softened the features of slavery—it has humanized the intercourse of social life (1830, p. 300, emp. added).

We are a blind and hard-hearted people if we refuse to recognize the truth and validity of these observations. Fixating on guns, and other peripheral issues, sidesteps the eternal reality that when a society is organized and geared to respect God and His Word, aberrant behavior will still occur, but it will be far more infrequent that what America is now experiencing. Though mocked, ridiculed, and hotly denied, the truth remains that Connecticut, Columbine, and a host of other tragic occurrences America is experiencing, are the result of banishing God from our schools, our government, and our civic institutions. It is the natural result of teaching three generations of Americans that they owe their ultimate origin to rocks, slime, and soup which produced them over millions of years. It is the result of over half of Americans no longer attending church. It is the inevitable result of demeaning the Bible in universities and the corresponding loss of respect for inspired writ as seen in the failure of most Americans to read and study it. As the ancient prophet Hosea, in quoting God, forcefully declared many millennia ago concerning another nation: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you.... Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame” (4:6-7, emp. added).

A good summary of the attitude of the Founders regarding the key to a tranquil, nonviolent society is seen in an “election sermon” preached by Chandler Robbins before the joint assembly of government officials of Massachusetts on May 25, 1791 which included the Governor, John Hancock (the first to sign the Declaration of Independence), the Lieutenant-Governor, Samuel Adams (the “Father of the American Revolution”), and both houses of the state government. Robbins articulated the widespread sentiments of his fellow citizens that now, more than two centuries later, sound haunting and eerily prophetic:

Our advantages for happiness as a people are great, almost beyond a parallel, bounteous Heaven has, with liberal profusion, poured his blessings upon our land, has given us a name and distinction among the kingdoms of the earth, we are spread over a great continent, so that…“we make a WORLD within ourselves…. We enjoy the divine WORD—are favored with the glorious privilege of the GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Indeed, there seems to be nothing wanting, to complete our character and our happiness as a community, but the spirit and practice of real religion. The want of this, it must be acknowledged, has the most threatening aspect upon our nation. The diffusive and rapid progress of declared infidelity and deism, of licentiousness and skepticism, the disregard of divine institutions, the practical contempt of the gospel of our Salvation, the awful dishonor, which, with unblushing confidence, many have openly cast upon the ETERNAL SON OF GOD, whom we are commanded to “honor as we honor the FATHER,” because he is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” In fine, the torrent of immorality, profaneness and impiety, which daily increased among us, exhibit but a sad presage, if persisted in, of impending miseries on our land. It is, in the nature of things, impossible it should eventually go well with a people of the above description, and who remain impenitent and unreformed…. It is manifest therefore, that righteousness alone can truly exalt our nation—that RELIGION is the only basis, on which true happiness can be founded, either in communities or individuals. Let this then, be the object of universal concern (pp. 5-51, italics and caps in orig., emp. added).

A sizeable percentage of our politicians and citizens don’t get it. Yet the truth is so simple and plain, echoed in Robbins’ allusion to Proverbs 14:34—“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Mark it down: as more and more Americans lose their connection to the nation’s spiritual and moral roots—the Christian religion—the more our nation will be plunged into the nightmarish onslaught of events like the one which occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.

CONCLUSION

It is fully to be expected—it is absolutely inevitable—that as society expels God and Christianity, civility and morality among the people decreases. As people abandon Christian morality, more laws must be made to restrain their evil deeds. As more laws are made to restrain a lawless people, the less freedom those people enjoy. I repeat: Morality and religion are absolutely necessary to achieve and retain freedom. Once Americans abandon the Christian moral framework, they will inevitably clamor for more prisons, more security forces, more screening devices, and yes, fewer guns. But these “solutions” are merely temporary band aids that will not fix the problem and, in actuality, create more problems. The truth is that only two options lie before us, pinpointed in the 1840s by the Speaker of the U.S. House, Robert Winthrop: “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet” (1852, p. 172, emp. added). Observe: Americans have banned the Bible from the public square and have opted for the bayonet—more government control and fewer freedoms.

What was going on in that child’s life that would enable him to so conduct himself? Not the existence of guns! The Left does not want to go to the root of the problem—because their very philosophy and belief system has already dismissed God and Christian morality as irrelevant, if not harmful. They recoil at the thought of promoting self-restraint and strict Christian morality. Hence, to them, the problem must lie elsewhere. (Although, they are perfectly happy to blame God for the killings.) But this 20-year-old boy was not born with the propensity to kill children. Even his suspected autism is not responsible for the violence. His attitude and behavior was developed and nurtured during his formative years. His training, experiences, and personal choices made him who he became. Not his genes, not the presence of guns in the world, not visits to the gun range, and certainly not the existence of “Bible-thumping, right wing radical Christians.” The Bible plainly teaches that a stable home environment, with both biological parents present nurturing their children in the principles of Christianity, are the most effective aids to producing successful, productive, law-abiding citizens. The Founders wholeheartedly affirmed this approach to life and realized that the societal environment most conducive to producing stable citizens and a happy country is one that is based on and rooted in the moral principles of the Bible. Yet this boy’s personal life very likely possessed features that contributed to his degeneration to a “debased mind” (Romans 1:28), even enabling him to kill his own mother by shooting her in the face (Swain and Sanchez, 2012). This was a troubled child, to say the least. His troubled condition did not arise from the presence of guns. Until America faces the reality of what creates the increasing numbers of troubled children, society will continue to reap the consequences.

REFERENCES

“Adam Lanza’s Weapons” (2012), New York Post, December 18, http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/adam_lanza_weapons_NU2tb0tIf9hNsOCZkPJ1XP.

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Jefferson, Thomas (1789), “Letter to James Madison,” The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes, ed. Paul Leicester Ford, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mtj:@field(DOCID+@lit (tj050135)).

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The People v. Ruggles(1811), 8 Johns 290 (Sup. Ct. NY.), N.Y. Lexis 124.

Robbins, Chandler (1791), A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency John Hancock, Esq., Governour, His Honor Samuel Adams, Esq., Lieutenant-Governour, the Honourable the Council, and the Honourable the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 25, 1791 Being the Day of General Election (Boston, MA: Thomas Adams), http://openlibrary.org/works/OL1743074W /A_sermon_preached_before_His_Excellency_Jonh_sic_Hancock_Esq. _governour_His_Honor_Samuel_Adams_Esq._.

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Swain, Jon, and Raf Sanchez (2012), “Connecticut School Shooting: Adam Lanza Was Assigned Psychologist,” The Telegraph, December 17, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/ usa/9750422/Connecticut-school-shooting-Adam-Lanza-was-assigned- psychologist.html.

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