Clenard Childress
We hold these truths to be self evident...
By Clenard Childress
June 25, 2010

The chief cornerstone of truth by which Dr. Martin Luther King and others of the Civil Rights movement staked their claim for social justice is recorded in the Declaration of Independence which says,

    "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...."

On December 27th, 1962, while in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. King expounded on this even further when he said of this passage,

    "This idea of the dignity and worth of human personality is expressed eloquently and unequivocally in the Declaration of Independence. 'All men,' it says, 'are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' Never has a sociopolitical document proclaimed more profoundly and eloquently the sacredness of human personality."

Of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence, twenty-nine were Seminarians, and twenty-eight had Bible school degrees. The majority of the Founding Fathers were men of faith, men of prayer, and men of the Scriptures. Two were Anglicans, eleven were Congregationalists, two were Deists, thirteen were Episcopalians, eleven were Presbyterians, at least one was a Quaker, one a Roman Catholic, one a Unitarian and at least twelve history is silent about. John Adams in his 1809 letter to Benjamin Rush, another of the signers of the Declaration of Independence said, "The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this earth." James Wilson, the second most active at the Constitutional Convention, one of only six individuals to have signed both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, revered as one of the fathers of the Constitution, was Chief Justice of the first Supreme Court. He said, "You cannot have good civil law if it's not based on divine law." My Dad, a Deacon in the church, hopefully has had the opportunity to meet Charles Thompson one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence whose company produced the Bible he carried faithfully for years: the Thompson's Chain-Reference Bible. John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

We hold these truths to be self evident...

Blackstone was the most quoted source while writing the constitution, yet the most quoted source of for Blackstone, was the Bible. Extrapolated from the most quoted source, the Bible, I find the most distinguish parable in scripture to be the parable of The Sower. This parable is predicated with a clear warning not ascribed to any other teaching. The warning Christ gave was, "if you do not understand this parable you will not understand any other parable."

Luke 8:4-15 When a great multitude came together, and people from every city were coming to him, he spoke by a parable. "The farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed,

  • Some fell along the road, and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the sky devoured it.

  • Other seed fell on the rock, and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

  • Other fell amid the thorns, and the thorns grew with it, and choked it.

  • Other fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit one hundred times.

Jesus explained the parable in Luke 8:11

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

  • Those along the road are those who hear, then the devil comes, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved.

  • Those on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy but these have no root, who believe for a while, then fall away in time of temptation.

  • That which fell among the thorns, these are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

  • That in the good ground, these are such as in an hones and good heart, having heard the word, hold it tightly, and bring forth fruit with patience.

There are four salient points of the parable that are clear caveats to be heeded:

  1. The seed is the Word of God.

  2. The personification of evil's intention is to take the Word from you!

  3. You were to guard your heart and be receptive and faithful.

  4. You would be fruitful if you received — hold tightly — the Word of God.

We hold these truths to be self evident...

It was during the deliberations over how the Constitution was going to be written, while sorting through the relinquishing of self-interests and individuals rights, it looked like the Convention would unravel because some states were unwilling to give up enough of their "sovereign rights" to perceive themselves as a Union, or, The United States of America. The delegates from New York had already gone home in frustration. Ben Franklin rose and spoke into history...

    In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor... And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

    I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: "that God governs in the affairs of man." And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

    We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better then the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.

    I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.

Upon sober reflection of what they attending the Convention had just heard, the delegates returned refreshed to complete writing the Constitution. It is with complete assurance I can surmise that with twenty-nine Seminarians and the respect for the scriptures the Founders demonstrated, they were privy to the distinct teaching of the Sower and incorporated its concept and application in both Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States. The Holy Spirit whom John Adams spoke of guided them with the words that would assure their success and fruitfulness. "We, the people of the United States...." begins what has become the oldest written constitution in the world today.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to for a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We hold these truths to be self evident...

Stop! Hold on and think very clearly for a moment. As a nation we never obeyed the principle... of the most distinguished parable... of the most quoted source. America never completely held to the espoused truth! Evil came immediately and snatched it away just as described in scripture. Evil knowing that in so doing, he would always be able to divide the union, maintain blatant injustice, disrupt domestic tranquility, and hopefully, defeat our common defense. America failed to hold onto the truth of the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson, a major writer and signer of the Declaration, continued to return to his home in Virginia where he had men and women, who were supposedly created equally in the image of God, "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," held in chains. Our first president, George Washington, who served this country so valiantly and courageously during the Revolutionary War, and was our first President, did not hold to the truth of the Declaration until the day of his death when he manumitted his Negro Slaves and declared them free.

