“Conscience is the most sacred of all property”

Or: James Madison weighs in on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act!

On her facebook page today, Tara Ross quoted from a column written by Madison in 1792. She connected his words on property to religious objections people have had to Obamacare, but as I was reading, I thought immediately of the uproar this week over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

You can read Madison’s brief column at the Heritage Foundation.

Then-Congressman James Madison’s newspaper essay on property emphasizes that word’s wide-ranging meaning, which covers not just land and buildings but opinions, conscience, and rights….

The notion that the Founders were obsessed with property as material possessions is an unfortunate legacy of Marxist historians such as Charles Beard….

This conception of property as rights and thus the ability to acquire, opine, and think would lead to a flourishing of individual talents and a dynamic and prosperous society. Thus, any attack on property rights also assails what Madison called “the most sacred of all property”—conscience—and the property right in “the safety and liberty of [one’s] person.”

James Madison

National Gazette
March 29, 1792

This term in its particular application means “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.

In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.

In the latter sense, 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….

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.

According to this standard of merit, the praise of affording a just securing to property, should be sparingly bestowed on a government which, however scrupulously guarding the possessions of individuals, does not protect them in the enjoyment and communication of their opinions, in which they have an equal, and in the estimation of some, a more valuable property.

More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government, where a man’s religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy. Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact….

If there be a government then which prides itself in maintaining the inviolability of property; which provides that none shall be taken directly even for public use without indemnification to the owner, and yet directly  violates the property which individuals have in their opinions, their religion, their persons, and their faculties; nay more, which indirectly  violates their property, in their actual possessions, in the labor that acquires their daily subsistence, and in the hallowed remnant of time which ought to relieve their fatigues and soothe their cares, the influence [inference?] will have been anticipated, that such a government is not a pattern for the United States.

If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments.

James Madison signature


James Madison signature: Raeky. (CC BY-SA 3.0), GFDL: Version 1.2 or any later version published by FSF.

Pro-Life Leaders Arrested Outside Boehner’s Office

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, President of Operation Rescue Troy Newman, and former nurse Jill Stanek, known for her testimony for BAIPA (Born Alive Infant Protection Act) were among those arrested in the hall outside the office of Speaker of the House John Boehner on Wednesday as they protested lack of action on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

A vote on the Pain-Capable bill had been promised for January 22nd, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but it was derailed by a group led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN). Pro-life advocates were angered that Boehner pulled it at the last minute, and since then they have been waiting to see what action House leadership would take. None has been forthcoming, and so this protest was planned. Mahoney and Newman had these remarks:

“The pro-life community in the midterm elections spent hours manning phones, walked hundreds of miles passing out literature, donated millions of dollars to candidates to give Speaker Boehner the historic majority he has in the House today,” Mahoney said. “And for all that incredible hard work, we were promised on January 22 that a vote would be held banning abortions after 20 weeks. On the eve of the Roe v. Wade memorial, that vote was shelved.”

“We were told yesterday that this is the most pro-life Congress that has ever been installed,” Newman added. “And yet a ban on late-term abortions – which the vast majority of Americans believe should be passed immediately – has languished in the House.”

The photo of protestors at Renee Ellmer’s office in January indicate they were more numerous than yesterday, yet none were arrested. Katie Mahoney said, “They know we’re coming. We met with Boehner’s office last week.” Today, however, after giving statements and offering prayers, the protestors were arrested.

Exclusive Interview: Jill Stanek Explains Her Protest and Arrest at Speaker Boehner’s Office

Jill Stanek: …As a registered nurse, my purpose for being there has to do with my testimony of holding a 21 week-old abortion survivor until he died. He would have been saved by an abortion ban such as this bill.

I’m upholding his memory and reminding these Republicans who are dithering for whatever reason – that while they do this, babies are dying excruciating deaths every day. Trying to reorient this discussion to the babies is my reason for talking….

We have two goals today. First of all, in our own way we want to pressure the GOP leadership in the House to present the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act for a vote. From various sources on Capitol Hill, I have heard that we have already had an impact. There really wasn’t any particular rush felt on this issue, and now there is. The other goal is to reorient this discussion back to the babies, who are literally being drawn and quartered on a daily basis. People don’t seem to have any sense of urgency about making that stop.

Bound4LIFE: Your team is billing this as a sit-in/pray-in. Why prayer?

Jill Stanek: That’s what sets us apart from other protests. We are Christians first, called to defend the defenseless and be a voice for the voiceless.

This isn’t a Sharpton-esque sort of venture; we are entering into this with a lot of thought and prayer….

In my remarks today, I’ll speak about holding an aborted baby at Christ’s Hospital in Illinois – the baby that became the reason for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was introduced in the Illinois State Legislature. As a state senator, Barack Obama voted against that bill four times.

You know, I expect that from Democrats. But we shouldn’t expect Republicans to covertly block pro-life legislation – because they’re afraid or not invested in the issue beyond simple “I’m pro-life” platitudes. Many of them are also not very cogent on life issues, as we’ve seen the past few years. Their job isn’t just to introduce pro-life bills and vote on them: they have to sell the American people on why we value life. If they haven’t done anything on this at the three-month mark, on April 22 we are going to come back with a bigger crowd.

