(CNSNews.com) – Attorney General Bill Barr spoke at the University of Notre Dame Law School on Friday, saying that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that a “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people.”
“In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings,” Barr said. “Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves, freely obeying the dictates of inwardly possessed and commonly shared moral values.
“And to control willful human beings with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s wills,” he said. “They must flow from the transcendent Supreme Being.
“In short,” he said, “in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people, a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and to manmade laws and had discipline to control themselves according to those controlling principles.”
Here is the transcript from the part of Barr’s speech where he said that the Framers believed that “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people:”
“So, the founders decided to take a gamble, and they called it a great experiment. They would leave the people broad liberty, they would limit the coercive power of the government, and they would place their trust in self-discipline and virtue of the American people. In the words of Madison: ‘We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves.’
“And this is really what they meant by self-government. It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislature. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.
“But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings. Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves, freely obeying the dictates of inwardly possessed and commonly shared moral values. And to control willful human beings with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s wills. They must flow from the transcendent Supreme Being.
“In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people, a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and to manmade laws and had discipline to control themselves according to those controlling principles
“As John Adams put it: ‘We have no government armed with a power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.’
“And as Father John Courtney Murray observed: The American tenet was not ‘that free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral order.’”
Bill Barr Flames ‘Unremitting Assault’ On Religion, Traditional Values During Notre Dame Visit
Concerted attacks on religious liberty have triggered a moral upheaval that contributes to deadly social pathologies, Attorney General William Barr said Friday at the University of Notre Dame.
“The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety,” Barr said. “It reflects the framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.”
The attorney general said numerous measures of social decline are rising as religion recedes from public life, citing higher instances of drug addiction, mental illness, and suicide. Those outcomes are not random, but the fruit of a dedicated campaign against orthodox religious belief, Barr added.
“This is not decay,” Barr said. “This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”
Barr said state governments and municipal agencies have been at the vanguard of that effort, noting the board of education in Orange County, California, recently decided religious dissenters may not excuse their children from portions of the school curriculum broaching LGBT issues. Schools are the usual forum for attacks on religious liberty, Barr said.
In that connection, the attorney general noted the Department of Justice recently intervened in a dispute between a gay teacher and a Catholic high school near Notre Dame. The case arose when the Archdiocese of Indianapolis directed Cathedral High School to dismiss a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage or forfeit its Catholic affiliation. The high school did so. The teacher, Joshua Payne-Elliott, sued the school in turn.
The Justice Department filed a statement of interest in the case Sept. 27, arguing that the lawsuit suppresses the archdiocese’s First Amendment right to expressive association, and impermissibly asks the court to interfere with internal church matters.
“The First Amendment precludes this court, a state actor, from cooperating in plaintiff’s attempt to stifle the archdiocese’s First Amendment right to expressive association,” the filing reads. “The First Amendment also precludes the court from entangling itself in a quintessentially ecclesiastical question: whether the archdiocese properly interpreted and applied Catholic doctrine. The First Amendment commits that question exclusively to the ecclesiastical tribunals of the church.”
Anti-Barr demonstrators picketed near the Notre Dame campus during the attorney general’s visit, according to the South Bend Tribune. Some protesters blew whistles in reference to a whistleblower complaint from the intelligence community concerning President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s business interests in Ukraine, and suggested Barr could support that effort. Hunter, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma Holdings.
The attending controversy prompted Notre Dame Law School Dean G. Marcus Cole to issue a statement defending academic freedom.
“Notre Dame Law School will neither endorse nor condemn invited speakers,” Cole said. “An institution of higher education must be a place where controversial ideas and points of view are expressed, heard, and discussed. This is such a place.”
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Contributed by Kevin Daley of The Daily Caller News Foundation.