The Origin of Our Rights Under Law in America

I have been warned to stop engaging on the subject of the origin of our rights under law in America. But I have no fear of the controversy. And I have no fear of the notion of divine influence on our existence. I don’t know what you who choose to attack me as a heretic and/or an atheist don’t get about me. I was raised Catholic. I maintain my faith, suspect though it may be. But I believe what I suspect is the only way to rationalize faith in a secular society: my religion is not the rule for all in America.

And the failure of far too many to understand the separation of church and state – and in no small irony that phrase is from our Constitution, not from my mind, pushes me to want to discuss it more.

So… If you choose to separate religious rationale from reason, there is almost no logical way to arrive at the conclusion that legal rights in UNDER the American justice system as laid out in the Constitution – not the Declaration of Independence – involve any origin other than a secular/non-theistic one.
Two points. One: the formative document of our democracy, and the legal framework we are under, is the Constitution… Not the Declaration of Independence. The reason the declaration is used as a basis by many pushing for divine rights as law in America is because of all of the God – centric language included in it. I get the convenience but there is no relevance. The Constitution is the formative document. Period.

Second: under the U.S. Constitution, which was drafted by largely the same population that drafted the Declaration of Independence, there is not a single mention of the divine, the word God, the word creator, or anything connected thereto.
Coincidence? Probably not. The only mention of God is on the signature page signifying the year. The point is, the founders explicitly excluded the divine from their description of rights under law, specifically because this is a secular society… Not a theocracy.

Again – I am a Christian. Many Americans are Christians. But America is not a Christian nation. In fact, the founders and generations of leaders thereafter, have gone out of their way to secure the rights of those who believe whatever they want, Christian or otherwise as well as those who choose to believe that those of us who are Christian or otherwise are crazy.

You must be very careful, and suspicious, and scrutinizing of these blogs and other outlets that are trying to rile up Christians and other believers around the notion that their faith is under attack The attempt is to play upon your beliefs, and make you feel as if your beliefs are under assault. But that is not the case. Your beliefs are secured by the rights under the Constitution that allow freedom of belief. But your religion – my religion – is not the rule for all. That is true religious freedom.

Chris Cuomo is co-anchor of NEW DAY, CNN’s flagship morning news program When not anchoring NEW DAY, he covers stories the world over, including breaking news as it happens Catch Chris on CNN’s NEW DAY weekdays 6AM to 9AM EST