The View From 1776

Tocqueville Revisited - Part Two

My latest monthly column in “Christian Times Today” deals with the ACLU’s demand that Los Angeles County spend millions of dollars to remove a tiny Christian cross from the county seal that appears on county buildings, vehicles, and stationery.

Public understanding has changed greatly since 1831 when Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States and wrote his celebrated ?Democracy in America.?

At the end of May, the ACLU demanded that Los Angeles County remove a Christian cross that is one of several symbols on the county’s official seal.  This despite the historical fact that Catholic churches and monasteries were very important contributors to the founding of Los Angeles in the days of Spanish rule.

The ACLU nonetheless objects that the seal “prominently depicts a Latin cross, a sectarian religious symbol that represents the beliefs of one segment of the county’s diverse population” and is an “impermissible endorsement of Christianity.” 

Why does the ACLU make this such a big deal? 

The ACLU and its fellow-travelers among college professors, the media, and much of the judiciary declare that religion must be entirely removed from all public activity and discourse.  This is nonsense.  Liberals simply want to get rid of Christianity in order unconstitutionally to establish their secular, materialistic, and atheistic religion of socialism as the official national religion. 

There is no such thing as a cohesive political society without unifying religious beliefs.  Even the most remote African tribes, along with every society in history and archaeological pre-history, has its religious traditions that teach people their origins, the nature of their relations to the larger world, and the rules of conduct within the society. 

And, undeniably, the United States was founded as a Christian nation by God-fearing church-goers.

Diversity, multi-culturalism, and moral relativity are merely tools for destroying traditions of Western Christian civilization on which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are based.  For the ACLU and their fellow liberals, Auguste Comte’s Religion of Humanity and Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” trump “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” cited by Jefferson in the Declaration.

To understand this better, as we celebrate the Fourth of July, let’s again look at the United States of 1831 that Alexis de Tocqueville described in his “Democracy in America.” 

Tocqueville noted that, “There is hardly any human action, however particular it may be, that does not originate in some very general idea men have conceived of the Deity, of his relation to mankind, of the nature of their own souls, and of their duties to their fellow creatures.” 

Christian understanding of God’s Will, he says, is essential to moral behavior and civic virtue.  “ must be admitted that, if [religion] does not save men in another world, it is at least very conducive to their happiness and their greatness in this.”

Assessing conditions in the United States from his vantage point of forty years of French experience under socialism, Tocqueville saw religion as a crucial bulwark preserving American democratic institutions.  In France, which was officially secular, people became entirely selfish and self-centered, prepared to endure any form of political despotism in the name of equality.  The French cared nothing for national greatness.  They wanted only their personal entitlements.

Religion in America drew the people together in common cause and made them concerned about their neighbors and the general well-being of society.

Tocqueville concluded, “For my own part, I doubt whether man can ever support at the same time complete religious independence and entire political freedom.  And I am inclined to think that if faith be wanting in him, he must be subject; and if he be free, he must believe.”

The great danger of socialism is its inherent tendency toward totalitarian despotism.  This is true in all its forms: American liberalism, French socialism, Soviet Communism, Mussolini’s Fascism, Hitler’s National Socialism, and so on.

Liberal-socialists want to play God and regulate all aspects of personal conduct.  To do that, they have to get rid of the spiritual and cosmological aspects of Christianity, which teach people to be personally responsible for moral conduct.  Liberals prefer to take their guidance from intellectual planners and bureaucratic social-engineers in the collectivized National State.

This was made clear, if anyone had doubts, in the ACLU-sponsored 1925 Scopes “monkey trial.” ACLU attorney Clarence Darrow ridiculed the Bible and defended Darwin’s speculative theory of evolution.  ACLU official Walter Nelles explained that the purpose was to discredit traditional American views that were ?? a rearguard action, protesting the advance of science, secularism, cultural pluralism and changing sexual mores.?