Where do our unalienable rights come from?
Published Wed, Aug 6 2008 9:50 AM
I can't honestly say that I was a good student of history in my youth. I'm trying to make up for that now, because it turns out that the true history of our country is important in understanding how we got to where we are today. One thing that helps in this quest is the availability of the original documents that the founders used to shape our nation.
The left loves to think that right wing talk radio audiences are a bunch of mindless drones. Sometimes substitute hosts and their callers help to support this notion. Such was the case on last night's Mark Levin show. Jerry Agar was guest hosting for Mark last night, and he's a pretty good host with some interesting insights, but he's just not as good as Mark Levin.
It bothers me when people that try to educate us get their facts wrong. It bothers me even more when callers respond to correct the host and get their facts wrong too. It's important, if you're not a mindless drone, to listen critically, and to question the assertions of fact that people on the radio make.
To begin with, Jerry made the mistake of asserting that the notion of mankind having unalienable rights comes from The Bill of Rights. This is incorrect. While the ninth amendment does say…
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
… The Bill of Rights says nothing about unalienable rights or their source. The document that does is the Declaration of Independence.
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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
In any case, a bit later in the show, Jerry clarified what he had said earlier. He was trying to make the point that amoral people are not likely to respect the concept of unalienable rights, or The Bill of Rights. This time he didn't assert that the concept came from The Bill of Rights, but he tied them together, which is perfectly reasonable, especially in the context he was speaking of.
“John” from New York called in to correct Jerry, apparently based on Jerry's earlier statement…
“Your comment regarding a higher power or unalienable rights being referred to in The Bill of Rights is, I think, misplaced. I think what you're referring to is the Declaration of Independence.”
John was right about that. Jerry did indeed earlier in the show make that mistake. But Jerry then said…
“No, I said that the concept behind unalienable rights, from the founding fathers, was that, a higher power gives us natural rights, natural law, and therefore government has no right to take those things away from us.”
While this might have clarified his remarks, it's not precisely what he said earlier in the show. But, Jerry's right, a higher power does indeed give us natural rights, and government has no right to take them away. The Declaration says specifically “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. Being endowed with rights by a “Creator” implies that those rights do indeed come from a higher power.
John countered, and his argument appears to remove the Creator or higher power from the discussion.
“Well, I would only say that I think the natural law that you're referring to, that Jefferson referred to when drafting the Declaration, he was referring to John Locke in Natural Law. I don't think anyone ever used the expression ‘from a higher power’. He was talking about unalienable rights of mankind meaning those rights that could not be taken away by a government.
“I thought your reference to The Bill of Rights, I may have misheard it, but I thought you said that our own Bill of Rights incorporated the higher law concept, which they do not, actually the only reference to religion in The Bill of Rights, is in the first amendment which says ‘Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion’.”
Here, John was wrong. Yes, Thomas Jefferson did draw upon Locke's concept of natural law and the innate, indefeasible rights of mankind, but he specifically referenced the Creator as being the source of those rights. He may not have actually used the expression “from a higher power”, but he certainly implied that a higher power was the source of our rights. He was right that The Bill of Rights does not incorporate the “higher law concept” though.
He went on to misquote the first amendment, which does not say that Congress shall make no law respecting “the establishment of a religion”, but rather “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. He also neglected to include the rest of that particular clause “, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”. Isn't it interesting that people that argue against the notion of a higher power always neglect that bit?
Jerry didn't pick up on this, which isn't surprising since he was defending his notion that the Bill of Rights arises from the notion of unalienable rights which are given to us by a higher power.
“Yeah, what I meant was that it flows from that concept. Then if you want, and by the way, if you're… an irreligious person, if you're an atheist or an agnostic, and you, you want to look at it as natural law higher than government, that's OK with me too, but you have to understand that government is not the end of power in our lives.”
It's not entirely OK with me, but then I firmly believe that Thomas Jefferson wasn't merely referring to “natural law”. After all, he did mention a Creator. Further, he had earlier referred to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God”.
But John wasn't through…
“No, but I think we have a restricted government in the sense that we do have a government, and Jefferson never said ‘Separation of Church and State’.