On a cold rainy Saturday, March 4, 1865, a little less then a month and a half before he was assassinated, President Abraham Lincoln stood on the cusp of history and gave his Second Inaugural Address. One of the darkest and most costly periods in our nation's history was the Civil War and what was it over? We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident. President Lincoln insightfully perceived,

    Yet, if God wills that it continue (Civil War) until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

The Emancipation Proclamation and Second Inaugural Address should have announced the restoration of the salient ideas of the Declaration but the cancer mutated into Jim Crow laws and segregation. Cloaking its evil machinations, morphing its evil self from one thing to another in different generations, laws like Plessey vs. Ferguson were passed; "Separate but equal," which were always separate, but never equal, were the law of the land. In the ensuing years, there would be twenty platforms for Segregation between 1868 and 1948; segregated public schools, public transportation, restaurants, restrooms; the Ku Klux Klan; opposition to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. The 13th Amendment banned Slavery. The 14th Amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision and the 15th gave African-Americans the right to vote. And there was the opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, all driven by the same political expedient. Once again it truly could have been the dawning of a new day, a morning that Martin Luther King dreamed of where America would live out its creed.

Unfortunately, once again evil mutated, and transmogrified, for what was done overtly via Slavery robbing men and women of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," morphed into an evil done in secret, in a place hidden away, destroying the sacredness of human life. Cloaked in new terminology, disguised in a different morality, in 1967 in the state of Colorado, America's most egregious sin — Legalized Abortion — would metastasize within our laws and be declared legal. In 1973, because of Roe vs. Wade, Abortion became national law with a clearly diabolical manifesto which says,

    "We do not hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are not created equal, that they are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are not Life, are not Liberty and there will be no Pursuit of Happiness, for your ignominious life will be terminated via your mother's Constitutional guarantee to the Rights of her body."

Yet, in the midst of all this horror, the unimaginable killing of innocent life, there are still a people of conscience who hold fast these truths! There is only one movement in America demanding, "We hold these truths to be self evident" these days and this is the Pro-life, Anti-Abortion Movement. Evil's plan has at all times been to destroy this nation and deny what is declared in the Declaration. The Declaration will not be denied. But do heed this warning: You cannot declare war on the most defenseless and vulnerable of society and then ask God to protect this same society giving us a "common defense" as described in the Constitution should it continue down this path of calloused madness — just ask the Civil War generation. James McHenry, Secretary of War and signer of the Declaration of Independence said,

    "Public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. Those can alone serve to society order and peace and to our courts of justice, Constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain without the Bible we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses."

Pro-Lifers, men and women of conscience, strive on! Continue to hold fast the truth for the sake of the future of our children and our nation, for in the end as Dr. Martin Luther King so wonderfully and eloquently said,

    "May I say in conclusion that in spite of the difficulties ahead, in spite of the fact that we must work hard, I still have faith in the future. And I still have faith in America because I love America and I believe that we will continue to build a coalition of conscience that one day will solve this problem. We sing a little song in our movement and it has been our guiding faith. Sometimes we've been facing hooded perpetrators of violence; sometimes we face jeering mobs. Sometimes we face dogs and the gushing waters from fire hoses. Sometimes in crowded jail cells we join hands to sing it. And sometimes in just open mass meetings. But we could sing it as a hymn of faith. We shall overcome, we shall overcome, deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome. And somehow I believe this because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. We shall overcome because Carlyle is right. No lie can live forever. We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right, truth crushed earth shall rise again. We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right, truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yet that scaffold sways the future. And behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own. And so with this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.

We will prevail because...

"We hold these truths to be self evident...."

© Clenard Childress


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Clenard Childress

Rev. Dr. Clenard H. Childress, Jr., is the senior pastor of The New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ. He is the founder of the website and president of Life Education And Resource Network, Northeast. LEARN is the largest African-American pro-life group in the US... (more)


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