Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and Jesus

Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and Jesus

This year, the eight days of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving. Hanukkah actually begins the evening before Thanksgiving because the Hebrew calendar begins in the evening. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are both festivals to celebrate freedom. To the Pilgrims, Thanksgiving was a celebration of religious freedom from the oppressive rule of the King of England. For the Jews, it was a celebration of religious freedom from the tyrant, Antiochus Epipanes. Both the Pilgrims and the Jews threw off the yoke of tyranny. The Pilgrims had survived the harsh winter and the Jews had survived the harsh oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes.
Historically, Hanukkah has been a relatively minor festival commemorating the great victory of the Jews over Antiochus Epiphanes in 164BC, as recorded in First Maccabees. Three years earlier (167), Antiochus desecrated the holy altar of God at the Temple in Jerusalem by offering a pig as a sacrifice to Zeus. This was on December 25, the birthday of Zeus, who was the Greek high god and thought to be the incarnation of the sun.
Antiochus forbade the Jewish people to practice their religion. They could not practice circumcision, observe the Sabbath, celebrate the feasts, keep the dietary laws, study the Torah, or in any way, worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those who disobeyed were either tortured or killed or both. Their bodies were mutilated, and while still alive and breathing, they were crucified. The wives and sons whom they had circumcised were strangled. They were then crucified with the dead bodies of their children made to hang around their parent’s necks.
Although greatly outnumbered, and fighting the superpower of their time, God gave the Maccabeans a great victory. They tore down the pagan altar, cleansed the Temple and reestablished their religious practices.
Traditional writings tell us that when the Jews rededicated the altar to God they only had enough oil to burn the menorah for one day. But after the menorah was kindled, it miraculously burned for eight days, thus, the eight days of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is called the Feast of Dedication and the Feast of Lights. Jesus celebrated this feast (John 10:22), which certainly makes it “kosher” for Christians. In fact, Jesus most likely was conceived by the Holy Spirit at Hanukkah and born during the Feast of Tabernacles. He is the ultimate human Temple/Tabernacle of God, and the true Light of the World who completely dedicated Himself to God.
Although Hanukkah has been celebrated for centuries, it has only been in recent times that it has gained importance. The central focus in celebrating Hanukkah is lighting the eight-branched menorah called a hanukkiah. The hanukkiah has a ninth candle called a Shamash. This word means servant. The servant candle is used to light the other eight.
From a Christian perspective, Jesus is the servant light who lights our lives with the fire of God as symbolized by the hanukkiah. Now that believers are also the Temple of God, we dedicate ourselves to God so the light of His life can shine through us. Let us not focus on the symbolism of Hanukkah but the person of Jesus. May we all be a living hanukkiah expressing the true meaning of Hanukkah as we rededicate ourselves to God during this holiday season. Or as Jesus said, “Let you light shine before men so they may see you good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). True freedom, whether at Thanksgiving or at Hanukkah, come from the Lord.
Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving.

In This Blog 1. The Muslim Brotherhood Vision Statement 2. Four Blood Moons

In This Blog

  1. The Muslim Brotherhood Vision Statement
  2. Four Blood Moons


  1. The Muslim Brotherhood Vision Statement

“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way.
Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu akbar!

To put this in perspective, the current President of the United States, as well as the former Secretary of State (you know who that is – she is preparing to run for President), has Muslim Brotherhood operatives as their top advisors. They LOVE the Muslim Brotherhood and enjoy their regular visits to the White House. No wonder God’s judgment on America will soon turn into His wrath as our American leaders call evil good and good evil. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is sovereign. While He will soon pour out His wrath on the unrighteous, He will also pour out His Spirit on the righteous. The greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever seen is at hand. ARE YOU READY?

  1. Four Blood Moons

There is a lot of interest in the four blood moons appearing in 2014 and 2015.

What is a blood moon? A blood moon is a lunar eclipse which happens when the shadow of the earth falls on the moon. The shadow of the earth falls on the moon when the earth is between the sun and the moon. A partial lunar eclipse happens when only a part of the earth’s shadow falls on the moon. A full lunar eclipse is when the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon. Because a total lunar eclipse often, but not always, appears red, it is referred to as a “blood moon.”

