Human Rights, Recent Articles, RP App
A Christian perspective on freedom of speech
This was first published in the June 2010 issue
To say American author and columnist Ann Coulter is “outspoken” is rather like saying Solomon was “a smart fellow.” Both statements are correct, in so far as they go, but they really don’t go far enough. Ann Coulter can, in a single sentence, be brilliantly insightful and insulting, and that – along with out-of-context quotes broadcast in five-second clips on the nightly news – has made her controversial.
So when she was scheduled to speak March 23, 2010 at the University of Ottawa it was predictable that there would be protests. What wasn’t predictable was the escalation of hype and hysteria that caused the speech to be canceled. The hype was started by a letter written the previous week from the University of Ottawa’s provost, Francois Houle. He warned Coulter that she should be careful what she was going to say, or else run the risk of criminal charges.
On the evening of the 23rd a mob of two thousand students surrounded the speaking venue, preventing many from entering. Those that did get in were subjected to screams from a handful of students who also made it inside. “There were five of us in there. We were loud,” one of the students told Global TV, “It was amazing that five of us could shut it, could just have them stop speaking.” Another admitted that, “Yes that was our aim, to stop Ann Coulter from speaking.” Outside students banged on the doors while others screamed: “This is what democracy sounds like! This is what democracy looks like!”
Forty minutes after the speech was scheduled to start it was canceled over safety concerns.
There were three ironies evident that night. The first, that this happened in a country that prides itself on being polite and peace-loving. To that point Coulter had done more than 100 speeches on college campuses in the US and never before been prevented from speaking by an angry mob. That only happened in Canada.
Freedom to hear
Then there was the painful irony of many in the censorious mob insisting they were only exercising their “freedom of speech.” They misunderstood it as a freedom to screech, as if they had the right to shout down anyone they disagreed with.
But of course, freedom of speech means very little if it doesn’t also include a freedom to hear – screaming at the top of your lungs just to make sure others can’t be heard is not a form of free speech, but censorship.
Here is where the media failed us – reporters did ask the mob’s leaders why they thought they had the right to stop Coulter from speaking but the students were never asked why they thought they could stop so many others from hearing. It should have been made clear that this presumptive bunch wasn’t just stepping on one woman’s freedom to speak but rather on the freedom of hundreds to hear her.
That line of questioning would have made clear the astonishing arrogance of the mob; this was a group of twenty-something-year-old students telling people old enough to be their parents, grandparents, employers and professors that no, you might want to hear this woman, but we’ve decided we know better than you what you should hear. This line of questioning would have made it clear how condescending, how disrespectful, how elitist this group of self-appointed censors was being.
But sadly reporters never brought up the crowd’s “freedom to hear.”
The evening’s final irony was that the mob’s victims also seemed to be confused as to what free speech entails. One older woman interviewed by Global TV talked about Ann Coulter’s “right to freedom of speech” as if it were an absolute right, as if it didn’t matter what Coulter said, she should still have the right to say it.
But we know that isn’t so. There are legitimate limits to free speech. The most famous example is that you shouldn't be allowed to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater (unless there is a fire). Other legitimate restrictions include a ban on slander, libel, false advertising, and passing on state or military secrets. One student leader said Coulter had to be silenced because her speech would violate “safe spaces for students.” It was a baseless accusation (it’s her opponents, not her supporters, who cause riots) but if Coulter really did incite violence that would have been a good reason to restrict her speech.
However, while there are reasons to restrict speech, even in those instances it is the properly appointed authorities who have the right to do the restricting…not an angry mob.
Coulter’s visit to the capital revealed how confused people are about free speech. Both sides said they believed in it, but one side would only grant the freedom to people of whom they approved, while the other side seemed to be arguing for speech without restrictions – it was the censors versus the anarchists.
But if the world is confused about free speech, Christians needn't be. We support free speech for two simple reasons.
1) Free speech helps us seek the Truth
The reason free speech matters is because Truth matters. And if we are going to seek after the Truth we need to be able to talk freely. If we're going to find Truth, verify it, hold on to it and share it with others, we may just need to say all sorts of wrong, crazy, incorrect and offensive things. How is a Muslim ever going to learn the Truth if he can't first explain his incorrect understanding of Jesus? How can we preach to and debate with the atheist if he can't publicly and freely express his doubts about God's existence? Though Thomas was wrong to doubt (John 20:24-31), how could his doubts have been answered if he wasn't allowed to question whether Christ rose? And how foolish would the Bereans (Acts 17) have been if they turned Paul away without hearing him? Instead they risked hearing something offensive so they could test Paul's words against the Word, and find out if he spoke the Truth. We support free speech because it is by talking, discussing, preaching, and teaching freely that the Truth is known.
