God, the Founders, and the Purpose of Human Government

The American people have been experiencing a significant level of confusion regarding the purpose of civil government. Perhaps the prevailing sentiment of the population is that the core purpose of government is to collect money from citizens (via the IRS) so that elected politicians can make decisions regarding the distribution and dispersal of those funds. This serious misconception has led to a plethora of errors and harmful societal circumstances: a bloated, insatiable federal government that is in the throes of unprecedented, debilitating debt, a corresponding failure of elected officials to focus on their true purpose, a host of citizens who think the government exists to redistribute monetary assistance to them, and the list goes on. Meanwhile, the central purpose of government—the very reason the Founders established a federal government—is being neglected to the extent that citizens are encountering increasing danger to their lives. Perhaps even more tragic, the very government intended to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has assumed an adversarial role in which it persecutes those who hesitate to go along with its oppressive socialistic, anti-Christian, “politically correct” agenda.

What’s more, many Americans have been indoctrinated in the public school system with the idea that “separation of church and state” is true, that the government should have nothing to do with religion—except to suppress it in government, school, and public life.1 This indoctrination is so thorough and pervasive that few consider the fact that God has expressed His view on the subject. Indeed, the sole source of infallibly correct thinking—the Bible—addresses these concerns, articulating very precisely the divine purpose of civil government. What does the inspired Word of God say regarding the purpose of human government?

The Bible

Perhaps before answering that question, we should ask the prior question: “Did God intend for humans to form a government?” Yes, He did. The Bible states definitively: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1, emp. added). Another inspired apostle stated: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Jesus, Himself, had previously expressed what His apostles later wrote. He implied the validity of human government when He declared: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Nebuchadnezzar’s dream included the realization “that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). So, yes, human government is authorized and ordained by God and fully in keeping with His principle of authority that pervades all of life.2

What, then, does the Bible say about the purpose of the divinely authorized entity of human government? The Bible states explicitly that the central purpose and role of government is to maintain order, peace, protection, safety, and stability in society which, in turn, enables citizens to live their lives in freedom. Consider, for example, Paul’s lengthy discussion of civil government in his admonitions to Christians in the capital city—the heart—of the Roman Empire:

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Romans 13:3-4, emp. added).

Observe: “a terror to evil works” (vs. 3) and “an avenger to execute wrath on him who does evil” (vs. 4). Peter expressed these same thoughts when he also addressed the subject:

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good (1 Peter 2:13-14, emp. added).

Observe:“for the punishment of evildoers” and “praise of those who do good” (vs. 14). Commenting on this passage, Guy N. Woods remarked: “the design, incidentally, of all civil authority—was (a) to punish the wicked, and (b) encourage good works by protecting those engaged therein.”3 In his remarks to Timothy, Paul again noted this same purpose:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2, emp. added).

Observe again: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” (i.e., protected from those who would disturb that peace). Even the pagan attorney Tertullus, who acted on behalf of the high priest in bringing formal charges against Paul before the Roman governor Felix, noted in passing the purpose of civil government:

And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying: “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness” (Acts 24:2-3, emp. added).

Observe: through the civil magistrate, i.e., the government, “we enjoy great peace, and prosperity,” i.e., we are protected from those who would disrupt the peace, enabling us freely to exercise our right to pursue our vocations and the prosperity such brings. The government does not guarantee, let alone provide, prosperity; it simply ensures a peaceful atmosphere in which citizens can pursue their vocations and earn their living unhampered by thugs, thieves, and other criminals.

Hence, while not discounting subsidiary functions, the Bible states very succinctly that the essential thrust of human government—its core function—is to maintain order, peace, protection, safety, and stability in society so that citizens may be permitted to live their own lives and have the freedom to make their own decisions. This arrangement is God’s will. However, recall again Paul’s words to Timothy:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2, emp. added).