Because of the relationship between the moon’s orbit around the earth and the earth’s orbit around the sun, a total lunar eclipse only happens when there is a full moon. According to astronomers, unless the Lord intervenes, there will be 85 total lunar eclipses in the 21th century. For a more technical explanation of this subject, see the following web site of Dr. Danny R. Faulkner:


Since the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles (Succot) happen when there is a full moon, it is no surprise that a total lunar eclipse often occurs during these Feast days. In 2014, a total lunar eclipse is scheduled at Passover on April 15 and at Tabernacles on October 8. In 2015, a total lunar eclipse is scheduled at Passover on April 4 and at Tabernacles on September 13.  What makes this even more intriguing is that a total solar eclipse is scheduled to happen on March 20, 2015 and a partial solar eclipse on September 13, 2015. When four consecutive lunar eclipses are all total eclipses, the group is known as a tetrad.

It has been pointed out that there were blood moons when Israel became a nation in 1948 and when Israel liberated Jerusalem in 1967. Perhaps it is worth noting that the blood moons appeared a year after these momentous events in 1949 and 1968.

As believers, how should we view this interesting phenomenon? Is this a sign from God or simply a normal, but unusual, astronomical happening?

The Bible is clear that God does control the heavenly bodies and does use them as signs and wonders for us to observe and discern. For example, the star of Bethlehem.

Genesis 1:14 tells us that God put the lights in the heaven for signs and seasons (moedim – festivals). The moon tells us when to celebrate the Feasts of the Lord.

In Joel 2:30-31, we learn that at the end of the age just before the coming of the Lord, there will be cataclysmic changes in the sky when the sun turns into darkness and the moon into blood.

In Acts 2:19-21, Peter quoted the Joel prophecy and again placed the event happening at the time of the coming of the Lord.

Jesus also referred to this sign and wonder in Matthew 24:29-31 and says this will happen at the end of the tribulation period.

In Revelation 6:12, the same sign and wonder happens with the opening of the sixth seal which happens at/very near the end of the tribulation period.

It is clear that all of the Scripture references are talking about the same event that happens at/toward the end of the tribulation period when Jesus returns, or as the prophet said, “in the Day of the Lord, the Great Day of His wrath.” Since these are apocalyptic statements, we can’t be sure if they are meant to be taken symbolically or literally. We will certainly know when the time comes.

The Lord clearly tells us we should be aware of the prophetic signs and seasons (Matthew 16:1-3). These four blood moons could be signs telling us that Israel will be at war in these years, and capture more land and that America will experience more severe judgments from God that will bring about America’s collapse. But we should be able to understand this without any special signs. While the four blood moons are astronomically significant, are they significant as prophetic signs? We should keep our “spiritual balance” and not be overly focused on celestial signs. We certainly should not make life decisions based on these events.

Our focus should be on loving God and loving our neighbor and the stranger as ourselves. Our focus should be on treating our spouse with unconditional love and respect, preferring the other over ourselves. Our focus should be on being a good witness in our work ethic on the job. Our focus should be on being a good steward and giving of our time and finances to the kingdom of God. Our focus should be on forgiving those who have wronged us. Our focus should be on helping those in need. Our focus should be on praying for righteous leaders and repenting of the sins of our nation. Our focus should be on speaking out for Israel and speaking against anti-Semitism. Our focus should be on preparing for the end times. Our focus should be on living a godly life that pleases the Lord and makes a difference in our circle of influence.


New England Speaking Tour – Sept. 22-29


Dr. Richard Booker

New England Speaking Tour – Sept. 22-29

Sunday, Sept. 22
Morning: 10:00 AM
Word of Life Christian Fellowship
95 Old Loudon Road, Concord, NH 03301
Topic: Pictures of Jesus in the Feasts of the Lord Part 1
Evening: 6:00 PM
Word of Life Christian Fellowship
Topic: Pictures of Jesus in the Feasts of the Lord Part 2
Monday, Sept. 23
Evening: 6:00 PM
Vision NH (NH4Israel)
Temple Israel
66 Salmon Street, Manchester, NH
Topic: The Battle for Truth in the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Tuesday, Sept. 24
12:00 Noon
Tuesday Troop
Nashua (For directions call Bev@ 603-672-0411)
Topic: The Feast for All Nations
Evening: 7:00 PM
Northeastern University at Hillel House
70 St. Stephen Street
Boston, MA
                  Topic: 10 Commandments of Christian-Jewish Relations
Wed., Sept. 25
Evening: 7:30 PM
Lion of Judah
68 Northampton Street
Boston, MA
Topic: The Feast for All Nations
Friday, Sept. 27
Evening: 7:00 PM
Wesley United Methodist Church
8 North Street, Salem, MA 01970
Topic: The Everlasting Blood Covenant
Sunday, Sept. 29
Morning: 10:15 AM (Arrive 9:45)
Bread of Life Church
Westminster, MA
Topic: Promises to the Overcomers

