Oct 12, 2015

A Lesson in God and Politics from the One Dollar Bill

By on Monday, October 12, 2015

 From Tom West:
Should government promote respect for God? Many today say that such support is dangerous to liberty, and an unconstitutional “establishment of religion.”
To see how far they are from the truth, consider the fact that America’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, contains four distinct references to God:
1) He is the author of the “laws of … God”;
2) He is the “Creator” who “endowed” us with our inalienable rights;
3) He is “the Supreme Judge of the world”; and
4) He is “Divine Providence.”
If today’s conventional wisdom were true, it would be unconstitutional to teach the Declaration of Independence in our schools as the truth.

It would also be unconstitutional to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school because it contains the offending words “under God.” Of course, that is exactly what one federal judge ruled in 2002. His ruling was perfectly consistent with the principles behind the past fifty years of Supreme Court decisions.
But the Supreme Court has been following principles taught to them by the academic elites, not the principles of the Constitution as they were understood by the Founders.
America is based on a separation between church and state. That means there must be no sect that is designated as the official religion of the country.
But America is not based on a separation of God from state. How could it be, when God is the source of the rights that government is bound to secure and protect?
Consider the Great Seal of the United States, approved without controversy in the founding era, and printed today on the dollar bill.
The theology of the Declaration of Independence is presented pictorially on the reverse of the Great Seal. …
In the earthly part, a pyramid rises toward the heavenly eye. In its 1782 law approving the Seal, Congress explains that “The pyramid signifies strength and duration.” On its base is the Roman number MDCCLXXVI (1776) – the date, as Congress remarks, of the Declaration of Independence.
The pyramid has thirteen rows of bricks – the thirteen original states. The pyramid is the United States, a solid structure of freedom, built on the foundation of the Declaration. It is unfinished because America is a work in progress. More states will be added later.
“In the zenith” above the unfinished pyramid, the 1782 law calls for “an eye in a triangle, surrounded with a glory.” This design and placement of God’s eye suggests that America is connected to the divine in three ways.
First, the eye keeps watch over America, protecting her from her enemies. Congress explains: “The eye over it and the motto allude to the many signal interventions of Providence in favor of the American cause.” The Declaration of Independence had expressed “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”
Second, the complete triangle enclosing God’s eye is a model for the incomplete or imperfect triangular shape of the pyramid below. The perfect divine shape symbolizes God’s perfection, which we know (in part) through our reason, which teaches us “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” These laws, in turn, guide the construction of the earthly pyramid.
That means America is a work in progress in a deeper sense than its number of states. No matter how many rows of bricks (new states) are added to the pyramid, America must always look to the Supreme Being as, and at, her “zenith,” to be true to what she is and aspires to be. …
Third, the all-seeing eye is not only America’s protector and ruling guide. God is also her judge. This is implied by the motto annuit coeptis, “He approves of what has been started.”
The motto implies that God will no longer approve if America strays too far from the right path. …
In sum, the Great Seal teaches us that America is a nation “under God” in three ways: God protects America; God perfects and rules America; and God judges America.

The Seal has two Latin mottoes, one for the heavenly and one for the earthly part. The mottoes are taken from the great Roman poet Virgil.
The pyramid is labeled novus ordo seclorum, “a new order of the ages.” Congress explains, “the words under it signify the beginning of the New American Era, which commences from that date,” namely, 1776.” The phrase is a variant of a line in Virgil’s fourth Eclogue; this poem describes the return of the golden age, an age of peace and plenty.
“Over the eye,” says the 1782 law, “these words, annuit coeptis,” literally, “he has nodded [or nods] in assent to the things that have been started.” In Virgil’s great epic poem, the Aeneid, Aeneas’s son uses those words in a prayer. Jupiter hears the prayer; the son shoots, and his arrow pierces the enemy’s head. Aeneas’s small band of warriors will eventually become Rome, the greatest empire in world history—so far.

The two mottoes point to the founding of Rome in the remote past (the Aeneid) and the Golden Age of the future (Eclogue 4). Taken together, they suggest that America, with divine approval and support, will become a New Rome, combining the glory of the old Rome with the freedom, prosperity, and peace of the Golden Age. America’s foundation, like Rome’s, had to be laid in violence. But unlike Rome, the new order, if it is true to its God and its principles, will not grow to greatness through warfare and conquest, but through the arts of peace.
The Great Seal shows us that Founders’ view of religious liberty does not prohibit, but actually encourages, government promotion of religion – as long as the religious teaching that is promoted supports “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Those laws are the foundation of the rational liberty that is the essence of America’s greatness.


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