Which god?    God or god?

“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

Which God Saves Us home Who gets the credit home

Human Rights

January 19, 2011

There's a lot of talk about "God given rights" - especially with the Chinese President here on an official state visit. I thought it might be interesting to see what our own government documents say about "God given rights".

The U. S. Constitution says nothing about God, Creator or rights. Nothing.


The Bill of Rights says nothing about God or Creator given rights.


The 1st amendment to the Constitution does at least talk about religion -

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


But making no law respecting the establishment of religion would certainly rule out putting anything about "God given rights" - since many people don't believe in God. As we see all the time these days - anything that even comes close to Christianity brings up the 1st Amendment as a reason to not have government support.

If anything, the Constitution, as it is interpreted today, would seem to actually rule out God given rights as something that we are entitled to - since they would appear to be unconstitutional. This falls under the category of be careful what you ask for - because many people who don't believe in God do still want these "rights" - and count on the government to protect them.


Anyway - if it's not in the Constitution or any of the amendments -
where did this concept come from?


If you said the Declaration of Independence -
congratulations! You know your American History.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,


Even here, there are disputes as to what they actually meant by God.

But - there is no doubt that the Declaration of Independence acknowledges them - says they came from "God / the Creator" - defines a subset of them - and declares that it is the responsibility of the government to protect them.


How soon we forget.

The Declaration of Independence is dated July 4, 1776.

The drafting of the Constitution was completed on September 15, 1787. A mere 11 years later - God and the Creator are gone.

The Bill of Rights (12 amendments at the time, 2 of which were not approved) was sent out to the states for ratification on October 2, 1789. Two years after the constitution and 13 years after the Declaration of Independence - God is now banned from having governmental support by way of laws establishing religion.

Without getting into the reasons for why this was done - since that would be a whole series on it's own - let's just say the seeds were sown for what we have today.


Speaking of which - where are we today?


The Chinese President had this to say when questioned about his country's human rights issues:

China is always committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. And in the course of human rights, China has also made enormous progress, recognized widely in the world.


China recognizes and also respects the universality of human rights. And at the same time, we do believe that we also need to take into account the different and national circumstances when it comes to the universal value of human rights.


Not getting into the truth of lack of truth about China's track record on human rights - look at that second paragraph.

China believes in the universality of human rights. No God. No Creator. And - there's a "but". Even though human rights are universal - there are national interests that take precedence and will override those universal rights. Oops - I thought universal for the same for everyone in the universe (so to speak) - not different depending on which parts of the universe (or world) one happens to be in. In China - any universal rights that may have come from a Creator - are subservient to the ones that come from the "god" of government.

So what are these rights from the Chinese Constitution?

CHAPTER II. THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF CITIZENS

Article 33. All persons holding the nationality of the People's Republic of China are citizens of the People's Republic of China. All citizens of the People's Republic of China are equal before the law. Every citizen enjoys the rights and at the same time must perform the duties prescribed by the Constitution and the law.

Article 34. All citizens of the People's Republic of China who have reached the age of 18 have the right to vote and stand for election, regardless of nationality, race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status, or length of residence, except persons deprived of political rights according to law.

Article 35. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

Article 36. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.

Article 37. The freedom of person of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. No citizen may be arrested except with the approval or by decision of a people's procuratorate or by decision of a people's court, and arrests must be made by a public security organ. Unlawful deprivation or restriction of citizens' freedom of person by detention or other means is prohibited; and unlawful search of the person of citizens is prohibited. Article 38. The personal dignity of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. Insult, libel, false charge or frame-up directed against citizens by any means is prohibited.

Article 38. The personal dignity of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. Insult, libel, false charge or frame-up directed against citizens by any means is prohibited.

Article 39. The home of citizens of the People's Republic of China is inviolable. Unlawful search of, or intrusion into, a citizen's home is prohibited.

Article 40. The freedom and privacy of correspondence of citizens of the People's Republic of China are protected by law. No organization or individual may, on any ground, infringe upon the freedom and privacy of citizens' correspondence except in cases where, to meet the needs of state security or of investigation into criminal offences, public security or procuratorial organs are permitted to censor correspondence in accordance with procedures prescribed by law.

Article 41. Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions to any state organ or functionary. Citizens have the right to make to relevant state organs complaints and charges against, or exposures of, violation of the law or dereliction of duty by any state organ or functionary; but fabrication or distortion of facts with the intention of libel or frame-up is prohibited. In case of complaints, charges or exposures made by citizens, the state organ concerned must deal with them in a responsible manner after ascertaining the facts. No one may suppress such complaints, charges and exposures, or retaliate against the citizens making them. Citizens who have suffered losses through infringement of their civil rights by any state organ or functionary have the right to compensation in accordance with the law.

Article 42. Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the right as well as the duty to work. Using various channels, the state creates conditions for employment, strengthens labour protection, improves working conditions and, on the basis of expanded production, increases remuneration for work and social benefits. Work is the glorious duty of every able-bodied citizen. All working people in state enterprises and in urban and rural economic collectives should perform their tasks with an attitude consonant with their status as masters of the country. The state promotes socialist labour emulation, and commends and rewards model and advanced workers. The state encourages citizens to take part in voluntary labour. The state provides necessary vocational training to citizens before they are employed.

Article 43. Working people in the People's Republic of China have the right to rest. The state expands facilities for rest and recuperation of working people, and prescribes working hours and vacations for workers and staff.

Article 44. The state prescribes by law the system of retirement for workers and staff in enterprises and undertakings and for functionaries of organs of state. The livelihood of retired personnel is ensured by the state and society.