Here again, we have an error. Much of the problems that we have regarding the interpretation of the first amendment today stems from a misinterpretation of nearly these very words by Thomas Jefferson in his Letter to the Danbury Baptists…
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
Of course, the entire point of this letter was to defend the free exercise of religion in America, not to condemn it as Jefferson's words have been twisted to do. Because of the deliberate twisting of this “wall of separation” remark, we are forced to endure a continuous attack by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union upon any expression of Christianity in the public square — despite the fact that Thomas Jefferson had nothing to do with the drafting of the first amendment.
In any case, to answer the question in this post's title, our unalienable rights come to us from God, and God alone. We are not granted our rights by our government, our government was instituted to defend our rights. The Declaration of Independence hammers this home…
--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
Since our rights come to us from God, it seems to me that we ought to be able to determine just which of the rights asserted by people in today's society are truly unalienable rights, and which are not. Thomas Jefferson in his Letter to the Danbury Baptists had this to say (just after his declaration of the “wall of separation”)…
Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
“[H]e has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” I'd go a bit further. Our unalienable rights come to us from God, and we have no unalienable rights in opposition to God's will.
Our founding fathers did not enumerate all of our unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. Rather they enumerated some that were “among these”. Neither did the framers of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights enumerate all of our unalienable rights in those documents, specifically not enumerating those already enumerated in the Declaration of Independence for example. The ninth amendment makes it clear that they were aware of the fact that they did not enumerate all of our unalienable rights.
On the basis of the ninth amendment, it seems reasonable that our courts might be inclined to protect certain rights that are not enumerated in our Constitution. We must remember though, that our unalienable rights come to us from God, not the Constitution, not the Bill of Rights, and certainly not from the Supreme Court of The United States. Considering this, and that we are not likely endowed by our Creator with rights that are in opposition to His will, we should cast a critical eye upon which rights the courts assert that we have (for example the “right” to abortion), and upon any restriction of those rights explicitly recognized by our founders as coming from Him.
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Stanford Matthews responded with: Needed discussion
Perhaps it is always important, but the topic of your post can use constant renewal. These days it seems especially critical to regularly remind folks much is on the table and we are much too neglectful of our responsibilities toward country.
I think the comment about 'getting it right' is absolutely spot on and also requires regular repetition. Not just on talk radio, as all mass media sources create nearly an equal number of errors along with what they may get right.
Precision is not something the human species practices by default.
Layla responded with:
What an excellent essay on points of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. American's would do well to re-read both documents and study the history and nature of our founding fathers and this nations inception, mainly focusing on the how and why.
At the end of the day-we must all know our rights come from G-d, not man. Unfortunately man has misconstrued G-d's will as we see in our own nation today.
Truly a most excellent write-up Perri, one of your best! :)
Angel responded with:
Amen my friend...but God is no longer welcome in our Nation..........great read Perri!:)
Nicea responded with: Interpetation......
"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." Who is to say who "THEIR" creator is. Our constitution protects everyone of every faith.
Perri Nelson responded with: Interpretation
I don't disagree that our Constitution protects everyone of every faith. The first amendment is there specifically to protect the unalienable right to freely exercise your religion. This is the specific right protected by the statement “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”. That right doesn't come from our Constitution though, it comes from our God.
The injunction upon Congress against making a law respecting an establishment of religion does not by itself protect any right. It merely prevents the Congress from establishing a national religion, such as the Church of England. It takes the second part of that statement “, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” to protect our right to exercise our religion.
What I am saying in this post is that the founders believed “unanimously”, according to the Declaration of Independence, that our unalienable rights come to us from our Creator, or, as the preceding paragraph in the declaration put it, “Nature's God”. To me that's inarguable.
Our rights are God given, and therefore must be consistent with God's will. It is my contention that the deliberate destruction of life for the sake of convenience is counter to His will. It is my contention that the “freedom of speech, or of the press” is a God given right, and that as such ought not to include the “right” to distribute pornography and other obscenities.
Whether you agree with me on these contentions or not isn't the issue that I'm striving to present here though. Rather, I think that we need to listen with a critical ear when we talk about political issues. We need to understand what our founding fathers believed and meant when they crafted our government if we are to preserve that which they handed down to us.
Nicea responded with:
Anyone's disagreement to these contentions would result in a much different interpretation from, well, YOUR interpretation. I agree that we DO need to listen with a critical ear much more than we do today. But when you "Understand" what our Founding Fathers believed and meant, it is merely an interpretation. Simply replacing our courts with conservatives doesn't remove their ability to interpret correctly. The moment it does, I believe that Democracy is doomed. The only individuals that seem to have an issue interpreting the intentions of our Founding Fathers are those that disagree with those intentions.