Why should we pray for the government? So that our lives might be “quiet and peaceable”—the objective and purpose of the government as intended by God. But what is the purpose of having a peaceful, undisturbed, unmolested life? So that we might live life “in all godliness and reverence.” God wants people to make wise, spiritual decisions as they live their lives in anticipation of eternity. That is their purpose for existence (Ecclesiastes 12:13). But whether they do or don’t, civil government is divinely designed to create an environment where citizens are not molested by internal or external assailants.

america’s founders

Every American ought to be grateful to live in a country where its Founding Fathers understood God’s view of human government and, consequently, implemented that same view in their efforts to establish the Republic. They were very forthright in their expression of the purpose of government and what they envisioned were the enumerated sub-purposes. Hear them:

Though not an American Founder, the British empiricist philosopher and physician John Locke (1632-1704), widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers, exerted a considerable influence on the thinking of the Founders. They certainly agreed with his assessment of the purpose of human government: “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property,” with “property” defined as “their lives, Liberties and estates.”4 Another Englishman with whom the Founders agreed on this point was British jurist, judge, and politician of the Founding Era Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), most noted for his Commentaries on the Laws of England which profoundly influenced the Founders and the formation of American law.5 He explained: “For the principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which are vested in them by the immutable laws of nature.”6

Apart from these weighty influences, the Founders themselves expressed pointed views of the purpose of government. In a sermon preached in Cambridge before the Massachusetts House of Representatives on May 30, 1770, prominent New England preacher Samuel Cooke pinpointed the true intention of government: “Civil government…the sole end and design of which is…the public benefit, the good of the people; that they may be protected in their persons, and secured in the enjoyment of all their rights, and to be enabled to lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.”7 Five years later, on May 31, 1775, a month after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, Harvard College President Samuel Langdon delivered a sermon to the Massachusetts Congress titled “Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness.” Distinguished scholar, theologian, and charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and delegate to the New Hampshire convention that adopted the U.S. Constitution, he, too, understood the central role of government:

Thanks be to God that he has given us, as men, natural rights, independent of all human laws whatever…. By the law of nature, any body of people, destitute of order and government, may form themselves into a civil society, according to their best prudence, and so provide for their common safety and advantage.8

On July 6, 1775, one year before declaring independence, the Continental Congress issued a declaration articulating precisely why they felt compelled to take up arms against their mother country. Obviously, they felt the government had gone awry (notice the extent to which they connect the purpose of government with God’s will on the matter):

If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason, to believe, that the Divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the Inhabitants of these Colonies might at least require from the Parliament of Great Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverence for our great Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end.9

In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birth-right, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it—for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our fore-fathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms.10

The Founding Fathers, en masse, believed that the role of government was to protect its citizens.

John Jay

John Jay was a brilliant Founder with a long and distinguished career in the formation and shaping of American civilization from the beginning. He not only was a member of the Continental Congress from 1774-1776, serving as its President from 1778-1779, he also helped to frame the New York State Constitution and then served as the Chief Justice of the New York State Supreme Court. He co-authored the Federalist Papers, was appointed as the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by George Washington, served as Governor of New York, and was the vice-president of the American Bible Society from 1816 to 1821. Here was his description of the purpose of government:

[W]ickedness rendered human government necessary to restrain the violence and injustice resulting from it. To facilitate the establishment and administration of government, the human race became, in the course of Providence, divided into separate and distinct nations. Every nation instituted a government, with authority and power to protect it against domestic and foreign aggressions. Each government provided for the internal peace and security of the nation, by laws for punishing their offending subjects. The law of all the nations prescribed the conduct which they were to observe towards each other, and allowed war to be waged by an innocent against an offending nation, when rendered just and necessary by unprovoked, atrocious, and unredressed injuries.11

Jay insightfully observed that God instituted human government in order to enact a restraining influence on the propensity of human beings to harm each other.

Alexander Hamilton was another prominent Founder, serving as an artillery Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel/Aide-de-camp to General Washington in the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the Continental Congress, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, co-author of the Federalist Papers, and Secretary of the Treasury under President Washington. In The Federalist, No. 15, dated December 1, 1787, Hamilton asked: “Why has government been instituted at all?  Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”12 Government is intended to constrain lawbreakers.

