The divine right of kings was a simple principle from which monarchs derived their right to rule from the will of God. An important derivation of this divine right was that no earthly office or individual had the right to question the rule of a monarch, regardless of how tyrannical or oppressive that rule might be. This divine right was overthrown a few short centuries ago in the Age of Enlightenment, which is also called the Age of Reason. The yoke of the divine right of kings was cast off for what essentially is the divine rights of the people.
The Age of Enlightenment spanned an approximate period from the middle of the 1600s to the end of the 1700s. The names of many famous people are found within this age like Spinoza, Voltaire, Locke, Newton, Descartes, Diderot, the founding fathers of the United States of America, and many more. This was not only a time of revolutionary thinking, but also of revolutions. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was a product of this era and expresses well the principle of the divine rights of the people.
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. (The Declaration of Independence)
It is a shame that today’s Americans seem to have forgotten the significance of this document in world history. I suspect that most are not even aware that this document is the cornerstone to the foundation that the United States of America was established upon. This document established the legitimacy of the government that would later be formed with the Constitution of the United States. The founding fathers of this nation confronted the divine right of kings with the divine rights of the people with the words “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…” This is a very significant document.
The Constitution of the United States is an important document, but it is not the most significant work of the founding fathers, or even their second most significant work. The Constitution simply delineates the democratic form and structure of American government, or what constitutes this government. The dedication of the founding fathers to the divine rights of the people is revealed by their awareness that democracy, or majority rule, could diminish the divine rights of individuals outside of the majority, otherwise known as minorities.
The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights, and this is the founding fathers second most significant work concerning the divine rights of the people. These amendments were considered so important that it was made very difficult to alter or eradicate them. Americans should hold the founding fathers in great esteem for the care and concern they had for the divine rights of the people. However, there are factions within the United States that demonstrate a lack of respect for this work, and therefore for its authors.
The principle of the separation of church and state, as set within the First Amendment, has been continually violated by groups attempting to advance their religion on public grounds and in public institutions within government administration. There are those who still want their religious beliefs about the origins of humankind taught in public schools. However, the claim that the founding fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation is a serious aberration that portrays the work of the founding fathers with contempt; it suggests that the founding fathers were not capable of accurately expressing their intentions. This is a disrespectful assertion born of selfish motives that ignores the historical record.
The work of the founding fathers within the historical context already described reveals them to be people of outstanding intelligence and conscience who were concerned with the divine rights of all people, rather than favoring any particular group. These were statesmen who set a standard that puts the majority of today’s politicians to shame, particularly the ones that pander to a religious majority. Conduct indicates that the average modern American politician holds little understanding of the work the founding fathers did concerning the divine rights of the people, much less to hold them in esteem and view them as role models.
The contrast between the standard set by the founding fathers and the conduct of modern day politicians and citizens reveals the degree of corruption to American ideals. The founding fathers did carry the divine rights of the people into their third significant work, the Constitution, as revealed in its Preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Constitution of the United States)
How can our politicians accomplish the purposes of their offices as outlined in this Preamble if they favor the corporate entity and/or a religious entity over the corporeal entities of the People of the United States? This nation is in dire need of leaders who will “promote the general Welfare” instead of giving partisan politics or re-election campaigns the higher priority. We need leaders who respect the divine rights of the people regardless of whether the people belong to a majority or a minority.
How can we Americans expect higher caliber leaders if we do not hold them accountable for their words and deeds? How can we hold them accountable for their words and deeds if we are ignorant of the inheritance left to us by our founding fathers? How can we find higher caliber leaders if they are drawn from a general population that has become generally ignorant of their inheritance?
This nation was born out of thirteen colonies under the British monarchy. The principle of the divine right of kings included the right to declare a state religion. The Separatists that are commonly known as Pilgrims came here to practice their religious beliefs without persecution due to irreconcilable differences with the Church of England, but both factions were Christian. If the contentious religious factions in modern America successfully eliminated the separation of church and state aspect of the First Amendment, how long would it be before one domination won favor over all others? The only way the divine rights of the people can be secured for one is if they are secured for all. The founding fathers were smart enough to realize this truth which should be self-evident.
It should be self-evident that We the People have common ground in these troubled times to set aside our differences to find and elect leaders of integrity who will perform the duties of the offices they will occupy to “promote the general Welfare.” We need leaders who will uphold the Constitution and guard the divine rights of all the people.