Originally Published: August 3, 2000 7:15 p.m.
Since the early part of the last century, an unending stream of "pundits" have been trying to get us to trade in our Republic for a democracy.
They have been using statements such as the one Jerry Jackson quoted: "A democracy believes in God and a republic doesn't," to try to persuade us that a democracy is the better of the two.
Neither the quote nor the underlying idea it promotes (the superiority of a democracy over a republic) stand as accurate under even the most cursory scrutiny.
As long as people referred to our government as a republic, God was an integral part of their lives. They knew the Constitution's Bill of Rights was in fact God-given and not bestowed by government. They accepted a responsibility to a higher authority; a power greater than themselves. It influenced the framers (of the Constitution) no less as they sought to carve out a government from the lessons of history.
At the 1787 Constitutional Convention Ben Franklin said, "We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings that 'except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."
The more people convince us that we live in a democracy, the less of God we can acknowledge in our public lives. People are trying to separate church and state with more zeal today than when the framers created the First Amendment.
The part of the First Amendment everyone refers to says this, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Until the re-education of the public to believe that the framers gave us a democracy, that portion of the First Amendment seemed to acknowledge the fact that this was a deeply religious nation and that its people had the God-given right to exercise their religion without being required to accept what the government sanctioned as religious practice, such as they had experienced in England and much of the rest of Europe at one time or other.
Now it seems to prohibit the public endorsement of even the idea of a Supreme Being in public places. How is that done without laws prohibiting the free exercise thereof?
Religion provides the underpinning for a moral standard which is eroding so rapidly today that you can almost hear the sound of the vacuum it is leaving behind. I would submit that to publicly post the Ten Commandments or "In God We Trust," or "With God All Things Are Possible" is not a public expression of religion as much as an acknowledgment and reminder of a higher authority to whom we are answerable and as such, helps to provide a moral compass for our actions.
I likewise would submit that arguments against these public displays are less about free expression of religion for all without government sanction than it is about removing these vestiges of restraint, conscience and consequence. At the same time, the more people promote the theory of separation of church and state, the more reference there is to democracy. Coincidence? Faustian trade is more like it.
Historically, no republic has survived its abandonment of its higher authority or it's transformation into a democracy.
In the garden of good and evil, where the republic grows, is a weed which looks so much like the republic that we seldom pull it out before it overtakes and kills the republic. That weed is democracy. The weed that destroys democracy is anarchy. The weed that destroys anarchy is totalitarianism.
In the end, the only ones democracy serves are the power elite who wait in the wings to "rescue" us from ourselves. (Look around if you are in doubt. The evidence is everywhere.) Samuel Adams warned, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide."
The framers were adamant that the government they were creating was not a democracy. They were also as adamant that God was an integral part of the process. Therefore, it follows that the quote that I referred to in the first paragraph cannot be correct. Thankfully so. May I join Thom Strawn in declaring "God save the Republic." We can't save it otherwise.
(Jim Mitchell, a Bagdad resident, is a member of the John Birch Society.)