Article 45. Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the right to material assistance from the state and society when they are old, ill or disabled. The state develops the social insurance, social relief and medical and health services that are required to enable citizens to enjoy this right. The state and society ensure the livelihood of disabled members of the armed forces, provide pensions to the families of martyrs and give preferential treatment to the families of military personnel. The state and society help make arrangements for the work, livelihood and education of the blind, deaf-mute and other handicapped citizens.

Article 46. Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the duty as well as the right to receive education. The state promotes the all-round moral, intellectual and physical development of children and young people.

Article 47. Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the freedom to engage in scientific research, literary and artistic creation and other cultural pursuits. The state encourages and assists creative endeavours conducive to the interests of the people made by citizens engaged in education, science, technology, literature, art and other cultural work.

Article 48. Women in the People's Republic of China enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life, political, economic, cultural and social, and family life. The state protects the rights and interests of women, applies the principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women alike and trains and selects cadres from among women.

Article 49. Marriage, the family, and mother and child are protected by the state. Both husband and wife have the duty to practise family planning. Parents have the duty to rear and educate their minor children, and children who have come of age have the duty to support and assist their parents. Violation of the freedom of marriage is prohibited. Maltreatment of old people, women and children is prohibited.

Article 50. The People's Republic of China protects the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals residing abroad and protects the lawful rights and interests of returned overseas Chinese and of the family members of Chinese nationals residing abroad.

Article 51. The exercise by citizens of the People's Republic of China of their freedoms and rights may not infringe upon the interests of the state, of society and of the collective, or upon the lawful freedoms and rights of other citizens.

Article 52. It is the duty of citizens of the People's Republic of China to safeguard the unity of the country and the unity of all its nationalities.

Article 53. Citizens of the People's Republic of China must abide by the constitution and the law, keep state secrets, protect public property and observe labour discipline and public order and respect social ethics.

Article 54. It is the duty of citizens of the People's Republic of China to safeguard the security, honour and interests of the motherland; they must not commit acts detrimental to the security, honour and interests of the motherland.

Article 55. It is the sacred obligation of every citizen of the People's Republic of China to defend the motherland and resist aggression. It is the honourable duty of citizens of the People's Republic of China to perform military service and join the militia in accordance with the law.

Article 56. It is the duty of citizens of the People's Republic of China to pay taxes in accordance with the law.


That's a lot of rights!

OK - many of them are more like requirements - like the right to pay taxes and the right (and duty) to work - and the right (duty) to be in the armed forces.

And there's the little issue of the "but" clauses in many of them. For instance, Chinese people have freedom of religion, but

The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.

So the government gets to decide what is "normal" religion.
Anything that disrupts public order is prohibited.
Anything that is different from what is taught in the government schools is prohibited. That could certainly cause problems for the Bible right from the very beginning - namely Creation.
And that last part about foreign domination could rule out everything that didn't originate in China.


But wait! There's an amendment to Article 33 - passed on March 14, 2004!

It adds the following paragraph to the end -

The State respects and preserves human rights.

Given that this whole chapter is about rights and duties - all it really does is say that the State respects and preserves Chapter 2.

What about the U.S. What did President Obama have to say?

I reaffirmed America’s fundamental commitment to the universal rights of all people. That includes basic human rights like freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association and demonstration, and of religion -- rights that are recognized in the Chinese constitution. As I’ve said before, the United States speaks up for these freedoms and the dignity of every human being, not only because it’s part of who we are as Americans, but we do so because we believe that by upholding these universal rights, all nations, including China, will ultimately be more prosperous and successful.

There's that "universal" rights thing again. No God. No Creator.


In the end - our documents are shorter than China's.

But in the end - is it really any different?


And truly in the end - are any of these from God - the God who created us?

Or are they all from the State?


Last year, I was reading portions of a book called The Gospel According to Job, by Mike Mason, to do some research for a Bible Study group. Finally, I have some time to pick it up again and this time hopefully read all of it.


In writing about Job 1:21 -

Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will depart.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;

may the name of the LORD be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Mason says -

In many places in the world today we see people fighting and lobbying under the banner of Christianity for all sorts of human rights and freedoms, both personal and political. To what extent the Bible actually recognizes such rights is a complex question. But in terms of individual spirituality, at least, the mature Christian should know that he has no right even to the shirt on his back or to his next meal, let alone the right to vote, to have a pension, to enjoy good health, or to get eight hours of sleep every night. Strictly speaking the servant of Christ does not even have a right to his own private thoughts and feelings, whether they be good, bad or indifferent. As the Lord pointedly put it to a sulking Jonah, “Have you any right to be angry?” (4:4).

which is a reference to Jonah 4:1-4

Jonah’s Anger at the LORD'S COMPASSION

Jnh 4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Jnh 4:4 But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

where Jonah is upset because God showed compassion and Jonah didn't understand why.


God's promises for a better situation are a reference to our next life - in Heaven.

He promises that He will be with us in this life - but not that this life will be a piece of cake.

In this life - I think we have one God given right - to follow Him - or not.


Should we choose to follow the State - take those "universal" rights, which are changeable over time and variable depending on our place on the planet and who is in power at the moment - we get what we deserve. We get whatever the "government god" feels like giving us - or not. And when this life is over - absent repentance and turning to Jesus - we get two deaths - leaving the earth and entering Hell.


Should we choose to follow Jesus - take advantage of our right to follow Jesus - we get what we don't deserve. We get an unknown experience in this life - and an unknown experience in the next. The promise though - the next life is so unknown because we couldn't even begin to imagine how wonderful it will be.


As far as who gets the credit for "human rights" - the way they are generally talked about today - they are for humans - from humans.

The right that God gives us is far greater than these - much more important - and the result of our choice is eternal.


Which "god" are you following?

the State god?

or

God the Creator of us all and the Father of Jesus?