Perri Nelson responded with: Understanding...
So plain words require “interpretation”. The statement in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” is open to “interpretation”, as if the plain meaning of the words isn't sufficient interpretation?
The founding fathers left plenty of evidence of their beliefs and meaning in their very words.
I am not advocating “replacing our courts with conservatives” at all here, even though I personally believe that conservatism holds more closely to our founder's intent than does modern day liberalism. Rather, strict adherence to the plain meaning of words at the time they were written and the documented intent of those that actually wrote those words is what I'm advocating.
The Constitution on which our Union rests, shall be administered by me [as President] according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States at the time of its adoption - a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it, and who opposed it merely lest the construction should be applied which they denounced as possible.
— Thomas Jefferson, 1801 - letter to Mesrs. Eddy, Russel, Thurber, Wheaton and Smith
Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction
— Thomas Jefferson, 1803 - letter to Wilson Nicholas
Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.
— Thomas Jefferson, 1823 - letter to William Johnson
The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.
— James Wilson, 1790 - Of the Study of Law in the United States
I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. ... If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founder, will I believe appear to all unbiassed Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption.
— James Madison, 1824 - letter to Henry Lee
We don't have a “living” Constitution, open to interpretation to fit the mood of the moment. What truly will doom our Republic is the adoption of such a notion.
David responded with:
"...we are not likely endowed by our Creator with rights that are in opposition to His will, we should cast a critical eye upon which rights the courts assert that we have (for example the “right” to abortion), and upon any restriction of those rights explicitly recognized by our founders as coming from Him."
But, "We don't have a “living” Constitution, open to interpretation to fit the mood of the moment. What truly will doom our Republic is the adoption of such a notion."
*sigh* I submit to you, Perri, that "the adoption of such a notion" has already been affected in large part. If "What truly will doom our Republic" is the adoption f that notion, then the Republic is well and truly doomed, already. Indeed, as you know from previous arguments I've made, the acceptance of that notion began almost 150 years ago, and attitudes which assert that any declarations of the Founders' intent are merely an opinion are the direct descendants of Appomattox.
"But when you "Understand" what our Founding Fathers believed and meant, it is merely an interpretation."
Urm, no. We have more than adequate record of the Founders' clear and unequivocal statements about what they believed, and about what they meant when they hammered out the nations State Papers (which include, among others, the Declaration and the Constitution). These things were not done in a corner, in secret. Indeed, many of the Founders kept detailed personal diaries and journals, in addition to the copious records of their public debates, letters and broadsides concerning the founding documents of this country. Heck, many (the eventual goal of the project is all) of Washington's papers alone have been collected into a 27-volume set of heavy doorstops (what the collection's apparently used for, since I see little evidence folks have availaed themselves of the set).
To blithely say, "But when you "Understand" what our Founding Fathers believed and meant, it is merely an interpretation," is *heh* deeply shallow and indicates either
1. A vast store of ignorance of what the Founders themselves said about what they believed and meant OR
2. A disingenuity that deserves no voice.
Perri Nelson responded with: Well and truly doomed
I have not forgotten your arguments regarding the acceptance of the notion of a “living” Constitution, and in fact, I agree with many of them. I would argue that it wasn't at Appomatox where this began though, but rather in the courtroom of Chief Justice John Marshall. We have already lost many of our liberties to this notion, and the slide continues.
Even so, I don't think that I will “go gentle into that good night”. I will continue to argue for a return to the principles of our founders until I'm blue in the face and beyond. I will continue to try to educate people about the importance of those principles as well as to learn what I can of them until my voice is taken from me.
It may be a losing battle, at least in this generation. But I have to fight it… for my son's generation.
Nicea responded with:
How does the quote below fit into my vast store of ignorance. I admire your tenacity but our constitution will never recognize a single religion over another in this country. Disingenuity? Really? Urm, no.
Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov' & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov' of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together; ~ James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt
Perri Nelson responded with: A single religion
I don't believe that anyone in this conversation has mentioned a “single” religion being recognized or supported by our Constitution in this conversation yet. In fact, I believe I brought up the point that the first amendment actually prevents Congress from establishing a state or rather national religion.