For pdf of schedule




The Muslim Brotherhood’s Memorandum

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Memorandum

Once only known to to those living in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood is now known by the whole world as a radical Islamic terrorist organization. What most Westerners do not know is that the Muslim Brotherhood is the “Mother” of Terrorist Organizations. Also not known by Americans is the Muslim Brotherhood vision to destroy the American culture from within and replace our Judeo-Christian culture and Constitution with Islam and Sharia law. The statement shown below is taken from their memorandum concerning the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. This is the organization that the current President of the United States supports.

An Explanatory Memorandum
On the General Strategic Goal for the Group
In North America
4-Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America:
The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their works in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within and “sabotaging” it’s miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a  Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal.



As I am writing this, everything that can be shaken is about to be shaken.

As I am writing this, everything that can be shaken is about to be shaken.

Thankfully, the Egyptian army removed the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) President Mohammed Morsi from office. With intimidation from his fellow MB thugs and goons, Morsi was “democratically” elected by a slim margin and only received 13 million votes. When he turned Egypt towards becoming a radical Islamic state, excluding other political parties, the people rose up in protest. In the largest civil protest in history, over 20 million Egyptians peacefully called for his removal. The army responded and removed Morsi. While many pathetic, week-kneed Western politicians protested the overthrow of a democratically elected government, we are reminded that Hitler in Germany and Hamas in Gaza were also democratically elected. Sometimes democracy does not work in favor of the people. He that has an ear, let him hear.
Since the MB is violently anti-Christian as well as anti-Semitic, the Coptic Christians in Egypt supported his removal. The Coptic Christians are one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. It is believed that the apostle Mark went to Alexandria, Egypt and introduced the Christian faith in the first century. This means the Coptic Christians have been in Egypt about six hundred years before Islam conquered Egypt. They represent about ten percent of the Egyptian population.
The MB then showed the true colors of their “peaceful religion” by attacking the Coptic Christians. In a Kristallnacht-like action, they plundered over sixty Christian churches and set many of them on fire. In an action reminiscent of the Exodus story, the MB painted red on the front of Coptic owned stores to mark them for death and destruction. They have raped Coptic women at will and stolen Coptic children to raise them as Islamic or demand a ransom for their return. In addition, they plundered a Catholic school and paraded three nuns on the streets like spoils of war. This is an everyday occurrence for the Coptic believers in Egypt and with not a word of outrage from the White House, the American press or the American pastors.
How tragic that the president of the United States supports the MB and invites them to tea at the While House. He must be so upset that “his guys” got removed from office in Egypt. It is a serious setback to the MB plan to establish a world-wide Islamic Kalif that will usher in the appearance of the 12th Imam.
At the time of this writing, the world knows that the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his citizens and those who oppose him. Once again, this has put the president of the United States in a quandary as he has said that using chemical weapons would cross his red line. He has backed himself into a corner and must act. Furthermore, those fighting against Assad are worse than Assad so arming them will put American weapons in the hands of terrorists who will turn them against us and against Israel. It is a no-win situation.
US warships have placed themselves in position to launch a rocket attack against Assad. By the time you read this, they may have already fired them. Most insightful observers with whom I agree, believe that the US military has been authorized to make a token response to save face and to punish Assad with enough force to discourage him from further use of chemical weapons. Whatever the results, the world will see it as a weak response that will only encourage those who hate us to continue in their efforts to establish their world-wide Islamic Kalif.
Ironically, the Arab League of Nations supports this attack because both Syria and Iran are Shiite Muslims while most of the Arab League of Nations is Sunni. Saudi Arabia is terrorized by the thought of Iran getting nuclear weapons as Iran will use them to take over the Saudi oil fields. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Israel went to the defense of Saudi Arabia by destroying Iran’s nuclear weapons and Syria’s chemical weapons? Stranger things have happened in our world.
Oh, by-the-way, this is the same Assad that Hillary Clinton said was a reformer we could work with.
It is very hard to contain a war. They somehow have a way of getting out of control. Syria and Iran say they will attack Israel if the US attacks Syria. Lebanon based Hezbollah also says they will attack Israel. That would be a fatal mistake for Syria and Iran and Hezbollah as it would force Israel to defend herself. I don’t think Israel would give a weak response. This could bring about the fulfillment of Isaiah 17:1 that says Damascus will become a ruinous heap and cease from being a city. Now for the rest of the story, just read the Bible. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob reigns. His counsel shall stand and none shall stay His hand. Amen!
Fall Festivals
It is time for the Fall Feasts of the Lord. September 5, Thursday, is the first day of Trumpet or Rosh Hashanah (the Biblical New Year). We wish all of our Jewish friends a blessed Shana Tovah – happy New Year. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is September 14, Saturday. Tabernacles (Succot) is September 19-25.
I will be in New England during Succot from September 20 to September 29 speaking at two synagogues, a Hillel college campus group and at six Christian churches and a home Bible study group. Prayer is appreciated. For further information, contact Gail Thomas at rightoak@yahoo.com.
Hag Sameach – Happy Holidays.