2) Censorship is most often used to oppose the Truth
Lord Acton's dictum that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is grounded in both Scripture and history. Scripture teaches us that Man is depraved and on his own cannot resist temptation (and absolute power is quite the temptation!) while history teaches us again and again that dictators are indeed corrupted by their power.
So Christians know better than to trust any king, president, prime minister, bureaucrat, panel, tribunal or judge with the awesome power of being able to decide for everyone else everything that we can and cannot read, see or hear. We can't trust that sort of near-absolute power to anyone. We learn from Scripture that we would be incredibly naive to believe we can entrust a man with such enormous power, and we learn from history that whenever broad-ranging censorship power is given, it is abused and used to suppress the Truth. The Bible, after all, remains the world's most censored book.
As Christians we know that any freedom Man is given will be misused and abused so it is certain that on some occasions people’s speech will need to be stopped. But that isn’t a path we are going to want to go down too often because we know free speech aids in the spread of the Truth.
Not everyone is so tolerant, as the incident in Ottawa shows. So let’s make use now of the freedoms we still have to speak freely about God to our neighbors, our coworkers… and maybe even to a university student or two.
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Human Rights, Pro-life - Abortion
ABILITY ≠ WORTH ....but the world thinks so, and sometimes we do too
While we were at the library one of my daughters grabbed Nice Wheels, a book featuring a boy zipping across the cover in a wheelchair. I thought it was a great choice; my children don’t know anyone in a wheelchair so this seemed like it would a good way to teach them that whether we’re standing or sitting, we’re all people. But that wasn’t the moral of this story. The author wanted to teach my daughters that our value comes from what we can do. The book begins with a wheelchair-bound boy rolling into class and a second boy wanting to know, “Can he do what we can do?” By day’s end we’ve learned that the boy in the wheelchair can sing just like everyone else, and can paint, and listen, and laugh, and eat lunch, and share like everyone else too. And as the book draws to a close the second boy decides that, shucks, if this boy in his wheelchair can do everything we can do, why not be his friend? While the author’s heart was in the right place, her thinking couldn’t be more wrong. If we’re worth befriending because we can do things, what if we can’t do things? If our value is tied to what we can do, then what of a boy who can’t sing, or paint, or eat lunch with the other kids? Comedy and tragedy The world believes that our worth is tied to our ability. That’s why we have feminists arguing that women can do anything men can do, even including all that brawny stuff. No matter that men have way more muscle, feminists won’t admit men make better firefighters, soldiers or alligator wrestlers. They can’t concede that men can do more in these areas because in their worldview that means men are more valuable than women. Feminist confusion is comical, but equating ability with worth can also be deadly. It’s this same thinking behind abortion: we can kill the unborn at 10 weeks because they can’t do this yet, or at 20 weeks because they can’t do that yet. It’s also the impetus behind legalized euthanasia: if a strong healthy young man wants to commit suicide we’ll try to stop him, but if an old man requests euthanasia because his physical and mental abilities are diminishing, well, that’s supposed to be understandable. Dripping in the church In our churches we oppose abortion and euthanasia. We know our lives are valuable even when we can’t do anything at all. We know it, but daily we manage to forget it. We tie our sense of worth to how much we make, or have donated, or to the position we hold. Or we base it on how well our kids behave, how many books we’ve read, how many invitations we do or don’t get, or how many Facebook likes we’ve collected. We know better, but we still fall for the lie that our worth is somehow tied into what we can accomplish, or earn, or achieve. There can be something appealing about this lie in the short-term, particularly just after we’ve lost 20 pounds, or scored a game-winning goal. But in the long term it all fades; relying on our own strength is a dead-end. Unearned What a blessing it is to know, then, that our value doesn’t come from our abilities. Ours is a derived worth that comes from the God in whose image we are made (Gen. 1:27, 5:1 9:6, Psalm 8:5-6). Our status also comes from God’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). But it doesn’t come from what we can do. We’re valuable because of how God made us, and because of what God commanded. So it’s all gift. Understanding that frees us from the impossible burden of trying to earn it. When we know for a fact that nothing we can give could ever be good enough for God, that frees us from worrying whether or not it will be. It frees us to simply respond in thankfulness, giving freely of ourselves and our gifts without being self-conscience about how little it is we have to offer. And understanding where our worth comes from should stop us from expecting others to earn their status. The newcomer to our church shouldn’t have to smile first before we welcome them. The lonely girl shouldn’t have to accept one of our first ten invitations before we offer her an eleventh. The awkward guy shouldn’t have to play hockey to be a part of our group. And that kid in the wheelchair doesn’t have to show he can do everything that the other boys can do before he’s worth befriending. They shouldn’t have to earn it. They can’t earn it. We can’t earn it. It’s all a gift from God....