In fact, the entire point of this article is to encourage people to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of what our historical documents actually say and mean. In that context, I think you'll find it interesting to note that the injunction in the first amendment originally was only applied to the national legislature. The States were free to do as they pleased in this regard. It is only with the fourteenth amendment and the Supreme Court's incorporation of the first amendment into it that the injunctions in the first amendment were expanded into a general injunction against all government in the United States.
…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;
Even with that, I believe that there's still legitimate room to question the expansion of a specific injunction against the national legislature into one against the States. In fact, if I recall correctly, and in this case, there's plenty of doubt, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the ratification of the first amendment some of the States actually had State churches. I would be happy to see evidence either refuting this claim or supporting it, since it would aid in my understanding of this issue.
But all of that is beside the point in my original article. I wasn't writing about the establishment of a national church. I wasn't writing about the dangers of government sponsored and endorsed religious indoctrination.
No, what I was writing about was the nature and source of our unalienable rights (not just the right to freely express our religion). I was writing about the documented understanding of our founding fathers regarding their nature and source.
The founders well understood (again from their own writings) the importance of religion in everyday life and in public life. They understood the importance of morality and virtue to a democratic society. They further understood the danger to a democratic society of a virtueless and faithless people. Jerry Agar was right, amoral people are not likely to respect the concept of unalienable rights.
The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.
— John Adams, 1776 - letter to Zabdiel Adams
A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.
— Samuel Adams, 1779 - letter to James Warren
I worry for our country. I worry not out of fear that a single religion will be established. I worry because our people have grown willfully ignorant. I worry because the principles upon which our nation was founded are not taught to our youth. And, I worry because of a growing hostility to those principles in our public discourse.
On a side note, the ability to find a quote and paste it into your argument does not speak to your ignorance or the lack of it. It merely illustrates that you have the ability to use tools such as Google and a keyboard. My site logs indicate that your original visit came from a Google blog search using the keywords “separation of church and state”, which is further proof of your abilities in that area. That you came willing to debate is commendable, and I thank you for your visit and the conversation.
I'd like to remind you though, that James Madison, although he was indeed speaking about the necessity of keeping religion and government separate from one another, still believed in the fundamental importance of religion, and virtue in particular, in the individual life of the citizen.
Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.
— James Madison, 1788 - speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention
Returning to my original topic, and the radio conversation that inspired it… amoral people are unlikely to respect the source of our unalienable rights, or even the concept that we have them. I still believe that's true. This is particularly true, and dangerous with regard to politicians.
Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.
— Joseph Story, 1833 - Commentaries on the Constitution
This very thing is happening in our Republic today. We banish Christianity from the public square. We reward the profligate and the amoral, even the immoral. And our politicians flatter us, choosing their words to fit their audiences, choosing their promises to fit their audiences, only to betray us once they reach office.
Jerry Agar responded with:
I appreciate the excellent discussion here, sparked by my comments when I filled in as host on Mark Levin's show. Live radio can be frustrating for the host in these instances, as time can prevent us from exploring the finer points (so important to a discussion of this issue) when spontaneous comments are firing back and forth. You have covered it well. Thanks for listening to Mark Levin's show.
Mustang responded with:
Religion, by definition, is a totalitarian concept because no fully indoctrinated believer is able to argue the merits of other belief systems. It is an innate belief that “my religion is better than yours.” That John Locke understood the behavior of religious enthusiasts explains why he articulated his ideas based on a somewhat different concept: the “state of nature.” No person has the right to impose his religious views upon any other. Men are not gods; they may not force their ideas upon any other person.
I believe our founding fathers understood the dangerous tendency among religionists to pursue their own belief systems aggressively, to impose them upon others … even when disguised as the “hand of friendship.” Individuals who reside within the state of nature should find comfort in the idea that each of us is free to choose his or her own path with respect to religious affiliation, or lack of it. I believe that is why the founders used such terms as Supreme Being, Creator, and Almighty rather than identifying the name of a particular god.
I very much agree with Mr. Locke regarding his concept of the existence of a state of nature, and this may explain why I oppose religious enthusiasts at every turn. It doesn’t matter to me if zealots are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim … if they are radical in their beliefs, then I assume they pose a danger to the foundation of a democratic society generally and to my religious freedom specifically. At no previous time in history has religious totalitarianism or politically correct favoritism posed a greater danger to a free society than it does today; each of us should be well aware of the circumstances to which I refer.
