Revelation: Natural Rights Are Not Exclusive to Christians

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Guest Opinion

By David deMilo

People complain all the time that the nation is so divided and wonder why. Here’s your answer, 30-50 percent of the nation doesn’t understand why this nation was founded.

Case in point: On MSNBC, Politico’s Heidi Przybyla attacks Edmund Burke’s doctrine of natural rights in explaining what her “reporting” with “experts” has taught her about so-called Christian Nationalists, another fabricated movement by the Democrat Party (apparently White Supremacy didn’t cut it).

Heidi Przybyla attacks the doctrine of natural rights on MSNBC.

“The thing that unites them as Christian Nationalists, not Christians because Christian Nationalists are very different, is that they believe that our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God,” she explained. “The problem with that is that they are determining, men, are determining what God is telling them.”

Przybyla is unaware that you do not have to be a Christian, or a Nationalist, to believe in natural rights. Just an American.

John Podhoretz shot back on X, “Heidi Pryzbyla is a major DC political voice and apparently is unaware of the central revolutionary idea of the US–the idea that changed the world and made her life possible, that rights are not granted by government but are God-given and above govt.”

Pryzbyla responded to Podhoretz and others by saying she was pointing out that the doctrine of natural rights is interpreted by people based on what God tells them. No, Heidi, we don’t have to consult God to understand our natural rights in the context of the American nation. The framers took the trouble to write it down in the Bill of Rights, enumerating the powers of government so they would not tread upon natural rights.

The confusion begins when we interpret “rights” as applying to classes and groups of people, rather than to individuals.

Przybyla (or her “experts”) seems to have missed the part where Burke discusses how natural rights exist in the wilderness versus how they exist in a society, where people, through self-government, determine how we do not interfere with each other in exercising our natural rights.

This ignorance is evident whenever the topic of “American exceptionalism” comes up and people say we are the most resourceful and innovative, or the most courageous, or the most prosperous. Obama dismissed the idea entirely, saying that every country believes it is exceptional.

No, no, no and no. America is exceptional among nations because it was the first (maybe the only) nation to be founded on the idea that government exists to protect the individual rights of its citizens, and that the rights of citizens come from their Creator. That was an extremist idea – in 1776 – but it is the central idea upon which this country was founded and constituted. Not slavery, not white supremacy, not patriarchy, or empire, or the Divine Right of Kings.

The very simple idea that the human need to freely form relationships, make a living for oneself, think, worship and speak freely, and defend one’s life and property comes from a “Creator” (as the framers put it) is not extremist, or hasn’t been for over two centuries.

How Burke’s doctrine of natural rights came to be perceived as some anti-democrat artifact is puzzling, but it is not new. Recall how a much younger Joe Biden needled Clarence Thomas at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, with his characteristic insight and eloquence: “Now you believe in something called the doctrine of natural rights. Natural rights, that’s a big deal, isn’t it?”

There is nothing “anti-democratic” about natural rights, as Pryzbyla suggests. But it may well be anti-Democrat.

What’s most disturbing about her comments is that she is distorting a central idea of the enlightenment and the American founding to frame a class of people as an “extremist” enemy of the American state.

Also disturbing is the assertion of a state-approved view of Christianity. The Democrat Party (and their Republican fellow travelers) thinks that real Christians are meek chumps who let leftist bullies walk all over them.