Israel releases murderers for “peace”

 Israel releases murderers for “peace”

Once again. the Israeli government has given in to the insane demands of the American government that will result in the murder of more Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu, under tremendous pressure from our White House and State Department, has agreed to release 103 so-called Palestinian prisoners. These are not people who stole a falafel at the restaurant. These are cold-blooded, demonic inspired murderous who murdered Israeli men, women and children as well as Palestinian collaborators in the most brutal and savage way.

Once released, the Palestinian leadership will welcome these murderers as great heroes and probably name streets and parks after them. Of course, they will immediately resume their “career” of murdering more Israelis. There is absolutely no justification for this immoral action no matter how much pressure is put on the Prime Minister. At the same time of this release, there is not doubt that the American President and State Department are collaborating with the EU to pressure Israel to give up more land as well as Jerusalem until Israel cannot defend herself. And the worse part of this is everyone knows nothing will come from the phony negotiations that Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are forcing on Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The result will be more pressure for Israel to give up her sacred God-given land which will lead to more bloodshed and more wars. As long as Israel looks to the US and not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for her protection, Israel’s leaders will continue to yield to pressure from the American government. However, God will use even this for His purposes.

These kinds of decisions by the Israeli government will eventually put Israel in such a non-defensible position that Israel will eventually turn to the Almighty for help. Tragically, there will be much needless suffering that could be avoided. Furthermore, these misguided policies of the American President and the State Department will hasten God’s judgment on America. Our collapse is at hand as we learn from the prophet Joel, “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land” (Joel 3:1-2).


Iran’s New “Moderate” President

Iran’s New “Moderate” President

Iran now has a new president and the West, including America’s political leaders and press, are calling him a moderate. Once again, our political leaders and press are putting their heads in the sand and living in denial. They are either completely stupid or completely gullible. Probably a little of both. Not calling your enemy for what he is will further contribute to the world becoming a more dangerous place and America weaker and the laughing stock of the Islamic world. We will all pay a heavy price for this inability to see and speak the truth.

President Hassan Rouhani is so bad that his own son couldn’t stand him and committed suicide in 1992. Here is the suicide note the son left. It is sad, “I hate your government, your lies, your corruption, your religion, your double acts and your hypocrisy. I am ashamed to live in such an environment where I am forced to lie to my friends each day, telling them that my father isn’t part of all of this. Telling them my father loves this nation, whereas I believe this not to be true. It makes me sick seeing you, my father, kiss the hand of Khamenei.”

WOW! Your heart goes out to the son. We see his desperation. We feel his pain. He felt trapped in an evil presence so bad that death was better than life.

So who is this “moderate” new president of Iran that the West is gushing over?

■ President Hassan Rouhani was an early disciple of Ayatollah Khamenei, the founder of the Islamic Republic who, with the help of former President Jimmy Carter, the Baptist Sunday School teacher, overthrew the Sha—a friend of America.

■ He joined the Ayatollah in Paris while the Ayatollah was in exile but returned with him to set up Islamic rule in Iran.

