Tag archives: Fourth of July

This Year, It Is More Important Than Ever to Celebrate Our Independence

by Damon Sidur

July 6, 2021

Independence Day has been celebrated in our nation for nearly 250 years, but this year’s celebration should feel different from years past. While many are hopeful about a post-pandemic future, we should think about how many of us saw our liberties seriously challenged by the government over the past year.

Like in Nevada, where the U.S. Supreme Court denied Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley’s request to strike down the state’s unconstitutional 50-person cap on church services in July 2020. Nevada enforced this cap on houses of worship even as it allowed casinos and other types of businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity. Justice Gorsuch said in his dissent of the Nevada ruling, “The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesar’s Palace over Calvary Chapel.”

Thankfully, the courts have more recently begun siding with churches that were unfairly singled out by state and local mandates. In November 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the state of New York could not unfairly target and restrict church gatherings. While these positive court rulings should inspire hope for the future of religious liberty in America, the jurisprudence and the actions taken by government authorities throughout this past year should still be on our minds as we celebrate America’s independence.

We should consider how much of our freedom we are willing to give away in exchange for the government’s promise of protection. Benjamin Franklin’s answer to that question was: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This pandemic provided an opening for state and local governments to challenge our freedoms—most significantly our freedom of worship and assembly—in unprecedented ways. In California, churches were asked to submit to stringent restrictions that stated, “Places of worship must, therefore, discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.” Although the government does have a role during these times, as the Supreme Court stated in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Andrew Cuomo, “Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”

Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in 1998, “It is neither desirable nor is it remotely likely that civil liberty will occupy as favored a position in wartime as it does in peacetime…the laws will thus not be silent in time of war, but they will speak with a somewhat different voice.” However, the entire point of natural rights is that they are universal and objective. Violating them does not become any more justifiable in times of crisis.

When the pandemic began, Americans were initially encouraged to quarantine for two weeks to slow the spread. Most churches and businesses voluntarily closed their doors and accepted what they believed would be a temporary shutdown. Instead, even once houses of worship could safely reopen with COVID precautions in place, churches spent much of last year appealing to courts for relief from unequal treatment and unconstitutional restrictions on worship. Thankfully, the courts eventually sided with churches and agreed that First Amendment protections cannot be violated in the name of public health and safety, nor can churches be treated more severely than secular businesses.

Independence Day should be more than a day off from work to set off fireworks and eat apple pie. This year, in particular, should be a day of reflection for all of us as we acknowledge and give thanks for the blessing of living in the greatest and freest country in the world. If we want it to stay that way, we must take a stand in the face of fear and protect the rights granted to us by God, fought for in 1776, enshrined in our Bill of Rights, and through our history, finally fulfilled for all Americans.

Damon Sidur is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

This Independence Day, Let’s Recommit to Embracing Virtue

by Mary Szoch

July 2, 2021

As we approach Independence Day, it is worth reflecting on our Founding Fathers—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Jay, and many other fearless patriots. These brave men boldly set out to form a great nation—one committed to the truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Miraculously, these men succeeded. Though not a perfect nation by any stretch, historically, America has been a source of source of strength for nations under attack—as the troops were on the beaches of Normandy; a beacon of hope for the those who wish to be free—as President Reagan was as he demanded the dismantling of the Berlin Wall; and a land of limitless opportunity—as Clarence Thomas discovered on his journey from extreme poverty to the highest court in the land. 

Yet, today in America, the unalienable rights of life and liberty are under attack in the name of what some consider “the pursuit of happiness.”

America is led by a president who continuously attacks the unborn child’s right to life and has promised to codify Roe, which would enshrine abortion on demand through 40 weeks as the law of the land. In the name of public health, this past year, religious freedom was trampled, and churches were forced to limit attendance even at Christmas. Free speech has been limited in schools and on university campuses. Biological realities have been denied and males are playing women’s sports and using women’s bathrooms. Teachers who are morally opposed to doing so are being forced to call students by biologically incorrect pronouns. And the federal government is considering completely abandoning any regard for human life by removing the limitations on human-animal chimeras

America’s transformation into a nation our Founding Fathers would barely recognize has been accompanied by a decline in the religiosity of Americans. As the number of Americans identifying as Protestant and Catholic have sharply declined, the number identifying as religiously unaffiliated, as “nones,” has grown by about 20 percent from 1990 to 2019

Our nation, a nation for which the Founding Fathers sacrificed and died, a nation that was meant to be the land of the free and home of the brave, has become the land of the “woke” and the home of the godless.  

The resulting loss of freedom and constant attacks on the rights Americans have always held so dear would not shock John Adams, who so wisely commented, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Or Samuel Adams, who concluded, “It is not possible that any State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored.” Or George Washington, who in his farewell address warned, “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

Though our Founding Fathers were not all Christians, all had a profound understanding of the essential nature of a moral code, of virtue, and of belief in a Supreme Being whose natural laws must be followed. Over the last several years, our country has lost this understanding, but if our nation truly wishes to be great—to be the land our Founding Fathers dreamed of—we as Americans must once again embrace virtue.

Is it the Fourth?

by Robert Morrison

July 4, 2012

I recall finishing David McCulloughs excellent John Adams onJuly 4, 2001. A great thunderstorm broke overAnnapolis that afternoon. The violent wind and rain, thunder and lightning were the perfect accompaniment to the storm that attended the greatAdamss departure, July 4, 1826.

