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Restore America to its Jeffersonian Ideals

Synopsis: The Jefferson Memorial pledge on the "altar of God (of) eternal enmity against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" challenges Americans today. Governments can cause tyranny, a welfare state can cause tyranny, and political correctness creates tyranny. Pat calls for freedom for believers to pursue their faith, freedom from undue government regulation and a restoration of Jeffersonian defense of God-given liberties.

University of Virginia, March 3, 2000

This evening, I think back to one of the most profound experiences of my life when for the first time I entered the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, looked up at the statue of that incredibly handsome and powerful man, and then I read his words chiseled in the marble frieze surrounding the ceiling: "I have sworn on the altar of God eternal enmity against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

These words stirred something visceral within me, and I repeat them: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal enmity against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Jefferson Played Unique Role

Ladies and Gentlemen, unless you understand these words, you do not understand this great genius who played such a key role in shaping the United States of America.

Listen to what else Jefferson said. In the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom he wrote, "Almighty God has created the mind free." In a letter to George Washington, he wrote, "God who grave us life, gave us liberty." In the Declaration of Independence, he wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight I stand before you as a Jeffersonian Conservative, and as such, I share his hatred of any form of tyranny over the minds of men, be it Communism, be it Fascism, be it Socialism, be it the over-bearing liberal welfare state, or be it the stultifying political correctness that has reached out to stifle freedom of expression on countless college and university campuses across America.

We Must be Free to Question

I believe that men and women should have the freedom to explore truth, to question pedagogical orthodoxy, to speak out on any side of an issue, and above all, to be free from the current crop of liberal thought police who permit only those forms of speech which agree with their view of reality.

Of course, since my days at Yale Law School in the 1950s, all the way to the Presidential election of 2000, I have learned a sobering truth. Those who call themselves "liberal" are not liberal at all. They want government control of business, government control of labor, government control of education, higher government taxes on the people, government control of families, and most of all, they want, in their own hands, control of the flow of thoughts and ideas that are disseminated to the people.

There is nothing "liberal" about them. They are elitist -- convinced that they and their associates are the sole possessors of nlightenment and truth needed to lead all others.

Jefferson on 20th Century Liberals?

How would Thomas Jefferson have regarded these 21st Century "liberals"?

  • These self-proclaimed liberals, who, in the matter of human life, permit full and favorable discussion of a woman's right to choose abortion, but castigate and deny expression to those who wish to plead for the rights of the unborn?

  • Who, in the matter of human sexuality, insist that taxpayers support promiscuity, pay for illegitimacy, advertise condom use and distribution, but file lawsuits to deny the teaching of abstinence and traditional marriage for young people?

  • These liberals, who in the matter of politics accept all segments of society to participate in the political process except the 100 million members of society who are Evangelical Christians and pro-family Roman Catholics.

And if you think that assessment is overstated, please consider the fact that on Monday of this week, there was a misguided attempt to humiliate certain Virginians of religious faith in order to deny them and the candidate they supported the access to those privileges of citizenship which all Americans should enjoy as a matter of course.

Believers Disenfranchised?

I am not talking here about the free discussion of ideas on their merit. I am not talking about heated debate in the vital marketplace of a free people. I am talking about the mind-set of those who say simply that the deeply held beliefs of people of faith are not worthy of discussion, and therefore those who hold them should be stigmatized, ridiculed, and suppressed.

As I stand before you tonight, I am pleased to report that the people of Virginia still cherish the ideals of Jefferson, and on Tuesday repudiated a call for divisiveness and intolerance.

But what of the vast nation we call America? Does this nation still cherish the Jeffersonian ideal of freedom? You be the judge.

In Texas, the former Democratic Attorney General said and I quote, " The state owns your children, and it owns you too."

When our Republic was founded, there were only three federal crimes under the Constitution. From then to now, Washington has created over 3,000 federal crimes. New federal regulations restricting our freedom in some way total 60,000 pages a year. Under The Health Care Proposals advocated in 1993 by the President and Senatorial Candidate Hillary Clinton, ordinary citizens and their physicians could have become a new criminal class-threatened with heavy fines and prison sentences merely for seeking life-saving medical care outside of a government mandated health alliance.

Taxes and Regulations on the Rise

In the name of improving our lives, political liberals controlling the federal government have raised the taxes on the average American family to a level that exceeds the tribute paid by serfs in Medieval Europe. These same liberals have given us the IRS, the SEC, the EPA, the NLRB, the FEC, the FCC, the EEOC, the ICC, and the ATF, plus an alphabet soup of federal departments and agencies which along with the Justice Department have the power to intimidate, harass, bankrupt, fine, or imprison virtually every citizen of this nation.Why do we now have 3,000 federal crimes? Why were there at least 70 criminal sanctions in a plan designed to give us better health care? The answer is simple. Political liberals want utopian governmental solutions for all of society's problems. And if the ordinary people don't buy their far-out schemes, let the government declare that ordinary people are criminals.

