Core Beliefs Based on "Unalienable Rights"
Before I can give you my position on various issues, I must first make clear how I approach thinking about those issues. That way you will know not just what I think, but why.
I believe that we face what is essentially one moral challenge which manifests itself in many areas. Simply stated, that challenge has to do with the corruption of our understanding of freedom, which leads to the abandonment of respect for law and individual responsibility, the twin pillars which ought to undergird true freedom.
As a free people, our way of life depends upon certain moral ideas. As a matter of personal conscience, I believe that Christianity most perfectly embodies those ideas.
But since Americans come from many different religious backgrounds, in dealing with issues of public policy we must derive these ideas from sources that are open to support from all the people.
Nothing meets this purpose more completely than the principles and logic of our own Declaration of Independence, so I have made it the explicit basis for dealing with the moral crisis we now face.
The Declaration is fundamentally a statement of the principles of justice that define the moral identity of the American people. It presents a certain concept of our human nature and draws out the political consequences of that concept.
All human beings are created equal. They need no title or qualification beyond their simple humanity in order to command respect for their intrinsic human dignity, their "unalienable rights."
The purpose of government is to secure these rights, and no government is just or legitimate if it systematically violates them.
But the Declaration is more than just an assertion of rights. It also makes a clear statement about the ultimate source of authority which commands respect for those rights. God, the Creator, the author of the laws of nature, is that source.
Thus the effective prerequisite for human rights is respect for God's authority and His eternal laws. This is also the prerequisite for the idea of government based upon consent, which includes free elections, representation, due process of law, etc.
If we accept the logic of our Declaration of Independence, this reverence for God is not just a matter of religious faith. It is the foundation of justice and citizenship in our Republic. Therefore, our freedom is derived from our respect for law, especially the highest law as embodied in the will of the Creator.
Thus freedom, rightly understood, cannot be confused with mere licentiousness. It first of all involves the duty to respect its own foundations in the laws of nature and nature's God. That's why our rights are "unalienable," which means that we do not have the right to surrender or destroy them by our choice or actions.
Indeed, if we make the judgment that our rights are being systematically violated, we have the duty to resist and overthrow the power responsible. This duty involves both the judgment and the moral and material capacity to resist tyranny.
These concepts constitute our character as a free people, which it is our duty to maintain.