■ You remember Khamenei? He is the one who gave plastic keys to paradise to young children and then sent them out to step on land mines so the way would be cleared for his army.

■ Rouhani worked closely with Khamenei in establishing Islamic rule in Iran and organized and chaired many key functions in Iran including its security apparatus of murder and terror against any who opposed the regime.

■ Rouhani oversaw the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires which killed 85 people and the Khobar Towers in 1996 which killed 19 Americans.

■ Rouhani refers to Islamic terrorist groups as political organizations and blames Israel and “the Zionists” for all the world’s ills.

■ When young Iranians recently demonstrated for democracy, Rouhani threatened to “crush the protestors mercilessly and monumentally.”

■ With a law degree from a university in Scotland, Rouhani learned how Westerners think. As Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator with the West regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Rouhani boasted of how he has “outwitted the naïve Europeans” and bought Iran time to develop its nuclear weapons.

Do not be deceived about this man and the press the West gives him as a moderate. While he may not use the flaming rhetoric by his crazy predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejah, this man is a hard-line hater of America and Israel.

But don’t be overly troubled, the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men (Daniel 4:17). Our God reigns.





The American Life Cycle

The American Life Cycle
Every nation in the world except Israel has a life cycle. The LORD gave the following words of assurance to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah, “ ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant,’ says the LORD, for I am with you; For I will make a complete end of all the nations to which I have drive you., but I will not make a complete end of you. I will rightly correct you, for I will not leave you wholly unpunished” (Jeremiah 46:28).
We all know that Israel is surrounded by enemies who want to destroy her. The conflict in Syria will soon become a regional war as Russia and the U.S. are arming opposing factions. Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. While in war people die and suffer, the Almighty will protect Israel and give her victory over her enemies. But what about America?
In 1787, about the time America established its independence from Britain, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh named Alexander Tyler made the following comment about the fall of Athens. Please read it carefully and make your own determination as to where you believe America is on the numeric list. Then based on your assessment, what are you going to do about it?
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent for m of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
“The average of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence: 1. From bondage to spiritual faith 2. From spiritual faith to great courage 3. From courage to liberty 4. From liberty to abundance 5. From abundance to complacency 6. From complacency to apathy 7. Form apathy to dependence 8. From dependence back into bondage”


Whenever there is an Islamic terrorists attack, Islamic leaders and ordinary Muslims say Islam is a peaceful religion that does not teach such terrible things. I wish this was true but here are words from the Koran. Whether it is 9/11, the Boston Marathon, the Fort Hood massacre, Europe, Asia or the Middle East, Islamic terrorist are simply doing what the Koran tells them to do. They are the observant Muslims.
Regarding Violence and Terror
Fighting is obligatory for you … (Surah 2:216)
And kill them wherever you find them … (Surah 2:191)
Slay them wherever you find them … Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme (Surah 2:190,193)
We will put terror in the hearts of the unbelievers … (Surah 3:150)
The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternative sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land … (Surah 5:33)
… beware of them lest they seduce you from some part of that which Allah has revealed to you. And if they turn away know that Allah’s will is to smite them … (Surah 5:49)
… Take not the Jews and Christians for friends … (Surah 5:51)
… slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare to ambush them … (Surah 9:5)
Fight against those [Jews and Christians] who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day (Surah 9:29)
The Hadith – Collections of the Sayings of Muhammed
The last hour will not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or tree and a stone or tree would say: ‘Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him’ … (Hadith Book 041, Number 6985)
Jews are apes and pigs (Surah 2:65; 5:60; 7:166)
 (Remember the speech of the Egyptian President referring to Jews as apes and pigs? Well guess where he got that.)
Regarding Women – This is what life will be like for women in America under Sharia Law
Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah had guarded them. As for those from who you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Allah is high, supreme. (Surah 4:34)
Do Moslems Worship the Same God as the Christians and Jews? Let the Koran give us the answer.
Say: ‘Unbelievers, I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. I shall never worship what you worship, nor will you ever worship what I worship. You have your own religion, and I have mine’ (Surah 109:1-6)

