In Believers, Thinkers, and Founders: How We Came to Be One Nation Under God, Kevin SeamusHasson founder and president emeritus of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty offers a refreshing resolution toa familiar conundrum: If there is real religious freedom in America, how is it that our government keeps invoking God?He s everywhere from our currency to the Pledge of Allegiance. Isn t that all entirely too religious? And just whose God arewe talking about anyway? If we are intellectually honest, shouldn t we scrub all these references to God from our public life?
Yet the Declaration of Independence says that God is the source of our rights. The traditional position, writesHasson, is that our fundamental human rights including those secured by the First Amendment are endowed to us bythe Creator, and that it would be perilous to permit the government ever to repudiate that point. America has steadfastly repeatedthat for more than 200 years, throughout all branches and levels of government.
To say that there is no Creator who endows us with rights, Hasson argues, is to do more than simply tinker with one ofthe most famous one-liners in history; it is to change the starting point of our whole explanation of who we are as Americansand, ultimately, why our government is a limited one in the first place. What to do?
Hasson looks closely at the nation s founding and sees a solution in the classical distinction between faith and reason.The existence of God, he points out, can traditionally be known by reason alone, while who God is can only be seen by faith.By recognizing the distinction between the self-evident Creator referred to in the Declaration of Independence and God asrevealed in our faith traditions, we can move past the culture wars that plague us. In short, Hasson argues that we can have arobust First Amendment without abandoning our natural rights.In Believers, Thinkers, and Founders, Hasson examines that idea while looking at a host of issues including the Pledge ofAllegiance, prayer at public events, and the Declaration of Independence as he demonstrates how we can still be one nationunder God."