The United States has waged two major wars in less than fifty years for the preservation of the democratic ideal and personal freedom. The nation has successfully fended off the repeated threats of totalitarianism. It has demonstrated that it is able to cope with enemies from without, including the prtesent threat of Communism.
It is, however, a different story with enemies from within. Freedom and liberty are suffering from within today. Corrosion has set in and has been insiduously chipping away at the foundation of democracy the past three or four decades. Under the pretense of social enlightenment and progress, individual freedom has suffered many a crippling blow. The outcries against the corrosion and loss of personal liberty have gone unheeded. To add insult to injury, many of those who are zealous in the cause of preserving liberty and freedom are being labeled radicals and obstructionists.
Apathy toward the forces that have been undermining liberty and freedom is widespread and alarmingly so. Therein lies the greatest threat to our way of life as it was in the days of the Founding Fathers. We are gradually reaping what has been sown. Perhaps we deserve the regimentation under which we find ourselves.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." That is food for serious thought. The value of freedom isn't appreciated today as it was even thirty or forty years ago.
The social and economic picture today is almost the diametrical opposite of what it wa snot long ago. We have gone downhill rapidly as far as the cherished American ideals are concerned. Creeping socialism began raising its ugly head with the rise of "big government" back in the early thirties. The federal government began doing for the people what the people should be doing. Bureaucracy, under the guise of beneficence, took over. Federal laws were passed and regulations formulated by bureaucrats that since have changed our entire social and economic structure, with the loss of individual liberty and freedom for all except the bureaucrats. They have become the oppressors of the people.
Some of the murmurings about the growth of "big government" and the risk this might entail in loss of personal freedom were not taken seriously. The role of the federal government wasn't at first pervasive. Some of the federal laws and regulations were to be only temporary measures, necessitated by the depression of the early '30's. Few worried about the direction the federal government was taking at the time.
The situation is different today. It is alarmingly different.
The survival of individual freedom is in critical jeopardy. We may still free express ourselves and voice criticisms of the powers that be, but it has little, if any, remedial effect. The bureaucratic juggernaut keeps right on rolling.
The businessman today is less free than he was. He has been put into an economic straightjacket by a multitude of bureaucratic regulations, some of which are as rediculous as they are needless. He is, to a large extent, working for the government without pay. Because of the confiscatory taxes the government demands of him, his initiative and enterprise have seriously suffered.
The farmer today is less free than he was. He is regimented by programs and bureaucratic regulations that have added tremendously to the tax burden of businessmen, wage-earners and property owners. He is not allowed to help himself without being penalized.
And if Section 14b of the Taft-Hartley Act is repealed, the laboring man will be tragically less free. He will be forced to join a uion and pay dues, whether he weants to or not, to exercise his God-given right to work. Shades of dictatorship! [Presently, under the authoritarian-bent Obama Administration, there are bills, it is my understanding, to deny workers secret ballots, and unions are big supporters of the Obama Administration and are demanding the end of secret balloting which insures the worker against coercion by the union; I also understand that strenuous efforts are also being made to unionize companies through legislation without regard to democratic procedures, forcing unionization workers whether they want unions or not; rapidly, the right to work without unionizatin is being withdrawn in American work places as the unions take steps to bring the federal government powers to bear on their behalf.--Ed.]
Disturbing in the midst of all this is that many young people today have only a foggy notion of what freedom is all about.
This is demonstrated poignantly by a recent poll which found that 25% of the young people approve police searches without warrants; 41% are agreeable to cancelling freedom of the press, radio, and television; more than half believe in government ownership of banks, railroads and steel companies; and 84% reject the whole idea of patriotism as an important part of their lives.
The church, irrespective of denomination, has much at stake in the erosion of personal freedom. The diluting and eventual loss of political, economic, and social liberty, inevitably brings with it loss of religious liberty. It would seem that it behooves the church to speak out and to take a leading part in restoring personal freedom and liberty. An unalterable fact of life is that "where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (II Corinthians 3:17)