"There has never been an anti-American movement in the United States that did not, in one form or another, appeal to the Declaration of Independence. Communists base their right to destroy democracy on the Declaration of Independence; monopolistic capitalists invoke it to escape even a just government supervision for the common good; the so-called Progressive educators appeal to it to mold children independently of religion; spurious defenders of civil liberties tearfully quote it to justify every attack upon the foundations of liberty; in a word, the Declaration of Independence has come to mean for a group of our citizens nothing other than independence of authority, law, and order.
In these days when everyone talks of rights and few of duties, it is important for us Americans to recall that the Declaration of Independence is also a Declaration of Dependence. The Declaration of Independence asserts a double dependence: dependence on God, and dependence on law as derived from God.
Where do we get our rights of free speech? Where do we get freedom of conscience? Whence is derived the right to own property? Do we get these rights and liberties from the State? If we did, the State could take them away. Do we get them from the Federal Government in Washington? If we did, the Federal Government could take them away. Whence comes the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
Read the Declaration of Independence and there find the answer: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Notice these words: The Creator has endowed men with rights and liberties; men got them from God! In other words, we are dependent on God, and that initial dependence is the foundation or our independence.
Suppose we interpret independence, as some liberal jurists do, as independence of God; then rights and liberties come either from the State, as Bolshevism contends, or from the Dictators, as Nazism and Fascism believe. But if the State or the Dictator is the creator of rights, then the State or the Dictator can dispossess men of their rights. That is why in those countries where God is most denied, man is most tyrannized, and where religion is most persecuted, man is most enslaved. It is only because we are dependent on God that we are independent as persons from the total will of any man on earth."
~ Fulton J. Sheen: A Declaration of Dependence, 1941 (page 121).
Crossposted at Wizbang.