Is It Right to Have Rights?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 21, 2020 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Ministry Note: While some reading this will think this post is political in nature, please be aware that it is not meant to be political at all. The intent of this post is to help encourage and equip the reader on the founding principles of our nation, faith in Jesus Christ, and why this matters so much.

These are tough times for us all. As restrictions are being lifted by our executive officials, we are still under stress and pressures that, for most of us, are unwarranted. Within the United States, there are a variety of reactions from states like South Dakota all the way to states like Michigan. Freedom is a wonderful thing, and the liberties we have in the U.S. are paralleled by no other nation on the earth. We are unique and have been since our inception. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about that extensively. I encourage you to read his findings or to take courses on the founding of the U.S. and its constitution. You can find free courses for that at Hillsdale College. They’re very good and go into a great deal of depth in terms of the Federalist Papers and other writings by the Founders as well as personal correspondence and speeches so we can understand the true intent and meaning behind the official U.S. documents that founded us as a nation.

So what rights, in my humble opinion, are currently being threatened or violated? I’ll look at them in numerical order to begin with.

The First Amendment doesn’t give us the right to free speech/press, practice our faith, or assemble but explains what are rights are. They’re not from a piece of paper but expressed by this document. The rights outlined in the Bill of Rights are expressed in our society but not granted by government. They’re granted by God Almighty so the government cannot take them away. So we, according to the First Amendment, have the right to free speech/press. This is being squashed not so much by the government (at least not yet or directly) but by social media platforms, YouTube, Google, and the like. They are silencing those who, according to YouTube, do not agree with the “authoritative truth.” If that term doesn’t scare you, I’m not sure you’re awake. That is concerning for a variety of reasons, but let’s move on. We are being told that we cannot practice our faith as we see fit; this is clearly a direct violation of our rights. To be sure, many (most, really) religious organizations have complied with little to no complaining, but telling people they cannot meet for church, mass, or at the mosque is a direct violation of this basic human right. The right to assemble is, again, another clearly stricken right. First it was groups under 50. Then it was groups under 10. Then it was just “stay at home” so you can’t meet with anyone (unless you need liquor or even an abortion). The right to assemble is a basic God given right that we all have in this nation, and the government cannot take from us lawfully. Yet, here we are. We have the right to gather and, dare I say, at whatever proximity we choose.

Then we have the Fourth and Fifth Amendments which tell us we, as human beings, are protected from unlawful search and seizure and deserve due process of the law. Have you heard of anyone being stopped by police and being asked why they’re outside or on the road? Have you seen or heard of anyone being arrested for going to work, playing catch in the park, surfing, or kayaking? I know I have. This is a violation of our right to due process and unreasonable search and seizure.

The Ninth Amendment makes it clear that not all of our rights are outlined in the governing documents of the U.S. Just because it’s not in the Constitution doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a right. We have the right to work. We have the right to go outside. We have the right to travel. These are all basic human rights that, until recently, no one would even question are actually rights.

Next to the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment is probably the biggest violation here in my opinion. This amendment states: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” We have, according to this amendment, the right to life, liberty, and property. No person shall be told they cannot work if they are a U.S. citizen. We are a free people and we have equal protection under the law. How does that work if some are considered “essential” and others are not? “You can go to work, but you over here need to stay home.” This is not right. Every person is essential, and every person’s job is essential in some way or another. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be a job. Telling someone that they cannot go to work or that they have to stay in their home is a clear violation of this God given right.

Have you heard of some states actually stationing officers outside the home of someone who is suspected to have COVID-19? I have. Have you heard of states using ankle monitors to track people who have been ordered to stay at home to make sure they do? I have. Have you seen on television that people are being fined or jailed even because they went to work? I have. Have you heard of governors who say things like, “If you behave, we can lift these orders” or other such things? I have. Have you heard radio commercials where a governor is heard saying, “If you are not an essential worker, you cannot leave your home”? I have. Being on the road in some states is a violation of “a law” put in place by elected or non-elected officials if you’ve not been deemed “essential” by the governing authorities. This is an obviously wrong way to function; if this isn’t a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, I don’t know what is.

Is it selfish to believe we have these God-given rights and that we should be free to exercise them? Of course not. Some have suggested that their right to life superseded the rights I’ve outlined above. This is not true at all and I’ll explain why. This person’s right to life, while it is the foundational right of all the others, is not infringed upon in any way by allowing someone else (or everyone else, really) to exercise their rights. If you are one who feels your life would be threatened by leaving your home, going to work, or strolling through the park, please stay home. You are well within your rights to do so. But demanding we all stay home so you can stay alive isn’t American, it isn’t freedom, and it isn’t right.

To top this off, what evidence is there that everyone staying home will actually keep this person alive? There is none. How can we know this, anyway? There’s no way to determine that this person’s life was jeopardized by someone else’s decision to live their life. Sure, if someone with COVID-19 sneezed on them or licked their car door handle, that could potentially be something. But otherwise, there is no way to know for certain that anything someone did put them at risk—especially if that means someone just went outside their house, saw a movie, or ate at a restaurant. This person’s right to life, by the way many of our authorities are presenting it, would mean no one should be allowed to drive since they could be killed in an accident. It means no one should be able to own a gun, since they could be harmed or killed either accidentally or intentionally. It would mean that restaurants should all close because someone might choke on a piece of food. There’s no way to defend their position unless there is a way to conclusively say that if everyone (except this person) leaves their home this person would lose their life. Obviously, this is not realistic.

The desire for people to be free to exercise their God-given rights is not selfish. Most people are happy to help out and protect those who are at risk. But it makes no sense at all to keep everyone at home while the at risk are the only ones at risk. They can stay home while the rest of the world gets along just fine. In my opinion, the American way is to say that each person should be able to decide what they want to do and experience the consequences for those choices. Freedom is being able to make choices. If you are at risk, take all the measures you need to in order to stay safe. If others are not at risk, they should be free to do as they like while respecting your right to stay home, shelter in place, etc.

Some may suggest that in an emergency, the government has the ability to suspend our God-given rights. This is not true, and if you feel this way, please understand that this line of thinking is a doorway to tyranny. If our rights can be suspended because the government deems it necessary, we never had those rights in the first place. But since the rights are God-given, they cannot be taken from someone else. The U.S. government cannot take our rights due to an emergency. To be clearer, the government cannot create powers for itself it did not previously have but can only expound on powers it already has. And if the president or, in most cases currently, a governor is taking actions that go against the will of the legislature, those actions are likely prohibited. This is why we have three separate but equal branches of government. Many legislatures are trying to take action against the executive branch because of overreach.

As a believer, my response has been one of submission, but this doesn’t mean we must keep our opinions to ourselves. Paul tells us in Romans 13 to submit to the authorities. Here in the States, under God, the people are the final authority, but we have officials that we’ve elected to govern. I believe, to keep peace and to set forth an example, it is right to do as our governor has asked. However, may there be a point at which I can say it is just to civilly disobey? How do we respond when his or her orders are too harsh or do not seem to have an end in sight? Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us to live as free people but in doing so, we are not to hide our evil deeds. I can’t see how living your life is an evil deed and I don’t understand why someone would feel they have the right to insist you live your life a certain way for their sake. This is especially true if your living life doesn’t interfere with or endanger their life and life choices. The amazing thing is this nation was founded by predominantly Christian men using Christian principles to govern a predominantly Christian people. That’s what these founding documents are based on. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the heart and soul of this Republic. He is truly the answer to all of our problems, and I mean that 100%.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.