The prophetic words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn resonate like thunder across the history of man. "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Thus summarized the Nobel laureate, Orthodox Christian author, and Russian dissident the main reason why the communist revolution was able to enslave, terrorize, and murder tens of millions of innocent people. An atheistic mentality and a long process of secularization gradually alienated the people from God and His moral laws. This led them away from truth and authentic liberty and facilitated the rise of tyranny.
Godlessness is always the first step to the concentration camp. Tragically, that same process is now at work in America and many other parts of the world. Too many refuse to see it or believe it.
America has long been a beacon of freedom for millions of souls who came here seeking liberty and opportunity. It achieved this unique place in history by recognizing the authority of God and his moral laws and declaring that men have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Founded by faithful and God-fearing men who despised government tyranny and sought religious freedom and individual liberty, America incorporated these universally true principles in its Declaration of Independence and Constitution. These ideals eventually became the bedrock upon which all our laws, government, and institutions were originally built.
America's Founding Fathers understood and proclaimed that all rights come from God alone, not governments. They insisted that government must always serve man and that man was created by God to be free. Their deep faith and reverence of the Almighty inspired and guided their actions and motivated their decisions. It is this belief and trust in God's authority and wisdom that ultimately transformed America from a tiny British colony with a handful of refugees to the mighty economic and military superpower and an oasis of freedom, opportunity, and prosperity for tens of millions of immigrants.
The Founding Fathers, like Solzhenitsyn, understood the dependence of freedom on morality. A virtuous and faithful people who placed God at the center of their lives and the foundations of their institutions helped America become that shining city on a hill "whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere," said President Ronald Reagan. "We've staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government," wrote James Madison, "far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us...to govern ourselves according to commandments of God. The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which the Constitution is founded."
This same theme is found throughout the writings of the Founders. John Adams clearly understood that our "Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." "He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country," observed Samuel Adams. Patrick Henry wrote that "virtue, morality, and religion ... is the armor that renders us invincible[.] ... [I]f we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed[.] ... [S]o long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger."
Solzhenitsyn warned that by forgetting God, America and the West faced a "calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness" that would weaken their foundations and make them vulnerable to moral decay and internal collapse. Only by turning back to God from the self-centered and atheistic humanism where "man is the touchstone [measure] in judging and evaluating everything on earth" would the West have any hope of escaping the destruction toward which it inevitably moves.
Unfortunately, America did not heed Solzhenitsyn's warnings. In the last several decades, America has been rapidly transformed from a God-fearing and worshiping nation into a secularist and atheistic society, where communist and atheistic ideals are glorified and promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are attacked, ridiculed, and increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation. Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called "liberal" and "progressive" elites, God and His moral laws have been progressively erased from our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.
"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants," warned William Penn. Throughout history, the most serious threats to man's freedom always arise when men refuse to acknowledge that God is ultimately the source and protector of real and lasting liberty and freedom. When that timeless truth is erased from men's consciousness, when God's wisdom and laws are forgotten, when morality is no longer a virtue to be treasured and emulated, when human life is no longer sacred, and man becomes the only standard of all that is true, then genuine freedom will begin to vanish from any group, institution, community, or society. Carnality, greed, selfishness, and worldly pleasure and power become the main goals of human existence. The moral and ethical clarity, conviction, and courage required to defend freedom and protect genuine liberty ultimately disappear, to be replaced by the most cruel, unethical, tyrannical, and godless ideologies.
It is no coincidence that advocates and followers of Fascism, Nazism, and Communism — all secular, immoral, atheistic, and godless ideologies — enslaved and murdered the greatest number of people in the history of mankind. All produced some of the most cruel, violent, and evil tyrants this world has ever known — despots who persecuted their own citizens, slaughtered the innocent, destroyed their own people, and brought calamities to other nations. All subjugated the liberty and property of men to the absolute power and control of the state. All were enemies of God and blasphemers of His Holy Scriptures. All viciously persecuted the most devout and religious members of their societies, primarily the religious Christians and Jews who righteously and faithfully followed the Lord.
This is the lesson the 20th century expended so much blood to teach us. It appears that without a marked change in course, the Western world is going to have to learn it again.
Read the entire article on the The Voice blog (new window will open).
Chris Banescu is an attorney, entrepreneur, and university professor. His business, ethics, and management articles and podcasts can be found on www.ChrisBanescu.com. He is a regular contributor to OrthodoxyToday.org, manages the conservative site www.OrthodoxNet.com, writes articles, and has given talks and conducted seminars on a variety of business and management topics. He has also written book reviews for Townhall.com and articles for Acton.org.