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Property Rights and Religious Liberty

Hillsdale_college.jpegExcellent and detailed explanation by Dr Larry P. Arnn,
President, Hillsdale College, of the importance of our property rights to protect our religious, and by extension all, of our God given rights.

An eerily prescient sentenced jumped out at me: "The fifth book of Aristotle’s Politics teaches us that tyrants seek to wear down every excellence in society and to obstruct friendships, especially friendships among the best people, on the principle that if they degrade everyone then people will submit." (emphasis added)

Select, salient, excepts:

Pope Francis is one who sometimes seems to be an example of the Christian who reads the New Testament as pointing in the direction of socialism. Commerce appears, in some of his writings and speeches, to be a grubby business purely based on self-interest—maybe even on exploitation, the opposite of charity. This reading of the New Testament—which I think flawed, by the way—is why Karl Marx, 

although he was famously an atheist and militantly opposed to Christianity, praised Christianity in one respect: that it declaimed against private property in the name of an otherworldly denial of self.

Today in America we can see as well that at the heart of the leftward movement in our government is a claim against property. The claim goes this way: the divisions among us are as deep as they are because of economic inequality, and if we do not address that inequality today, it will worsen tomorrow. Many well-meaning Christians think this way.

 

Thus he (Karl Marx) makes clear in the Communist Manifesto that overthrowing the age-old institution of property will involve as well “the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” If private property is going to be abolished, everything will have to be abolished. Marriage and religion are two prominent examples in Marx’s writings.

The President has altered his position about the nature of marriage, and now the enforcement of a new understanding of gender identity is pressed upon us through powerful means, both legal and social.

 

 Along the same lines, the U.S. Secretary of Education recently said that there are so many broken homes in the inner city—broken families that are subsidized of course by government policy—that we are going to have to think about building dormitories in which to raise the children.

the idea that if we put experts at the center we can make things more rational, and poverty and strife and envy can at last be mitigated.

 

 James Madison wrote an essay on property in 1792 in which he connects property rights to all human rights, including freedom of religion, speech, and the press. Madison defines property as “every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right, and which leaves to every one else the like advantage” (emphasis in original)—the italicized words distinguish the natural rights of the Declaration of Independence from the kind of rights proclaimed by socialism, such as the right to a guaranteed income or to free education, which by definition make claims on the property of others.  (emphasis added)...a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them. He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.

LARRY P. ARNN is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. From 1977 to 1980, he also studied at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he served as director of research for Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. From 1985 until his appointment as president of Hillsdale College in 2000, he was president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. He is the author of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American EducationThe Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution; and Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government .

The article is adapted from a speech delivered on October 16, 2015, in Omaha, Nebraska, at a Free Market Forum sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Center for the Study of Monetary Systems and Free Enterprise. 

 

 

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Property Rights and Religious Liberty
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