I have several remaining questions. Why were the protestors in January not arrested and those who were there yesterday were? Boehner had advance knowledge of the protest—why did he allow things to come to such an impasse today? Did he think they were bluffing? Did he hope they would protest, be arrested, and quietly go away? I do know the spotlight was brighter in January with thousands of pro-life marchers in D.C.

I’ve been reading Jill Stanek’s blog for years, and the 20-weeks marker of the Pain-Capable bill brings her back full circle to the aborted-alive baby she held who started her on her pro-life activism. She exposed that practice of letting babies who survived abortion die without medical treatment, testifying in Illinois and in Washington, D.C., and was a driving force in the passage of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, going toe to toe against Obama when he was in the Illinois legislature. She took on Obama, and I don’t expect her to let up on Boehner.

The Marriage Storm

The wind is already whipping through the trees. The lightning and thunder of the storm in our nation about marriage has begun. As surely as rapidly falling pressure in a barometer tells you to get ready for a deluge, the trend of events in the last few years is telling you to be ready for intensifying conflict over what marriage is and growing attacks on those who defend marriage as it has been been defined and recognized across time and across cultures: a relationship between a man and a woman.

How should we get ready for this storm that is upon us?

1. Understand what marriage is, and the consequences of redefining marriage. Keep talking about and discussing marriage.

2. Understand and learn more about how propaganda works. Recognize how propaganda has been used by activists to persuade people about redefining marriage and the family.

3. Notice the trend in events within government and news. Recognize the attacks and persecution that has already begun against those who defend marriage and who consistently live out their Christian beliefs about marriage.

4. Discuss marriage with people in your church. Be ready to help those you know whose livelihood is threatened because of their beliefs regarding marriage.

5. Enjoy and cherish the relationships you have. Be faithful within your own family. Love your spouse. Love your children and watch over them. Love and live at peace as you are able with your extended family. And with those who disagree with us: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I will be writing more on each of the above five points to help with information and analysis of this unavoidable storm that is upon us. Two years ago Erick Erickson wrote You Will Be Made To Care.

…That is the point of most everything I’ve written this week. I guess I’ve been too obtuse. Let me make it clear for you — you will be required to care. Gay rights advocates on the steady march toward and past gay marriage will make you care. They will not give you room to sit on the fence….

The left will allow no fence sitting. You may not believe me. You may think me hyperbolic. But the history of the world shows this. Events ultimately come to a head. They boil to their essence. And at that point you must choose.*

Through the coming days we must support and help each other, and remember:

For You have been a defense for the helpless,
A defense for the needy in his distress,
A refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat;
For the breath of the ruthless
Is like a rain storm against a wall.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Image: Rainer Knäpper, Free Art License
*If you read Erick’s post, let me make it clear that I think this main point is on target, but I do not agree with some of the details within the piece. “You Will Be Made To Care,” has become a theme in his writing. Later posts are here, here, and here.

Super Bowl XLIV and “The Rest Of The Story”

In 2010 a Super Bowl ad angered the Left before it was even aired because Pam Tebow would be in it with her son, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Why? You may remember the background to the ad: Pam and her husband Bob had been missionaries in the Philippines when Pam came down with amoebic dysentery and went into a coma. Medication was given before the doctors were aware she was pregnant. It was stopped, but she was still advised to abort the baby because doctors thought the baby had already been harmed by the drugs she had been given and that she herself might not survive the pregnancy. Pam refused to have an abortion, and the baby, Tim, was born in August 1987, not only healthy, but a baby who grew up to win the Heisman.

Well, the ad ran—an interview with Bob and Pam Tebow was online—and the ad was funny and sweet and Pam’s “miracle baby” Tim was there being a pro-life ad by his very existence. Thanks to the publicity given to it by the Left millions knew about the ad ahead of time and were waiting to see it.

I thought you might be interested in this follow-up to the ad! Thursday morning at Jill Stanek‘s site I found a video and a link to A Super Bowl Blessing at Focus On The Family.

Five years ago, Susan went to a friend’s house to watch the Super Bowl. She was pregnant, scared and alone. That night, she watched Focus on the Family’s commercial featuring Tim Tebow, and her life would never be the same….

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Turn and face the strange.

You ever feel as if you’d had to face the strange just one too many times? I love that line from David Bowie’s song, “Changes.” Since 2008 I think I’ve done nothing but exactly that.

At the end of summer that year our daughter had just graduated from college and our son from high school. I anticipated down time and uneventful days. Then in September of 2008 the economy crashed, and the bottom began to fall out of our lives. My husband’s new business stalled out, and despite our efforts to keep it going he had to shut it down. I know others faced the same strange as businesses closed and empty store fronts multiplied.

We moved towards the end of 2009, and looking for work became a full time job. If you’ve been there, then you know the up-and-down disjointed journey of resumes, applications, and interviews. We went to workshops to sharpen our job seeking skills, and became experts at shuffling paragraphs in cover letters to match qualifications to job openings. Competition was stiff in our town, and it was a long slogging haul with some severe—to put it mildly—disappointments. Continue reading