The Origin of Rights

Too many people in America act and speak as if they believe rights, protected by the US Constitution, are granted by government, and therefore can be diminished or abolished by government decree. This assumption is not only wrong it is dangerous to the well being of every man, woman, and child in America, because if government is allowed to do this then no one’s life, liberty, or property is secure. Legally, this assumption does not have any precedent set in America’s founding documents and will not stand up in a court of law dedicated to biblical truth and justice.

The Declaration of Independence clearly defines the Creator as the origin of rights. Accordingly, the fact that rights come from the Creator is an indisputable established legal standard from the United States’ first founding document.

Although the Constitution is “the supreme Law of the Land”, the Declaration of Independence is also legally binding, because the Constitution not only dated itself from “the Year of our Lord,” but also from “the Independence of America”. By doing this the founders established two facts, the supreme Law of the Land is founded on and linked to the Declaration of Independence, which makes the Declaration a legal document, and that Christ is the Creator to which the Declaration of Independence referred.

The fact that our founders understood Christ to be the Creator is substantiated in a multitude of ways. The most convincing of these is the 1892 Supreme Court case Holy Trinity Church v The United States, in which the court unanimously declared “the United States is a Christian nation.” In making this statement, the court was not just saying there were many Christians living in America, but that our entire legal system and government was built on a Christian foundation and that it was intended to maintain America’s Christian character. Chief Justice Brewer’s own words attest to this understanding in the official opinion he passed down from the bench. His court based their findings on an in-depth and detailed survey conducted of a range of America’s documents and previous court cases, which, in addition to the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, included: the commission to Christopher Columbus,  the first colonial grant made to Sir Walter Raleigh, all other colonial charters, the Pilgrim’s Mayflower Compact, the 1638-1639 fundamental orders of Connecticut, the constitutions from each of the then existing States in 1892, and previous legal cases from the States and the Supreme Court. All totaled, the court referenced 87 precedents that confirmed America as a Christian nation in which many of the referenced documents openly professed the intent to propagate the Christian religion in America and the others upheld Christianity in some other way.

Because our founders understood Christ to be the Creator, it is from the Bible we must look to define our rights. Biblically, rights are derived from obligations we, as individuals, owe to God. For example: God commanded us not to commit murder, including suicide, which means God obligated us to uphold life and therefore we have a right to defend life including our own. God gave us ten fundamental laws, which were things we cannot do, and everything else we are at liberty to do, therefore we have a right to liberty. God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth, therefore we have a right to property. Other rights can be derived from the Bible by similar reasoning and it was to these rights, derived from biblical obligations, our founders referred in the 9th Amendment by the clause “others retained by the people.”

Rights are not absolute, but neither are they bounded by public opinion. If they were bounded by public opinion, then a majority of citizens could take them away, which is another way of saying they are no rights at all. Since God is the only entity that can grant rights, because governments and people are only able to grant privileges, it is only God who can take them away and it is He who sets their boundaries. This is why rights cannot be sold or transferred.

As such, people can only lose their rights through their personal behavior. For example: if an individual commits murder, then he or she has forfeited their right to life; if an individual commits fraud or theft, then he or she loses their right to property in an amount equivalent to their crime. Similarly, if an individual violates one of the other Ten Commandments then he or she loses liberty proportionate to their infraction.

It was under this understanding the founders wrote “that [all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” and they went on to say “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men.” For this reason every government in America (local, State, and national) should secure biblical rights and not attempt to take them away. Any government that tries to take away even one of an individual’s God granted rights without due process of common law is engaged in tyranny and in such an occasion, like the Declaration of Independence declares, it should be the government that is limited or abolished not an individual’s right.


7 thoughts on “The Origin of Rights

  1. D Lively says:

    “The Declaration of Independence clearly defines the Creator as the origin of rights. Accordingly, the fact that rights come from the Creator is an indisputable established legal standard from the United States’ first founding document.” This is so true. Many people overlook the fact that some of the founders consider the Declaration to be more important that the Constitution.

  2. D Lively says:

    “…and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth ” these words appear in the last paragraph of the Constitution but I have trouble believing “the Declaration of Independence is also legally binding, because the Constitution not only dated itself from ‘the Year of our Lord,’ but also from ‘the Independence of America.’” Nitpicking perhaps but I think it’s a stretch.

    American Founding Principles says:

    The Declaration of Independence is the charter establishing America and the Constitution contains the by-laws on how to govern it at the national level. As such, they are both legally binding, because you cannot have the Constitution without the charter that established the nation for which its laws apply. Evidence to this fact is that the constitutional delegates dated the Constitution from the Declaration of Independence.

  3. D Lively says:\

    “Rights are not absolute, but neither are they bounded by public opinion.” I don’t understand this. In the view of the Founders as stated in the Declaration “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” which means to me those rights are absolute.

    American Founding Principles says:

    Perhaps you are unaware ‘unalienable’ means that which cannot be sold or transferred to another, therefore it has nothing to do with being absolute.

    On the other hand, ‘absolute’ means, “Free from restriction or limitation; not limited in any way: absolute command, absolute freedom.” Given this definition it is hard for me to understand why anyone would think they have an unrestricted right to anything. A person’s behavior can put their rights in jeopardy, for example, if someone commits premeditated murder they have forfeited their right to life. If their right to life were absolute, then this would not be the case, so it only stands to reason rights have limitations prescribed by God.

  4. In reading the Declaration of Independence I see the founders appealed to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of their intention in the name and by the authority of the good people of the colonies. The the colonies were divided in three parts as to where their loyalty resided so a simple majority could not have been present to grant this authority. Question: How many people or what percentage of people did it take to grant this authority and if these conditions did not determine how the authority was granted what were the conditions?

  5. In answering your question I ask you to keep in mind we are a republic not a democracy and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence was not decided through a public referendum, so the total number of people who supported it was irrelevant to its adoption and as a result there is no way of accurately estimating it. The Colonies formed the Continental Congress in which each Colony sent multiple representatives. How each Colony selected their representatives was up to them, but it was through some democratic process. On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress voted unanimously for the Declaration of Independence; every Colony voted in the affirmative even though some delegates were against the measure.

    • My question is relative to the time the Declaration of Independence was created; we were not a republic at that time because we were under British rule. How did each of these signers believe they had legitimate authority to appeal to the Supreme Judge of the World in the name and by the authority of the good people of the colonies whose lives were put in danger by doing so? This is not a trivial question because 56 men first convened to represent all of the people of the colonies and their actions had tremendous consequences. Specifically who granted this legitimate authority for this rebellion?

      • Since it is the Creator is Who endows men with inalienable rights, He also grants authority to secure those rights by abolishing or revising government by way of God-fearing, virtuous citizens. It is not as if the authority depends on the form of government, whether a republic, a sheer democracy, a monarchy, or even a theocracy. As long as the form of government secures and protects the inalienable rights, one may appeal to it as having divine authority. At the time the Declaration was drafted and approved, the form of government [monarchy under King George] was encroaching on inalienable rights, not unlike what is happening in the United State in the present age as, for example, the government allows its citizens to take innocent lives without due process through the practice of abortion, or redistributes earned wealth to able-bodied sloths. The Creator’s line of authority extends first to fathers and mothers, and from there in corporate manner to good government. Obviously the current population is at odds with these principles, hence we witness a deterioration of civility from which we pray and endeavor to be spared, both for own sakes and for our neighbor’s sake.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s