Historical Lessons: Has America learned or are we doomed to repeat it?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."George Santayana, philosopher and poet

I have recently read and heard political leaders and writers who have expressed concern regarding our democratic form of government.  In one instance, presidential candidate Ron Paul was quoted as warning that the United States is “slipping into a fascist system where it’s a combination of government and big business and authoritarian rule and the suppression of individual rights of each and every American citizen.”       

While some commentators think that this statement is too extreme, there can be no question that our individual liberties are, in fact, eroding.  In a similar vein, I have recently read comparisons of the progression that is occurring in the United States to the progression that occurred in Nazi Germany.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the world watched in horror as Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany, sought dominion throughout Europe, and orchestrated one of the most deadly genocides then known to mankind.  It is easy to look back at history from our vantage point and ask: Where were the German Christians, and why didn’t they confront this tragedy en masse?  Why didn’t they do more to protect life, individual rights, and religious liberty?

We must ask ourselves these very questions now, or generations to come may look back at this very time in history and ask: Why did my parents, grandparents and other Christians silently allow the government to take away our individual liberties?  Why didn’t the Christian Church take a coordinated public stand in defense of religious liberty?

I am not saying that our government is akin to Adolf Hitler and his murderous regime.  However, the suppression of individual liberties in America today, like the suppression of individual liberties in Germany before the war, can only be accomplished when the conscientious citizens of this Nation are silent and do nothing.

In the early 1930s, when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he stated his belief that Christianity was the “unshakeable foundation of the moral and ethical life of our people,” yet the ultimate ideals of the National Socialist movement were hostile towards religion.  Leading into the Holocaust, Hitler instituted a plan to strip away the religious liberties of German citizens.

Hitler slowly eroded the rights of the Christian Church—he permitted a remnant of worship but eliminated the church’s cultural influence.  After signing a concordant with the Catholic Church and establishing the German Christian Church (which upheld Nazi principles), Hitler and his administration gradually began to suppress the rights of Evangelical Christians and Catholics—ending denominational and youth organizations, prohibiting denominational schools, and widely defaming and imprisoning clergy of the Christian Church who refused to be silent about the truth.  The goal was to get the German people away from the Church’s conservative beliefs and on board with the Nazi’s radical plan of racism and aggressive warfare.

In modern day America, we often hear our leaders voice a shallow reverence toward our Christian heritage, while the actions of those same leaders show little respect for our heritage.   Even though our current administration has stated a belief in the faith of our Founding Fathers and the importance of religious liberty, many of its actions undermine the rights of religious institutions.

Most recently, “Obamacare” requires all businesses, including many religious organizations, to provide birth control and sterilization services free of charge to employees.  When the Catholic Church, whose teachings prohibit the use of any type of birth control, spoke out against this policy, President Obama offered a feeble “compromise,” saying the insurance company (instead of the church or religious business) would pay for the birth control.  But who ultimately pays the insurance company in the end?

We see an increasing progression of hostility by governmental officials and media toward Christians for expressing their faith in the public arena.  Christian student groups, such as the Christian Legal Society, are banned from recognition on campuses.  Christian groups are banned from using public facilities.  The so-called “separation of church and state” is beat like a war drum by governmental officials while the IRS threatens religious organizations with removal of tax exempt status for taking a stand on political issues.

Even our “war on terror” has adopted an alarming perspective.  A new report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued in January 2012, details what activity to look for in a potential terrorist through its campaign titled “If You See Something, Say Something.”  The campaign encourages Americans to report suspicious behavior which includes the following characteristics: fiercely nationalistic, reverent of individual liberty, anti-abortion, speaking out against government policies, holding gold, and stocking up on more than 7 days of food.

My point is that we must not succumb to a hopeless attitude when our God-given, inalienable liberties are being eliminated by our government.  This is why we fight for our clients and against policies that limit our individual and religious liberties—because we believe that if we don’t take action now, there may be a time in the future when it is too late to fight.

Please take courage and make your stand now—in the voting booth, in the public square, at work, and in your schools.  Raise the awareness and cherish your liberty!

Robert Tyler, General Counsel

This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts!  To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.