Nicea responded with:
Yeah, I checked out your IP snooper during my initial visit. Was that installed before or after the Patriot Act? Just kidding…
I really don’t believe for a second that a religion is required to inject morals or virtues. The amoral are in no way exclusive to those yet to make a personal religious decision. The millions shelled out by the Vatican to hush the abused is a glowing testament to that fact. Which means someone, well versed and engaged in a certain faith can be just as detrimental to our country as one who isn’t. One can possess all the morals and virtues needed while not subscribing to a certain brand of religion or faith. To believe faith is required for a Democracy to thrive is an insult to those that have made different personal decisions. But that is only one great thing about a Democracy.
Neither Sam Adams’ nor John Adams’ letters reference the need of the supernatural to possess these traits. I believe it is important to note this. (No interpretation)
Now, that being said, I agree with almost everything you said regarding our decline. I could not be more disenchanted with our politicians, all of them. We are seeing social decay on a freakish scale. I am not sure if there is a solution.
But if all of this is spurred by the desire to profess one’s personal religious decision in the public square then there may not be a solution. As long as the “Public” is funded by taxing all citizens, then the rights of all citizens must be respected equally. Recognizing an unalienable right, regardless of its source, does give one license to trample on separate rights afforded by the Democracy or the constitution.
I do not believe that our Founding Fathers would have had it any other way.
While you may maintain that certain rights were provided by your god it does not say such in the constitution. It is vague regarding gods for a good reason.
[ “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. Being endowed with rights by a “Creator” implies that those rights do indeed come from a higher power.]
Nobody, even our Founding Fathers have the right or knowledge to determine what that higher power is. Why would our Founding Fathers mandate a creator for each person protected by the constitution? They would not and did not. That is right out of the Taliban playbook.
Great site Perri and great conversation. Regardless of what anyone believes I don’t think our next presidential election is a solution to any of it.
Keep up the good work and the great site…….
Nicea responded with:
Recognizing an unalienable right, regardless of its source, does NOT give one license to trample on separate rights afforded by the Democracy or the constitution.
Perri Nelson responded with:
Mustang and Nicea,
No person has the right to impose his religious views upon any other. Men are not gods; they may not force their ideas upon any other person.
I agree wholeheartedly. While I happen to hold to a particular religious viewpoint, I do not presume to know the whole truth. I will continue to assert those truths that I believe, as I believe it is my duty to do so, but I don't believe that religion either can, or should be forced upon anyone. I tend to agree with Thomas Jefferson that religion is a matter between a Man and his God, and that the legitimate powers of government can only reach actions, and not opinions or beliefs.
As for John Locke and natural law, I tend to agree, at least in principle, although not entirely, with Jerry Agar about this. If you prefer to recognize that our unalienable rights come to us from “natural law higher than government” then in principle that's better than assuming that our rights come to us from government.
However, the Declaration of Independence which is, I believe, a document of even greater import than our Constitution does assert that our unalienable rights are granted to us by our Creator. I think that the emphasis on our Creator rather than just natural law is significant. In any case, I have not once asserted that the Constitution or The Bill of Rights recognizes this.
But, as Mustang said, the dangerous tendency among religionists… to to impose them [their belief systems] upon others is probably why the founders (Thomas Jefferson in this case) chose the term “Creator” rather than naming a particular god. The founding fathers did not, and would not “mandate a creator for each person protected by the constitution”. They were much wiser than to do that.
Finally Nicea, there's no need to apologize for the typo. I assumed you meant to place the “NOT” in your statement, although clarifying it will probably make it easier on other readers. I know that the commenting form makes it difficult to see everything you've typed. I've really got to work on that. I would still take issue with your statement, but only with the last part of it.
Our rights are not “afforded by the Democracy or the [C]onstitution”. They are merely secured by it. This is why I place the Declaration of Independence in higher esteem than the Constitution, because it outlines the principles upon which governments are instituted and abolished in the first place.
--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
This by the way, was a part of the argument used by South Carolina to justify their secession from the Union in 1860. It's a shame that they didn't also consider the first part of that paragraph, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. If they had, perhaps that war might have become unnessesary, and we wouldn't have had to sacrifice so many lives to abolish slavery.
Mustang responded with:
I suspect our founding fathers did not make a distinction between “creator” and “state of nature.” Perhaps they assumed (as I do) that if God is the architect of the universe, then everything He created is within the State of Nature; it is therefore divine. If we are searching for a perfect balance within the State of Nature, we seek the divine. Of course, I could be wrong; the Creator has not consulted with me about this.