In a powerful coda to his life, he died on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. No one did more to bring about American Independence that this blunt-spoken man fromMassachusetts. Lawyer, patriot, Member of Congress, and diplomat, John Adams was born to lead and men naturally turned to him, even when they didnt especially like him. Men generally respect hard work and no one worked harder than John Adams. In the Continental Congress, he served on scores of committees, including the essential committee that dealt with the Army and the Navy. (Today, those who say the repeal of the misnamed Dont ask/Dont tell policy overturned the law Bill Clinton signed in 1993 are wrong. The ban actually dates from John Adamss rules for the Army and Navy, written in 1775. Adamss ban was older than the country.)

John Adams was such a selfless fighter for Independencethat he nominated Col. George Washington to be Commander-in-Chief of the Army, thereby putting off a key Massachusetts ally, John Hancock. As President of Congress, Hancock coveted the command for himself. But Hancock joined the other delegates in electing Washington unanimously. Adams also selected the tall, lanky young Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, to draft the Declaration of Independence. His reasoning, as he later recorded it, was typical of bluff, honest John Adams:

  1. That [Jefferson] was a Virginian and I a Massachusettensian. 2. That he was a southern Man and I a northern one. 3. That I had become so obnoxious for my early and constant Zeal in promoting [Independence] that any [draft] of mine would undergo more severe Scrutiny and Criticism in Congress than one of his composition. 4thly and lastly that would be reason enough if there were no other, I had a great Opinion of the Elegance of his pen and none at all of my own….

How can we not love this man? There, he shows us his candid heart. He proves to us that he has no elegance in his pen. Massachusettensian? Good grief! Thank you, John, for tapping Mr. Jefferson for this historic task.

John Adams a diplomat? He was a disaster in Paris. The French foreign minister, the Comte de Vergennes, couldnt stand the man. Adams worked through the nights as Benjamin Franklin partied. The aged sage engaged in witty repartee with Frances leading philosophes (and in naughty badinage with some of Paris leading ladies). It reflects badly on blunt John that he became resentful of the great Dr. Franklin. Franklin, in turn, parried John Adamss complaints to Congress. He deemed his younger New England compatriot a good man, a wise man, in all an honest man. He generously conceded Adamss patriotism. But in some things in some ways, absolutely out of his mind.

Fortunately for us, Adams was driven from France to Holland. There, he negotiated a wonderful treaty with the Dutch that provided what we would today call a bridge loan, a vitally needed one. It was doubtless a great achievement. But when Adams wrote to Congress claiming to be the Washington of diplomacy, the delegates all laughed heartily at his expense.

When David McCullough gave a presentation on his book here at the National Press Club, I pressed him on Adams and the Titles Crisis. As the first Vice President of the United States, John Adams took up a full six weeks of the time of the first Senate meeting in New York with long and wearisome lectures on the importance of giving highfalutin titles to our elected officials. Adams wanted Washington to have the title His High Mightiness, President of the United States and Protector of their Liberties. George Washington wanted no such thing. And for advocating it, Adams made himself look ridiculous. Jefferson was appalled. His old revolutionary colleague must have become deranged during his years as our minister to Great Britain. Behind his back, Adams got a title he didnt want: His Rotundity.

McCullough smoothly and wittily waved me away. Well, you know, Adams was a flinty New Englander. He knew everyone wants to be noticed. And he figured titles were a cheap way of giving politicians distinction. The urbane McCullough brushed off my question and got a good laugh doing so.

But it points out the problem with Honest John. Today, everyone quotes the Founders. And we should. The Federalist Papers are cited daily (most recently in the dissents from John Roberts egregious decision in NFIB v. Sebelius). Nobody cites John Adamss Discourses on Davila. In those long, turgid commentaries, Adams gives vent to his suspicions of the people.

While we hail John Adamss 1780 Massachusetts Constitutionand we shouldwe must note that it has a radical defect: the people of the Bay State cannot amend that splendid document without getting permission from state legislators. And that is the reason weve never had a referendum on true marriage in Massachusetts!

Having said all this, why still honor Adams? Because he was the Colossus of Independence. He worked without ceasing for the freedom of our country. He and his cousin Samuel were shrewd enough to maneuver around the anti-Independence Pennsylvania delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Their Massachusetts machine even reached out to German-speaking Pennsylvania farmers with Der Alarm, a newsletter pushing for election of a pro-Independence slate of delegates. Without their constant labors within Congress and without, its doubtful all of Jeffersons fine words and Washingtons noble sacrifices would have achieved the political result of Independence.

When a delegation approached the 90-year old Adamsfor a blessing and a quote on the eve of that 50th Anniversary Independence Day, the great patriot could only croak: Independence Forever!

Its all he had to say. On that Glorious Fourth, the last day of his life, Adams said: Thomas Jefferson still survives. Four hundred miles away, Thomas Jefferson at 83 also lay dying. He had asked his family Is it the Fourth? When told it was, he gave up the ghost.

When these two great Founders died on the same day, there was of course no Breaking News to flash the word instantly. It took some weeks before the whole nation knew. Modern historians are inclined to say that some Americans at that time saw the hand of Providence in the deaths of the two great Founders on the Nations Fiftieth Birthday. Yes, and some of us still do.