STAND FAST IN LIBERTY
[Adapted from a speech given by Marie Rogerson, Executive Director of Program Development, at the Joyful Warrior National Summit July 2022]
My husband is a Marvel fanatic. He read comic books as a kid and may have convinced me to let him buy one autographed by Stan Lee shortly before Stan passed. He is always so excited to get me to watch Marvel movies. Before we’re allowed to click play I have to endure a mini Ted Talk on the origin story of the characters. He tells me how they grew up, what happened in previous movies that might tie in, how the director chose to interpret “cannon”, and so much more.
Truthfully, he normally gives up a few minutes in when he sees my eyes start to glaze over because I just want to get on with the show. Today, I hope you won’t find yourselves in that situation, eyes glazing over, as I share a little insight into our origin story as Moms for Liberty and touch on the importance of the word Liberty in our name.
Let’s go back to 2020 when, as fate would have it, Tina and I both lost our elections (yay us). We found ourselves with some unanticipated time on our hands and nowhere to devote the drive we had to fix our country. So as any normal person would do, we decided to start a “book club” to study the founding documents. Nothing nerdy to see here.
We called ourselves liberty ladies and met every two weeks to read the declaration of independence and constitution with a close group of friends. It took us months to get through the declaration, which you could literally read aloud in 20 minutes. We dissected every word and phrase and discussed what the founders were going through at the time it was written as well as how we saw their words being applied today.
It was over that time frame that Tiffany and Tina began having conversations that would later become what you see with Moms for Liberty today. From that little group was born our Madison Meetup Program. They were the first to ever don a Moms for Liberty t-shirt. Some of those original liberty ladies joined us at our first National Summit.
As we spent months deep in the founding doctrine of our nation, I noticed something.
Freedom was missing, more particularly the word itself. The word freedom never appears in the Declaration of Independence nor in the main body of the Constitution. It is in fact only found once in the Amendments where it is included in the phrase “freedom of speech”. Both documents, however, mention Liberty.
In the Declaration we find,
“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.”
And the Constitution echoes it with,
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
I found myself wondering about the difference between the two words. Why have ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ if they mean the same thing? There must be a difference and why the emphasis on ‘liberty’?
In the Federalist Papers, essays published to encourage the ratification of the Constitution, the word liberty is used nearly 150 times. By comparison, the word freedom was used no more than 8 times.
I began researching the words in many settings including the bible which tells us to “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free”. A clear instance driving home a distinction between the words.
I uncovered instances where, undoubtedly, the words were used interchangeably but there were also those that provide clarity as to the meaning of the word liberty. For example, it was Thomas Jefferson who said,
“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?”
Liberty it would seem from my research, has a moral foundation. I see it this way- freedom is a spectrum. At one end is chaos, where you have total freedom but nothing to guide your use of it- no moral code to direct your choices. On the opposite side is liberty, the highest version of freedom, wherein you use your freedoms righteously. The interesting thing about this sliding scale is that the closer you get to liberty the freer you become.
When you use your freedom to choose to do good and live morally, you are not weighed down by vice, intertwined in lies, or burdened with debt.
Following a moral code or the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God”, as the founders put it in the Declaration, brings true freedom. Let’s look at that phrase: the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.
THE LAWS OF NATURE AND NATURE’S GOD
What are the laws of nature? Gravity is a clear one, but also by nature we have a biological sex. Believing you can change that violates an aspect of nature’s law.
Returning to the phrase, it states the laws of nature and nature’s god. What are the laws of Nature’s God? Put simply it is the ten commandments. The moral code by which, until recently, most people accepted that we should live.
The founders’ placement of this one simple phrase is crucial because it lays the groundwork for the government they established. They believed in obeying the laws of nature and Nature’s God and established a system of government based on that. Any legislative law that violates the laws of nature and Nature’s God goes against the very spirit of our Constitution and what our Founders aimed to accomplish.
It was George Washington who wrote:
“A good moral character is the first essential in a man…It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.”
And John Adams stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
There must be right and wrong for there to be morals. The world we live in now would erase the line between the two, and has been terrifyingly effective at doing so. What ten years ago would have been dismissed as ridiculous and unfounded, is now mainstream and affirmed. Despite woke insistence, there is no “your truth” or “my truth” there is only THE TRUTH and that comes from a singular eternal source.
PROMOTE THE PRINCIPLES OF LIBERTY
When we interview new chapter chairs before they launch a chapter we ask them an important question: where do our rights come from? While we are not a religious organization and do not require a belief in God, we do require that our leaders know that our rights come from the creator. You can call it the universe, God, nature, whatever you want- you have that right. That right, our rights exist by nature they are not gifted to us by a piece of paper or a politician.
You must know where our rights come from to adequately defend them.
It is our hope that you live up to those rights and promote the principles of liberty. The principles of liberty point us to morality and righteousness. They point us to freedom and independence. They point us to activity.
Ezra Taft Benson, former United States Secretary of Agriculture once poignantly stated “If we lose our freedom, it will be because we did not care enough- because we were not alert enough- because we were too apathetic to take note while the precious waters of our God-given freedom slipped- drop by drop- down the drain.”
We must be active, we must care, we must be alert and awake. We must not give in to fear. When the opposition protests and holds signs proclaiming that you cannot love liberty and ban books remember; first, we are not banning books; but, because liberty has a moral foundation, you absolutely can demand that sexually explicit, corrupt text be removed or restricted because that is the RIGHT thing to do.
It was Alexis De Tocqueville, a French historian who wrote:
“America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
We cannot cease. We must strive for the good and banish the bad. We must repeat the truth again and again because as someone once said, error is constantly being preached round about.
It is our hope that you are energized to proclaim liberty throughout the land, to teach your children to be good and to seek the truth.
To close I’d like to borrow some famous lines from Patrick Henry,
“They tell us that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be next week or next year?...Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?...we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides,…we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle…is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave….I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
We have friends who are fighting our battles now. We are strong. Our enemy underestimates the power of valiant motherhood. We stand as 100,000 now but one day we will stand as 3 million, invincible because we stand on the side of eternal truth and righteousness- that is the side of Liberty.
Godspeed in your efforts Joyful Warriors. Thank you for being vigilant, active, and brave. Please continue to make a respectful ruckus- it is music to our ears.