Margaret Thatcher: The Moral Foundations of Society

Dear Friends:
This is my second blog concerning Margaret Thatcher. She was a great lady and a great political leader. As you read the following exert from one of her speeches, you will understand why she had God’s blessing on her life. This is such a powerful speech you may want to print it and keep it nearby. May the Lord, in His mercy, give the US a leader like Margaret Thatcher.
Margaret Thatcher: The Moral Foundations of Society
 [In November 1994, Lady Thatcher delivered a lecture before an audience of 2,500 students, faculty, and guests, titled “God and Man: Perspectives on Christianity in the 20th Century.” This is an edited version of that lecture.]
The Moral Foundations of the American Founding
History has taught us that freedom cannot long survive unless it is based on moral foundations. The American founding bears ample witness to this fact. America has become the most powerful nation in history, yet she uses her power not for territorial expansion but to perpetuate freedom and justice throughout the world.
For over two centuries, Americans have held fast to their belief in freedom for all men-a belief that springs from their spiritual heritage. John Adams, second president of the United States, wrote in 1789, “Our Constitution was designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” That was an astonishing thing to say, but it was true.
What kind of people built America and thus prompted Adams to make such a statement? Sadly, too many people, especially young people, have a hard time answering that question. They know little of their own history (This is also true in Great Britain.) But America’s is a very distinguished history, nonetheless, and it has important lessons to teach us regarding the necessity of moral foundations.
John Winthrop, who led the Great Migration to America in the early 17th century and who helped found the Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared, “We shall be as a City upon a Hill.” On the voyage to the New World, he told the members of his company that they must rise to their responsibilities and learn to live as God intended men should live: in charity, love, and cooperation with one another. Most of the early founders affirmed the colonists were infused with the same spirit, and they tried to live in accord with a Biblical ethic. They felt they weren’t able to do so in Great Britain or elsewhere in Europe. Some of them were Protestant, and some were Catholic; it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they did not feel they had the liberty to worship freely and, therefore, to live freely, at home. With enormous courage, the first American colonists set out on a perilous journey to an unknown land-without government subsidies and not in order to amass fortunes but to fulfill their faith.
Christianity is based on the belief in a single God as evolved from Judaism. Most important of all, the faith of America’s founders affirmed the sanctity of each individual. Every human life-man or woman, child or adult, commoner or aristocrat, rich or poor-was equal in the eyes of the Lord. It also affirmed the responsibility of each individual.
This was not a faith that allowed people to do whatever they wished, regardless of the consequences. The Ten Commandments, the injunction of Moses (“Look after your neighbor as yourself”), the Sermon on the Mount, and the Golden Rule made Americans feel precious-and also accountable-for the way in which they used their God-given talents. Thus they shared a deep sense of obligation to one another. And, as the years passed, they not only formed strong communities but devised laws that would protect individual freedom-laws that would eventually be enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Freedom with Responsibility
Great Britain, which shares much of her history in common with America, has also derived strength from its moral foundations, especially since the 18th century when freedom gradually began to spread throughout her society Many people were greatly influenced by the sermons of John Wesley (1703-1791), who took the Biblical ethic to the people in a way which the institutional church itself had not done previously.
But we in the West must also recognize our debt to other cultures. In the pre-Christian era, for example, the ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had much to contribute to our understanding of such concepts as truth, goodness, and virtue. They knew full well that responsibility was the price of freedom. Yet it is doubtful whether truth, goodness, and virtue founded on reason alone would have endured in the same way as they did in the West, where they were based upon a Biblical ethic.
Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wrote tellingly of the collapse of Athens, which was the birthplace of democracy. He judged that, in the end, more than they wanted freedom, the Athenians wanted security. Yet they lost everything-security, comfort, and freedom. This was because they wanted not to give to society, but for society to give to them. The freedom they were seeking was freedom from responsibility. It is no wonder, then, that they ceased to be free. In the modern world, we should recall the Athenians’ dire fate whenever we confront demands for increased state paternalism.
To cite a more recent lesson in the importance of moral foundations, we should listen to Czech President Vaclav Havel, who suffered grievously for speaking up for freedom when his nation was still under the thumb of communism. He has observed, “In everyone there is some longing for humanity’s rightful dignity, for moral integrity, and for a sense that transcends the world of existence.” His words suggest that in spite of all the dread terrors of communism, it could not crush the religious fervor of the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
