Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show on September 15, 2015, about his new book, The Court and The World – American Law and The New Global Realities.
I don’t wish to review the book here, but just to add a short comment on what they both missed about their own country.
Justice Breyer brought up a Ugandan Judge who was impressed with how lawful Americans are, compared to other nations. We respect the rule of law, even when we don’t agree with this or that decision. They brought up Bush v. Gore in 2000 as an example (never mind that recounts showed Bush won Florida). The Ugandan judge wanted to learn the secret. All Breyer said, it seemed to me, is that it is “amazing” that we do this. Rose, of course, agreed.
So do I. It is amazing.
However, what both interviewer and interviewee missed is the religious component to America, both now and at her founding. This website has kept track of it and will continue to do so. Just click on the categories Early Quaker History and Early History of PA, and History. Even the Family History category will clarify matters. Sometimes the earliest Founders went astray, but they set themselves on a path that honored God as he gave them the light to see that path.
I thought about embedding all sorts links to comments from the Founders illustrating the point, but their views are well known–or you can google them. They all agree that Christianity is important for the soul of this nation. It provides guidelines and reinforces moral law, which can best be summed up in the Ten Commandments and other biblical principles, like “love thy neighbor” and “do good to one another.”
Liberty without the moral law and religion can breed lawlessness.
Through moral law and religion we have developed a national character. I thought of the old saying, “Twig is bent, so the tree is inclined.” That means early influences have a permanent effect. We are indeed prone to honor court decisions and the law–and use wisdom and discernment when a decision or a statute breaks moral law.
Think of the American Revolution that threw off an unjust tyranny, or the Civil War that eventually kept the Union together and led to the Thirteenth Amendment freeing the slaves. We used moral law and sound reason to purge out bad human laws and injustice.
Our Founders’ early influences have had a permanent effect on us today. Revival after revival has carried and transformed this nation, and that’s why we prosper today and are a good and decent people, as much as any people can be.
The ancient Greeks said, “Know thyself.” It’s hard to do. Maybe it’s even more difficult to “know thy country.”
It just seems to me that time after time intellectuals don’t credit religion generally or Christianity specifically–when rightly practiced–for the source of good and law-keeping in America.