Listen to the words of Jefferson, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical."

Let's Restore Jeffersonian Ideals

Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you tonight that the time has come in America for those who cherish the ideals of Thomas Jefferson to rise up and assert our God-given liberties and reject a continuation of the tyrannical rule of the Radical Left and their liberal allies.

Hear again, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal enmity against every form of tyranny over the minds of man." Then consider the liberal assault on our children and their teachers:In Salinas, California seven years go, Lindsay Freeman, a five-year old was asked by her kindergarten teacher to sing her favorite song in front of the class. Lindsay reports that when she started signing "Jesus Loves Me This I Know...," the teacher stopped her, saying "I'm sorry Lindsay, you can't sing that song here." Then she sent Lindsay to her chair, and told her to put her head down. Lindsay says she felt hurt and angry that she was being "punished" for signing her favorite song!

  • In San Antonio, Texas, a 52-year-old Grandmother was handcuffed, arrested, and stripped searched three times for the crime of passing out pro-life literature on a public sidewalk and street outside of a high school.

  • Micah Lynn Harbison, a second-grader in Bakersfield, California, was told by her teacher to bring a picture of her "hero" to school. When Micah Lynn brought a picture of Jesus riding a white horse, the teacher pulled her aside and told her that she could not have Jesus as her hero. Later, when her father asked the teacher why, the teacher said that the assignment asked for a "living" hero and then proceeded to tell him that her photo violated the "separation of church and state."
  • When Jason Bishop of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, took out his pocket Bible to read during free reading time at school, he was told by his teacher that his activity was "illegal" and that he should put his Bible away. Only a threatened lawsuit restored to Jason his constitutional rights.

ACLJ Seeks to Restore These Ideals

Decades ago, I resolved to say no to tyranny, but my resolve did not take the form I desired until nine years ago when I founded the American Center for Law and Justice to go into the courts of America to fight the ACLU and their allies of the Radical Left.

Since then, we have fought the tyranny of America's "thought police" in virtually every major jurisdiction, and I am pleased to report that from the Supreme Court of the United States on down, we have never lost one case! In 1998, the Center received over 102,000 complaints primarily from students or their parents outlining attempts by public schools to deny them their constitutional freedoms.

We give a tyrannical school or school system 24 hours to correct abuses, or we bring action against them in Federal Court. At present, we have over 1,000 active cases, and could bring 85 federal lawsuits against school districts demanding that they accord fundamental free speech rights to children with religious faith. Next month, our chief counsel will argue in the U.S. Supreme Court for the simple freedom of a high school football team in Texas to say a student-initiated voluntary prayer before a game.

Mr. Jefferson spoke of "enmity against tyranny over the mind." These school officials haven't seen enmity against tyranny until they face-off in a federal court against our Chief Counsel, Jay Sekulow, and try to justify their actions.

But this brief discourse would be incomplete if I failed to emphasize one facet of the writings of Jefferson which the Radical Left has studiously ignored.

Freedom Comes from God

Every statement that Jefferson made about freedom carried with it his clear understanding that the right to freedom for every man and woman does not come from government; it does not come from social position; it does not come from wealth; it does not come from intellectual attainment. No …Freedom comes from the direct creative act of a sovereign God.

Jefferson said, in fact, that this truth in his day was "self-evident." To George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Patrick Henry, in fact, to all of the Founders of this great nation, religious faith was the indispensable support of all of the iberties of a free people. As John Adams put it when the Constitution was drafted, " This constitution will serve only a moral and a religious people. It is totally inadequate for any other."

In a letter to George Washington, Jefferson wrote, " Can the liberties of a nation, be preserved when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country," he continued, "when I reflect that God is just, and His justice cannot sleep forever." Indeed, I tremble for my country when I realize that the Radical Left has for decades systematically excised from our nation's consciousness virtually every vestige of the historic faith of the Founders of this nation.

A Moral Lobotomy

In the words of former United States Attorney General Bill Barr, the liberals have performed a "moral lobotomy" on the public schools of America.

The consequences are predictable. We are engulfed in a tidal wave of broken families, illegitimacy, drug abuse, alcoholism, murder, rape, school shootings, and spiraling health care costs -- all of which are rapidly eroding the freedoms we have so long taken for granted. But tonight, there is hope. What the political left has taken away, we can recapture. You are the heirs of Thomas Jefferson. You study at the University he founded. You honor his memory.

Let me challenge you tonight to let his words move you to action. Fight for freedom. Fight against tyranny. With God's help, work to bring about a rebirth of the Jeffersonian ideal in this nation.

Thank you, and God bless you.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
—Philippians 4:13

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