So long as freedom, that is, freedom with responsibility, is grounded in morality and religion, it will last far longer than the kind that is grounded only in abstract, philosophical notions. Of course, many foes of morality and religion have attempted to argue that new scientific discoveries make belief in God obsolete, but what they actually demonstrate is the remarkable and unique nature of man and the universe. It is hard not to believe that these gifts were given by a divine Creator, who alone can unlock the secrets of existence.
Societies Without Moral Foundations
The most important problems we have to tackle today are problems, ultimately, having to do with the moral foundations of society There are people who eagerly accept their own freedom but do not respect the freedom of others – they, like the Athenians, want freedom from responsibility. But if they accept freedom for themselves, they must respect the freedom of others. If they expect to go about their business unhindered and to be protected from violence, they must not hinder the business of or do violence to others.
They would do well to look at what has happened in societies without moral foundations. Accepting no laws but the laws of force, these societies have been ruled by totalitarian ideologies like Nazism, fascism, and communism, which do not spring from the general populace, but are imposed on it by intellectual elites.
It was two members of such an elite, Marx and Lenin, who conceived of “dialectical materialism,” the basic doctrine of communism. It robs people of all freedom-from freedom of worship to freedom of ownership. Marx and Lenin desired to substitute their will not only for all individual will but for God’s will.
They wanted to plan everything; in short, they wanted to become gods. Theirs was a breathtakingly arrogant creed, and it denied above all else the sanctity of human life.
The 19th century French economist and philosopher Frederic Bastiat once warned against this creed. He questioned those who, “though they are made of the same human clay as the rest of us, think they can take away all our freedoms and exercise them on our behalf.” He would have been appalled but not surprised that the communists of the 20th century took away the freedom of millions of individuals, starting with the freedom to worship. The communists viewed religion as “the opiate of the people.” They seized Bibles as well as all other private property at gun point and murdered at least 10 million souls in the process.
Thus 20th century Russia entered into the greatest experiment in government and atheism the world had ever seen, just as America several centuries earlier had entered into the world’s greatest experiment in freedom and faith.
Communism denied all that the Judeo-Christian tradition taught about individual worth, human dignity, and moral responsibility. It was not surprising that it collapsed after a relatively brief existence. It could not survive more than a few generations because it denied human nature, which is fundamentally moral and spiritual. (It is true that no one predicted the collapse would come so quickly and so easily. In retrospect, we know that this was due in large measure to the firmness of President Ronald Reagan who said, in effect, to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “Do not try to beat us militarily, and do not think that you can extend your creed to the rest of the world by force.”)
The West began to fight the moral battle against communism in earnest in the 1980s, and it was our resolve – combined with the spiritual strength of the people suffering under the system who finally said, “Enough!” – that helped restore freedom in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union-the freedom to worship, speak, associate, vote, establish political parties, start businesses, own property, and much more. If communism had been a creed with moral foundations, it might have survived, but it was not, and it simply could not sustain itself in a world that had such shining examples of freedom, namely, America and Great Britain.
The Moral Foundations of Capitalism
It is important to understand that the moral foundations of a society do not extend only to its political system; they must extend to its economic system as well. America’s commitment to capitalism is unquestionably the best example of this principle.
Capitalism is not, contrary to what those on the Left have tried to argue, an amoral system based on selfishness, greed, and exploitation. It is a moral system based on a Biblical ethic. There is no other comparable system that has raised the standard of living of millions of people, created vast new wealth and resources, or inspired so many beneficial innovations and technologies.
The wonderful thing about capitalism is that it does not discriminate against the poor, as has been so often charged; indeed, it is the only economic system that raises the poor out of poverty. Capitalism also allows nations that are not rich in natural resources to prosper. If resources were the key to wealth, the richest country in the world would be Russia, because it has abundant supplies of everything from oil, gas, platinum, gold, silver, aluminum, and copper to timber, water, wildlife, and fertile soil.
Why isn’t Russia the wealthiest country in the world? Why aren’t other resource-rich countries in the Third World at the top of the list? It is because their governments deny citizens the liberty to use their God-given talents. Man’s greatest resource is himself, but he must be free to use that resource.
In his recent encyclical, Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II addressed this issue. He wrote that the collapse of communism is not merely to be considered as a “technical problem.” It is a consequence of the violation of human rights. He specifically referred to such human rights as the right to private initiative, to own property, and to act in the marketplace. Remember the “Parable of the Talents” in the New Testament? Christ exhorts us to be the best we can be by developing our skills and abilities, by succeeding in all our tasks and endeavors. What better description can there be of capitalism? In creating new products, new services, and new jobs, we create a vibrant community of work. And that community of work serves as the basis of peace and good will among all men.
