What if a group of people set out to change America – without telling you or asking your permission?
The precepts that underlie the foundation of our Republic are revealed by one of the most famous sentiments in all of human history. After referring to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” in the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson then declared:
“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.”
These ideas, so central to the founding generation, were rejected by secular progressives. Arising in the U.S. in the period 1880-1920, progressives were determined to reformulate America as a humanistic enterprise. Toward this end, they set out to capture the institutions of our nation in order to transform it.
They were tremendously successful. Before the end of the 1920s, Roscoe Pound, dean of Harvard Law School, was able to say with confidence that “the cycle is complete. We are back to the [governing] state as the unchallengeable authority behind legal precepts. The state takes the place of Jehovah handing the tablets of the law to Moses. …” (Emphasis added.)
Along with changing views on the power and primacy of the state came changing views on the nature of man. One of the leading progressive theorists of the day, John Dewey, who had a dramatic impact on public schools in America, believed that human beings actually had no “nature.”
According to Thomas G. West, professor of politics at Hillsdale College and author of Vindicating the Founders, Dewey believed human beings “are born as empty vessels, as nothing in themselves.” The state had the obligation to fill those empty vessels.
“[S]ocial arrangements, laws, institutions … are means of creating individuals,” said Dewey. “Individuality in a social and moral sense is something to be wrought out.” (Emphasis in original.)
What about the divinely-granted “unalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Dewey and the progressives dismissed them.
“Natural rights and natural liberties exist only in the kingdom of mythological social zoology,” he said.
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Editor’s Note: The short blog above – the first of several in a series – is a summary of one of the hard-hitting chapters in the exciting new booklet from AFA – The Progressive Threat to the American Republic. This powerful tool pinpoints the core principles of secular humanism and traces the way in which progressivism has reshaped the United States. The booklet's six short chapters cover God’s revelation in nature, natural law, the progressive attempt to take over the institutions of America, the intent to replace God with a humanistic state, the demand of the Leviathan state to ultimately require unconditional obedience, and the humanistic tendency toward fascism. Also included are discussion questions for personal reflection, small groups, or Sunday school classes.
Much of the material is also available as a Cultural Institute lecture by the booklet's author, Ed Vitagliano.
You can get multiple copies of both the booklet and the Cultural Institute lecture here. Share with family, friends, and fellow church members.