Human Rights, Pro-life - Abortion
Abortion supporters don't believe in equality
There are two ways society views human worth. Which leads to a better society? **** In his now famous TedTalk, author Simon Sinek unlocks the secret to how the most powerful leaders shape their messages. They start with “Why?" "Your Why", says Simon, “is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do What you do." Simon illustrates with great clarity how powerful it is when leaders of any organization or movement start their message with an explanation of their purpose, their beliefs. I thought about this yesterday as I stood on the side of Main St. in Grimsby quietly participating in the Life Chain demonstration. I wondered how many of the people driving by really understood why we were there - our purpose, our belief. I wondered too if my fellow demonstrators really understood how people with opposite views on the issue of abortion can arrive hold the position they do. You can’t really take seriously the folks who drive by yelling at you and giving your kids the finger. But putting that aside for the moment, let’s be honest; demonstrations are not the most effective format for respectful and rigorous debate. They tend to polarize groups into opposing camps and do little to create empathy between people who hold different views. We’re content to consider each other crazy. However, at one point in yesterday’s hour-long demonstration a passing motorist rolled down her window and yelled to demonstrators “It’s my body, It’s my choice!” And I thought; There it is! Her “Why.” Her belief. And as horrifying as the consequences of that belief are, it struck me how perfectly logical it was that this woman might also support the idea that she has a right to end the life of another human being. There’s nothing wrong with her logic. She’s not crazy per se. She just doesn’t believe that the human growing inside her is...well, human. And that is precisely where we differ. Two views I believe that human life starts at conception. And that belief changes everything. I’m not crazy either. Far from it. Feminist author and pro-choice advocate Mary Elizabeth Williams (also a staff writer for Salon) would agree with me. In an article that Mary wrote titled “So what if abortion ends life?” she states the following: "I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life.” She goes further: "When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory....When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand.” I totally agree. Which makes Mary’s following statement so confusing. She says "And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.” How can someone believing that the fetus inside them is human still claim the right to kill it? That does sound crazy to me. 1) All life is not equal But Mary explains... "Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always." And there it is: Mary's “Why." Her belief. Mary believes that some humans are more important than others. She’s forced herself to believe that or else her pro-choice position would be, to use her own words, "illogically contradictory.” Mary also thinks she should be the one to decide whose lives, in particular, are more important and whose aren’t. And this why I (and many others) stand in silent demonstration at the corner of Main St. and Christie St. each year. 2) All are equal because all are made in God's image I believe that I am not my own (Nope. Not my body. Not my choice) ie: I do not belong to myself. Rather, I believe that in both life and in death I belong to my faithful saviour Jesus Christ. I belong to and submit to the one (and only) creator-God who made me and who alone determines the purpose of my life. Therefore I personally am not the ultimate authority on what I can or cannot do with my life or the life of others. I believe that all lives including the lives of those who stand in direct opposition to what I believe are equally sacred and worthy of protection. I believe that the protection of life is everyone’s responsibility and so also my responsibility. My purpose here on earth is to love God, love my fellow human beings and to serve them by putting their life and well-being ahead of my own. I and those who believe as I do are not fighting for self-importance or survival. We're fighting to outdo one another in kindness. I realize that we can’t make you believe what we believe. But surely you can see that we’re not crazy either. Which kind of society do you want? And to those of you who don’t quite know what you believe consider this: What kind of society do you wish to experience? What kind of society do you wish to build for your children? What kind of leaders will you choose to support and follow? Will you follow those who believe that some lives are more important than others (who believe that their lives are more important than yours perhaps)? Or will you choose to follow those who believe all lives are of equal value, and who believe that leaders should put others ahead of themselves? Simon "Start-with-why" Sinek has another book out which may help you decide. It’s called Leaders Eat Last. This choice is indeed yours. I’m praying that you’ll choose wisely. This article was first published in October 2016. Jason Bouwman is a graphic designer and author of the utterly unique book "Still Thinking" which we review right here....
