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Book review: 'Believers, Thinkers, and Founders' examines concept of God in government

Posted May 16

"BELIEVERS, THINKERS, AND FOUNDERS: How We Came to be One Nation Under God," by Kevin Seamus Hasson, Image, $20, 240 pages (nf)

In his new book, “Believers, Thinkers, and Founders: How We Came to be One Nation Under God,” Kevin Seamus Hasson takes a serious look at the perceived conflict between religious language in the Declaration of Independence and the rights of religious freedom as viewed by many secularists.

One of Hasson’s first principles is that the Declaration of Independence includes rights that are given by the “self-evident Creator” to every individual. While many define that as being God, there are others who have a different interpretation based on their own reason, he writes, adding that regardless of definition, it is the duty of the state to secure the rights designated, but the identified rights themselves are, according to the declaration, given by the Creator. While some may see government destroying individual rights, Hasson surmises that “the state can, and too often does, violate our rights. But that’s the worst it can do.”

Hasson proposes that this recognition of a higher power, expressed often by the Founding Fathers and others, indicates that they believed government is to protect the inalienable rights of man. Hasson writes that these freedoms, whether considered religious or not, are given by a higher power or Creator who seeks safety for all, and that to think the government is in the business of granting such rights would place unearned authority in the hands of fallible beings.

Tracing the roots of the freedoms and rights given by the Founding Fathers, Hasson carefully outlines why it is appropriate for the government to protect the recognition of God as written in the Declaration of Independence. The author’s intent is not to create a world where religion is forced on all. Instead, he proposes that the fundamental right of belief in the Creator found in the Declaration of Independence can coexist with whatever a person believes about God in his or her own personal creed without destroying the right to practice religion.

Hasson is the founder and president emeritus of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He lives with his wife and children in Fairfax County, Virginia.

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