This past week I began instructing a graduate class online entitled “American Framework for Free Enterprise” covering the five core principles of the Chesapeake Energy School of Business at Oklahoma Wesleyan: free enterprise, Constitutional republic, federalism, the rule of law and Judeo-Christian values.
Yesterday I was recording a segment having to do with Judeo-Christian values and our unique American rule of law. In doing so I covered distinctions between unalienable rights addressed in our Declaration of Independence (“we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”) and civil rights to which rights are almost always referred modernly.
There is a significant distinction.
Rights conferred are dependent upon the giver of those rights. In the Declaration of Independence our founders purposefully addressed “unalienable” rights endowed or given by the Creator, God. In the context of the Declaration, government whose purpose is to secure of protect those rights, cannot unilaterally take a right endowed by God away.
Civil rights are conferred by civil authority – civil government. If the government gives a right, who has the authority to take it away? Government.
As we begin commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. leading up to January 18th, the holiday in his honor, today’s cultural climate cries out for a reminder of his legacy, including the Biblical inspiration he credited for standing up for equal rights and his understanding of what a just law is – one that comports with a higher law, God’s law.
Several years ago I wrote two columns for the Wharton Journal-Spectator in honor of Dr. King. “King’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ provides insight into the origins of the American Civil Rights Movement” appeared on January 9, 2008 and “’Letter from Birmingham Jail’ reveals King’s view of ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ laws, and which can be disobeyed” appeared a week later on January 16, 2008. Both are attached as PDF files should you like to read more.