Human Rights need God
Do human rights need God? Bluntly stated, it all depends on your god. Those who reject that there is a God, say human beings are responsible for their own destiny and create our own morals… and even our own rights. What the State gives the State can take away But the standard secular account of human rights is mistaken. What is widely overlooked today is that a worldview based on godless evolution cannot provide a reasonable foundation for either the universality or the permanence of human rights. How can relativism, so prevalent in the West, guarantee human rights? Philosopher Jacques Ellul properly warned us that it cannot protect "established human rights...against arbitrary power or against totalitarian definitions of right and wrong." The truth is that human rights issues are deeply religious issues and therefore the God question cannot be avoided. But won't basing human rights on God lead to a theocracy? Not if we keep in mind what belongs to God and what belongs to the State. As the church father Tertullian (c.160-230) pointed out: "Render to Caesar money. Render to God yourself. Otherwise, what will be God's, if all things are Caesar's?" In other words, the State does not bestow human rights, but it does have a duty to recognize and safeguard these rights. It must protect not only specific political rights like (like voting) but also non-political rights such as the right to worship, freedom of association, parental choice in education, and so forth. Universal human rights only make sense when they are grounded on God We can make a compelling argument in a secular society for human rights which are originally from God and finally vindicated by God. As Christians our starting point is the Bible; it is the foundation for our thoughts and actions. So does the Bible offer a working perspective of human rights? And if so, what is it? The idea of human rights is not actually mentioned anywhere in the Bible, yet it is present everywhere. In clear language the Bible speaks to us about right and wrong, about good and evil, about God's law which is finer than gold and sweeter than honey, about doing justice to the poor, the needy, the orphans, and those who have no helper, about not withholding wages of your hired laborer, about showing mercy and doing justice to foreigners and sojourners, about doing good even to your enemies. Rights come from God's prohibitions The Bible also speaks of divinely inspired duties, including the Ten Commandments, which, when taken to their ultimate conclusion, form the basis of what we today would call human rights. The commandment, "You shall not murder," teaches that human life is sacred and implies that there is a right to life. However, the Commandments are formulated as human obligations to God and not as explicitly conferring tangible rights or benefits upon humanity. That said, the Commandments do, in fact, provide a philosophical basis for putting a high value on humans. And Jesus said that human duties to God are ultimately reduced to two: Love God with one's whole being, and love others as oneself (Matt. 22:34-40). The Bible deals with human nature and with personal relationships more than with specific problems. But much of its teaching nonetheless expressly bears on public policy concerns. This is seen in the role of the Old Testament prophets. Kings were reminded of their violation of God's law that protected the rights of weaker members of their society. The prophet Nathan rebuked King David for violating the rights of Uriah (2 Sam. 12:7-10). Elijah's rebuked King Ahab for violating the right of Naboth (1 Kings 21:17-22). Both Nathan's rebuke and Elijah's rebuke were taken seriously because David and even Ahab were rulers of Israelites' society that still recognized God's law and judgment. Not from our abilities, status, or age, but from in Whose image we are made The most basic issue at stake in the concern for human rights can be phrased very simply with the question, "What is man?” The undergirding rationale for all human rights is the fact that each one of us has been created in the image of God. The Roman teacher Lactantius (c.250-325 AD) noted, "We call everyone together to the heavenly pasture, without any distinction either of sex or of age" (cf. Gal. 3:28). Each person is highly valued in the sight of God. In fact, when a person's basic right to life is violated, God's right is violated. The Bible declares that any assault on another person is taken as an assault on God Himself. And He will ultimately vindicate the innocent and punish the criminal (Gen. 9:5-6). This concept of human dignity, as well as the ideas of justice, righteousness, and human freedom (especially freedom from oppression) flows from Scripture's high view of human beings. Consequently, we insist on the universal dignity, rights, and responsibilities of all human beings. When human beings are no longer seen as God's image-bearers, they will be treated as mere objects, products of evolution, a collection of molecules. As the Christian apologist Tatian (c.160) aptly commented, "Man is not, as the croaking philosophers say, merely a rational animal, capable of understanding and knowing... Rather, man alone is the image and the likeness of God." The special status of a human being does not depend on his or her age, race, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency. Each person is made in the image of God, and endowed with dignity (Ps. 8). Each human being is, therefore, a person possessed of a dignity we are obliged to respect by virtue of being created in the likeness and image of God. And each person is both an individual and communal creature, who lives beneath God's sovereignty, answerable to his norms of justice, stewardship, and love. The right to dignity demands that we treat