AG Bill Barr: Religious Freedom ‘Indispensable to Sustaining Free System of Government’

U.S. Attorney General William Barr observed America’s Framers believed in religious freedom “not just as a nod in the direction of piety,” but as “indispensable to sustaining a free system of government.”
In an address Friday to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, Barr, a Catholic, reflected on the importance of religious liberty in America, and how the Framers fashioned the Constitution expressly for a time such as the 21st century, when a cultural firestorm has gripped the nation.

The attorney general contrasted America’s great challenge today with one it faced in the 20th century:

There had always been the question whether a democracy so solicitous of individual freedom could stand up against a regimented totalitarian state.

That question was answered with a resounding “yes” as the United States stood up against and defeated, first fascism, and then communism.

But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge.

The challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never thought the main danger to the republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

Barr explained “the classical Christian tradition” served as the inspiration for the Founding generation. The Framers knew humankind was capable of both great good and great evil.

He said they also knew that, if they were to create a system of powerful and coercive central government, the result would be “tyranny.” In contrast, without any restraint, “you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good.”

“This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles,” he said.

Barr said the Founders essentially took “a gamble”:

They called it a great experiment.

They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

Barr explained the source of the internal control in a free republic such as America must be within the people themselves, “freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values.”

“And to control willful human beings, with and infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being,” the attorney general said:

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

As John Adams put it, “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

Barr said religion supports free government by providing a guidebook of rules to live by, “God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society”:

The Founding generation were Christians. They believed that the Judeo-Christian moral system corresponds to the true nature of man. Those moral precepts start with the two great commandments – to Love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind; and to Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

Entire article here https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/17/ag-bill-barr-religiou...

Views: 26

Comment by Watchman on October 19, 2019 at 12:17pm

I heard the whole speech and it was great. I honestly didn't know much about Barr or even that he was a person of faith, but his speech was spot on. John Adams said "“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” To live in a free society as our Founders envisioned requires a degree of self-governance, to which religion and morality are indispensable for fostering. Without it, people need a dictator to rule over them to control their passions and appetites.

Comment by Robin on October 19, 2019 at 7:35pm

I agree that Barr's speech was great! I think he is the real deal,and, I think he will take them all down.

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