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Mr. PEARCE. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his work on the Prayer Caucus. I would also acknowledge my good friend, Mike McIntyre, for his work. This idea of religious freedom and liberty is indeed a bipartisan issue.
Our Founding Fathers came here from countries that had monarchs--kings--kings that could tell a person who they were to marry, what job they could have, what level of education they might attain. They could tell you what church you must be a member of. It was those state-ordained religions that many came to this country to get away from. They came here with an idea of a government that could only declare what your freedoms were, not limit those freedoms. It was that freedom of religion that caused many of the colonies to be organized differently, by different faiths--and some by no faith at all. It was in that backdrop that the Constitution was written which caused our Founding Fathers great pause.
The initial Constitution was written and could not be ratified. It could not be ratified by enough States until more freedoms were added, more freedoms that began with the First Amendment to the Constitution, the amendment that declared that we would have religious freedoms, that the government could make no laws concerning those freedoms.
Our Founding Fathers well understood the value of free and open expression of religious faith, one that was free from the tentacles of government, one that was free for each person to choose, to exercise or to not exercise. Our Founding Fathers were not hesitant to declare their reliance on divine guidance.
Shortly after our Revolution--that revolution of ideas that started this grand experiment of self-governance--it was amazing that France decided they would try the same thing. But they were oh so uncertain about this divine guidance, this relationship with a higher power; and so they wanted something more tangible.
Their revolution became about reason. The problem with reason was that it was a human-ordained institution. We ourselves, we as people would not acknowledge that we were to comply with a higher power. That reliance on reason among men resulted in the chaos that became the French Revolution. It never found the success that the American Revolution had. I believe that much of that failure--and much of our success--was the difference in reliance, that difference of internal commitment to values and rules outside oneself.
Our Founding Fathers well understood that we, in order to have a Republic, must be a moral Nation. They declared that a Republic or democracy--whichever you would call it--can't impose through tremendous tyrannical restraints. It depends on us having a voluntary compliance with laws.
They feared a Federal Government that was too strong. The Constitution repeatedly limits the power of the Federal Government because they knew what strong centralized governments would do. They had to escape from Europe to get away from those exact things.
Today, we find a central government that is willing to compromise our freedom of religion and the freedom of expression of religion. Whether a person has a religious belief or not, it should cause you concern that this government is willing to take away the conscience protections. To make people buy products that offend their basic core beliefs should be alarming to any single member of this country, any single citizen. To find a government that will declare doctors have to perform acts that offend their very conscience is something that should give us all pause. But, instead, we see a Federal Government charging more heartily into the fray, even to diminishing and dismissing the belief in a higher power.
I think that that's the reason that the Congressional Prayer Caucus is so necessary and so needed at this time, because a Nation that forgets the real values is at risk of much greater catastrophe than what we've seen thus far, much greater catastrophe than an economy sagging brings, the loss of jobs brings. Because right now, we in America are struggling to find out what's in our heart.
We see many who are declaring that people are essentially good. The problem is not the person; the problem is in the guns, for example. I would say that the greater problem in America is not guns. The problem in America is the heart of America. Until we acknowledge and begin to reflect on that, until we begin to teach the new generations the importance of our heart in aligning with the heart of God, I think this Nation is going to go through more turmoil, more questions.
Our recommendation is that this Congress would stay away from limiting religious freedoms. I would request that every single citizen of this country contemplate those limitations that are currently being considered, those attempts to silence those in the faith community. A secular government is far different from a secular society, and yet that appears to be the discussion that we're having.
So, again, I would like to thank the gentleman from Virginia for his leadership in this issue. I would like to thank all of the members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. But I would especially like to thank the members and the citizens of this country for the unflagging belief that there is something more important than the human ideas. There's something more powerful, more stable, and more permanent than our current viewpoints on policies. Those are the laws of God that are inherent and knowledgeable to each one of us.
Again, I thank the gentleman for his leadership on this issue.
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