all human beings with dignity. This includes protecting the rights of those with whom we disagree. Rights must be tied to responsibilities In much of human rights talk today, much is said about rights to this and that – people speak of a right to free post-secondary education, or government-provided abortion – while little is said about responsibility. God makes it clear, however, that we do not have rights for rights’ sake. Rights are tied to responsibility. We must accept responsibility for what we do. Responsibility is about caring for others. And ultimately the cause of human rights is inseparably bound up with our responsibility to God (Ps.139). We cannot shirk our duty like Cain did, when he said to God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" As Ed Vanderkloet noted in his essay The Iron and the Clay in the Foundations of Human Rights: "Man is first of all responsible to his Maker; his speech, his association, and all his action must be a response to God. It is here that the Christian and the humanist world-and-life view clash. For the creed of human autonomy does not allow for the element of responsibility to a sovereign God. If man is his own master and lawgiver, he is only responsible to himself." Why do human rights so often get violated? Why are human rights so often violated? Why can't the "reasoned intentions of all men of goodwill" bring about public justice and the renewal of society? Why can’t we all just get along? This sometimes seems to be a bit of a mystery to non-Christians. But we know the reason: Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Sin now disrupts the good order and harmony of God's creation. The curse of sinful transgression, of the broken covenant, and of the estrangement from God, fellowmen, and the world, now hangs over all human relationships. But the fall could not and did not destroy our responsibility to God. God maintains his righteous claims upon us even in a broken world. Do human rights need God? Yes, as only God can counter human sin. In becoming Man, Christ showed how much God values Man At the heart of the Christian view of human rights is Jesus Christ. He is God's answer for fallen human beings. In the midst of history is the cross, the liberating power of his resurrection, and his glorious ascension to a position of regal authority. There is no righteousness apart from Him. In Christ God became man and as the God-man, the long-awaited Messiah, He reveals perfectly the divine image (Col. 1:15), restoring the image of God in us. The doctrine of the Incarnation demonstrates the ultimate worth of human beings (John 3:16). Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully human, concretely lived in the midst of time and space. Through Jesus, the New Testament shows God's interest in people from all segments of society – Jesus demonstrated respect to the outcasts of society. So how do we practice true (James 1:26-27) religion? We turn to the Bible. It is the Word of Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He is the Way we are to walk, the Truth we are to believe, the Life we are to live. The apostle Paul exhorts us to fulfill "the law of Christ," which means assuming the obligation "to bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:2). The claims of love are at the heart of the "law of Christ.” As Justin Martyr observed, "All of us pray for you, and for all men, as our Christ and Lord taught us to do. For He commanded us to pray even for our enemies, and to love those who hate us, and to bless those who curse us." Will we ever gain a world where all human rights are perfectly respected? The Bible is clear. A perfect world will only come when our Lord returns. With one eye scanning the clouds, watchful for our Lord's return, we are to fix our other eye on the needs of our fellow image-bearers around the world. Therefore, here and now we do what is right in God's sight. And Christ entrusts the Church with the great commission as the supreme "declaration of human rights" – the right and responsibility of all people to hear and believe the gospel, and the right and responsibility of his disciples to proclaim it (Matt.28: 18-20). The Church's role The Church is the community of saints from every nationality, class, and race. As public light, salt, and leaven, she can make a positive contribution to human rights, showing concern for the public good. As she presents the Gospel of salvation to a spiritually lost world, she has also the task to equip the people of God, both personally and communally, to serve as fervent advocates of justice, peace, and compassion in every sector of life. And the Church has a unique position in the world. When one part of the Church suffers, there will be voices of encouragement from other parts; when another part of the Church becomes too comfortable with status and power, a word of admonition will be forthcoming. And the Church has made a difference for the good in many parts of the world. For all the ambiguities, foibles, and outright betrayal of Christianity's own best principles, the Word and Deed Gospel has opened the door to the development of dynamic pluralistic democracies which protect human rights of both persons and groups. The record shows that the Church opened her heart to the needy, cared for the poor and hungry, ministered to the enslaved and imprisoned, established orphanages and centers of learning, generated movements for societal reform, offered diaconal assistance, and sponsored programs of world relief. Already in the first centuries of the Christian era, the Church sought the public good. For example, Lactantius wrote, "It is an equally great work of justice to protect and defend orphans and widows who are destitute and stand in need of assistance. Therefore, the divine law commands this to