The Pope also acknowledged that capitalism encourages important virtues, like diligence, industriousness, prudence, reliability, fidelity, conscientiousness, and a tendency to save in order to invest in the future. It is not material goods but all of these great virtues, exhibited by individuals working together, that constitute what we call the “marketplace.”
The Moral Foundations of the Law
Freedom, whether it is the freedom of the marketplace or any other kind, must exist within the framework of law. 0thenvise it means only freedom for the strong to oppress the weak. Whenever I visit the former Soviet Union, I stress this point with students, scholars, politicians, and businessmen-in short, with everyone I meet. Over and over again, I repeat: Freedom must be informed by the principle of justice in order to make it work between people. A system of laws based on solid moral foundations must regulate the entire life of a nation.
But this is an extremely difficult point to get across to people with little or no experience with laws except those based on force. The concept of justice is entirely foreign to communism. So, too, is the concept of equality. For over seventy years, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had no system of common law. There were only the arbitrary and often contradictory dictates of the Communist Party. There was no independent judiciary. There was no such thing as truth in the communist system.
And what is freedom without truth? I have been a scientist, a lawyer, and a politician, and from my own experience I can testify that it is nothing. The third century Roman jurist Julius Paulus said, “What is right is not derived from the rule, but the rule arises from our knowledge of what is right.” In other words, the law is founded on what we believe to be true and just. It has moral foundations. Once again, it is important to note that the free societies of America and Great Britain derive such foundations from a Biblical ethic.
The Moral Foundations of Democracy
Democracy is never mentioned in the Bible. When people are gathered together, whether as families, communities or nations, their purpose is not to ascertain the will of the majority, but the will of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, I am an enthusiast of democracy because it is about more than the will of the majority. If it were only about the will of the majority, it would be the right of the majority to oppress the minority. The American Declaration of Independence and Constitution make it clear that this is not the case.
There are certain rights which are human rights and which no government can displace. And when it comes to how you Americans exercise your rights under democracy, your hearts seem to be touched by something greater than yourselves. Your role in democracy does not end when you cast your vote in an election. It applies daily; the standards and values that are the moral foundations of society are also the foundations of your lives.
Democracy is essential to preserving freedom. As Lord Acton reminded us, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If no individual can be trusted with power indefinitely, it is even more true that no government can be. It has to be checked, and the best way of doing so is through the will of the majority, bearing in mind that this will can never be a substitute for individual human rights.
I am often asked whether I think there will be a single international democracy, known as a “new world order.” Though many of us may yearn for one, I do not believe it will ever arrive. We are misleading ourselves about human nature when we say, “Surely we’re too civilized, too reasonable, ever to go to war again,” or, “We can rely on our governments to get together and reconcile our differences.” Tyrants are not moved by idealism. They are moved by naked ambition. Idealism did not stop Hitler; it did not stop Stalin. Our best hope as sovereign nations is to maintain strong defenses. Indeed, that has been one of the most important moral as well as geopolitical lessons of the 20th century.
Dictators are encouraged by weakness; they are stopped by strength. By strength, of course, I do not merely mean military might but the resolve to use that might against evil.
The West did show sufficient resolve against Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. But we failed bitterly in Bosnia. In this case, instead of showing resolve, we preferred “diplomacy” and “consensus.” As a result, a quarter of a million people were massacred. This was a horror that I, for one, never expected to see again in my lifetime. But it happened. Who knows what tragedies the future holds if we do not learn from the repeated lessons of histoy? The price of freedom is still, and always will be, eternal vigilance.
Free societies demand more care and devotion than any others. They are, moreover, the only societies with moral foundations, and those foundations are evident in their political, economic, legal, cultural, and, most importantly, spiritual life.
We who are living in the West today are fortunate. Freedom has been bequeathed to us. We have not had to carve it out of nothing; we have not had to pay for it with our lives. Others before us have done so. But it would be a grave mistake to think that freedom requires nothing of us. Each of us has to earn freedom anew in order to possess it. We do so not just for our own sake, but for the sake of our children, so that they may build a better future that will sustain over the wider world the responsibilities and blessings of freedom.