everyone." Christians opposed and condemned the culturally imbedded custom of child abandonment. The 2nd-century Church father Clement of Alexandria condemned the Romans for saving and protecting young birds and other creatures while lacking moral compunctions about abandoning their own children. But the early Christians did more than condemn child abandonment. They frequently took these child castaways into their homes and adopted them. Despite all the persecutions suffered, they did not relent in promoting the sanctity of human life. Their persistent efforts eventually paid off. When Emperor Valentinian outlawed infanticide in 374, he also criminalized child abandonment. Conclusion Do human rights need God? Yes. The infallible Scripture of the Triune God gives shape to human rights issues. Human rights in the biblical perspective are rights given by the grace of God, recalling us to our task to make things right in this world just as Zacchaeus did: " If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold" (Luke 19:8). As believers in the pursuit of human rights, we must maintain an independent prophetic voice. As Vanderkloet noted: "We should realize that the humanist and Christian concepts of justice and rights are as incompatible as iron and clay....To build our political order on a foundation of those ingredients is acting like the man who built his house upon the sand. Such foundations will crumble and cause the collapse of the structure when the winds and floods of new ideologies arise and beat against it." Rev. Johan Tangelder (1936-2009) wrote for Reformed Perspective for 13 years and many of his articles have been collected at ReformedReflections.ca. A version of this article first appeared in the June 2008 issue....
The foundation of Human Rights? God's prohibitions
Human rights. A noble phrase, to be sure. But in a godless world, there are no rights, because a human right, to be a right, must demonstrate an authority greater than the authority of the state. This is why in a fascist state there are no rights, because there is no authority recognized as being superior to the state. Where there are only the edicts of the state, there are no rights, only privileges and crimes: privileges the state grants (and can take away) and crimes it forbids. Rights, privileges and crimes all have similar natures. They all spring from prohibitions. Take the edict “you shall not commit the crime of murder.” The crime is defined by a prohibition on human behavior. Similarly, the right to life springs from the Godly prohibition on human behavior found in the commandment “thou shall not murder.” This is the common nature between crimes, privileges, and rights. However, when the state respects no authority greater than the state (fascism), rights become nothing more than privileges that are granted by the state. Only when the state recognizes Divine Authority is there an opportunity for human rights. On crimes: The state typically defines crimes in two general categories: mala in se, and mala prohibita. Mala in se are crimes that are inherently evil, like murder. Mala prohibita are crimes only because the state says they are, like, for example, going 55 miles/hr in a 40 miles/hr zone. The state which fails to recognize Divine Authority cannot declare crimes mala in se, - inherently evil – because there can be no good and evil without the recognition of a moral order superior to the state. Likewise, a state which fails to recognize Divine Authority can make no claim to the “rule of law” rather than the “rule of edict.” The rule of law implies that members of the ruling class can be held accountable to a standard which has greater authority than the state. When the state recognizes no authority superior to the state, there is no law – there is only tyranny. On privileges: The state typically grants privileges under two general categories: grants based on the pragmatic effect of the privilege (weighing the degree to which the privilege will do the most good for the greatest amount of people), or grants based on feudal relationships. Feudal societies are present now in most western countries, most Marxist countries, and virtually all dictatorships. Under feudalism, your rights are based upon who you know, not on equal status under the rule of law. However, for some unknown reason, the people behind the granting of privileges have a need to establish some basis for each grant, and usually, these bases are set forth within their roster of privileges. By setting forth reasons, the granting of privileges doesn’t appear to be what it actually is: the exercise of naked force. For instance, the Preamble of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares the foundations for the “rights” proclaimed therein as: the declaration of the international family of governments (we say it is so) the proclamation of the common people (the common people say it is so, at least so much of their opinion that we were actually willing to listen to) the necessity to create the rule of law in order to stop rebellion (the pragmatic reason) faith in equal human rights and human dignity (patronizing the religious community with a “faith” statement that is otherwise patent nonsense, since there are no human rights or human dignity under secular humanism). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by a mere majority of the general assembly of the United Nations, with the Soviet bloc and Saudi Arabia abstaining. Because the vote was not unanimous, the declaration is not even “global” let alone “universal.” Furthermore, because it makes no claim to Divine Authority, it is setting out only a roster of privileges. Further still, it is non-binding on all of the member states. Consequently, calling the document a Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a patent lie. In reality, it is merely the Advisory Declaration of a Majority of the UN General Assembly as to preferred government-granted privileges. The Canadian Human Rights Act is modeled on this Universal Declaration, adopting similar class distinctions. Initially, the Canadian Human Rights Act did not protect people on the basis of their sexual orientation, while the Universal Declaration did. The CHRA was subsequently amended by judicial fiat to encompass this group. On human rights: As I have said, the commonality among crimes, privileges, and rights, is that they spring from prohibitions on human interaction. Crimes and privileges are proscribed by the actions of the state, although quite often that state will call the privileges they grant “rights” when in fact, the edict itself is a tort or even a crime (anti-discrimination legislation which claims to set forth a “human right” is in fact a civil wrong when the sanction is a fine, and a crime when the sanction includes incarceration). Privileges may approach actual rights only when they correctly (that is to say, rightly) identify the right as pronounced within the Godly order (such as the right to worship freely), but when such “rights” are granted by the state – and therefore subject to revocation – they are not rights; rather, they are state-granted privileges. Consider how far we have strayed from this understanding. In 2006, the governing Socialists in Spain submitted a bill to grant “human rights” to four species of animals. The species were chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans: the so-called “great apes” or “pongids.” The Spanish government sought to attach “human” rights to apes by edict of the state, apparently because they believe that apes are human too. Human rights spring from prohibitions on human behavior. The right to free speech – a trait indigenous only to humans - for instance, springs from the prohibition on the government to act contrary to free speech. God-given rights Now, consider the Godly prohibitions set forth in Exodus 20: I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shall have no other gods before me. Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shall not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shall not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shall not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God gives thee. Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery. Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s. It is from this roster (although this is not an exclusive list) that our “human rights” spring. Let me stress here that we have no “right” as opposed to the will of God – He is the author of our faith, our salvation and our rights. But from this roster, human rights accrue to us because if God has prohibited it, who is man to overrule? We therefore have a right to hold our God as superior to all other proposed gods, including the state, the financial system, the school system, the dollar, consumerism, capitalism, Marxism, fascism, communism, socialism, and so forth. God has commanded us to have no God before him; we therefore have a God-given right to be free from the state placing itself above God. From the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the modern world, there is a failure of certain leaders to recognize that it is God who establishes powers and authorities on earth according to His purpose. As Nebuchadnezzar put it: “I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that lives forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:34-35). By means of the prohibition in the Second Commandment, we obtain the human right to reject idol worship. No state has yet to recognize this right, yet Germans had a God-ordained right not to worship the idol of Nazism. Russians had a God-ordained right not to worship the idol of Vladimir Lenin. Americans have a God-ordained right not to worship pagan idols. Canadians have a God-ordained right not to worship secular humanism. All of us in the modern world have a God-ordained right not to worship the religions of mother earth, the sun, the solstice, science or Darwinism. We have a God-ordained right to reject idols. And so it goes. We have a right to be free from adultery. We have a right to own our property and to be free from theft. How broad is the right to property? The Tenth Commandment declares that we have a right to any thing that is ours. This includes our marriages, our families, our employment relationships, our intellectual property, our real property and our personal property. Thou shall not steal, and thou shall not covet. It is from these prohibitions that we claim God’s ordination of our right to property. Right to life But let us take a moment to discuss the right to life. God says, thou shall not kill. The Hebrew term used in this instance is rashach (to intentionally kill a human being) rather than the term shachat (to take the life of an animal or human). This prohibition creates the right to be free from murder – the right to be free from someone intentionally taking your life. This is the source of our God-ordained right to life. We must obtain the sense of this, because there can be no question that the rising international state is concluding quickly that there are too many people on earth, who are eating too much food, using too much oil and creating too many “greenhouse gases.” Unless the state is reminded that there is an authority to which the state will ultimately answer, their solution, which is almost always death, will soon be upon us, particularly when they conclude that your right to life is merely a state-granted privilege – one that they gave, and one that they can take away. This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the July/August 2008 issue....