Another patriot preacher of the Founding era was Samuel West, who served as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War and was an influential member of the Convention that formed the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts, and also of the Convention for the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. In an election-day sermon preached before the Massachusetts House of Representatives on May 29, 1776, sometimes titled “On the Right to Rebel against Governors,” West noted the role of government:

Men of unbridled lusts, were they not restrained by the power of the civil magistrate, would spread horror and desolation all around them. This makes it absolutely necessary that societies should form themselves into politic bodies, that they may enact laws for the public safety, and appoint particular penalties for the violation of their laws, and invest a suitable number of persons with authority to put in execution and enforce the laws of the state, in order that wicked men may be restrained from doing mischief to their fellow-creatures, that the injured may have their rights restored to them, that the virtuous may be encouraged in doing good, and that every member of society may be protected and secured in the peaceable, quiet possession and enjoyment of all those liberties and privileges which the Deity has bestowed upon him, i.e., that he may safely enjoy and pursue whatever he chooses, that is consistent with the public good. This shows that the end and design of civil government cannot be to deprive man of their liberty or take away their freedom; but, on the contrary, the true design of civil government is to protect men in the enjoyment of liberty.13

Constitution signer, co-author of the Federalist Papers, and fourth U.S. President, James Madison, in a speech at the Virginia Convention in 1829, stated: “It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.”14 Quintessential Founder Thomas Jefferson pinpointed this same function of government in his second presidential inaugural address, likewise linking God and religion to its purpose:

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government.… entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter—with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.15

Declaration signer Samuel Adams, considered the “Firebrand of the Revolution” and “The Father of the American Revolution,” was vociferous in his pronouncements of the proper role of the government. In his monumental “Rights of the Colonists,” he explained:

Government was instituted for the purposes of common defence…. [T]he grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property.16

Writing in the Boston-Gazette on Monday, December 19, 1768 under the pseudonym “Vindex,” Adams expounded that “the only true basis of all government [are] the laws of God and nature. For government is an ordinance of Heaven, design’d by the all-benevolent Creator, for the general happiness of his rational creature, man.”17 Alluding to the “fundamental principle of nature and the constitution, that what is a man’s own, is absolutely his own, and that no man can have a right to take it from him without his consent,” Adams maintained:

It is against the plain and obvious rule of equity, whereby the industrious man is intitled [sic] to the fruits of his industry: It weakens the best cement of society, as it renders all property precarious: And it destroys the very end for which alone men can be supposed to submit to civil government; which is not for the sake of exalting one man, or a few men, above their equals, that they may be maintained in splendor and greatness; but that each individual, under the joint protection of the whole community, may be the Lord of his own possession, and sit securely under his own vine.18

So to Adams, the purpose for a community of people to form a government is to create “joint protection” for all citizens as each exerts his own efforts to prosper. Adams’ allusion to each person being enabled to sit under his own vine is taken from the Old Testament prophet Micah (4:4). That same year, in a letter sent by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to their agent in London, Dennis DeBerdt, the purpose of government is identified in the words: “The security of right and property is the great end of government.”19

As tensions increased between the Americans and Britain, the First Provincial Congress of Massachusetts issued a letter to newly appointed British military Governor Lieutenant General Thomas Gage, appealing to him to cease and desist from the hostile preparations being made, which included the construction of military fortifications at the entrance to Boston. The letter, dated Thursday, October 13, 1774, contains a reminder of the proper purpose of government:

Your excellency must be sensible that the sole end of government is the protection and security of the people. Whenever, therefore, that power, which was originally instituted to effect these important and valuable purposes, is employed to harass, distress, or enslave the people, in this case it becomes a curse rather than a blessing.20

In “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments,” Thomas Jefferson offered a further description of the purpose of human government:

Whereas, it frequently happens that wicked and dissolute men, resigning themselves to the dominion of inordinate passions, commit violations on the lives, liberties, and property of others, and, the secure enjoyment of these having principally induced men to enter into society, government would be defective in its principal purpose, were it not to restrain such criminal acts, by inflicting due punishments on those who perpetrate them.21

Prominent Founder John Adams stated the purpose succinctly in these words: “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”22 The state constitution of Massachusetts, believed to be largely the work of Adams, provides a more extensive definition of the purpose of government in its Preamble:

The end of the institution, maintenance, and administration of government, is to secure the existence of the body politic, to protect it, and to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights, and the blessings of life: and whenever these great objects are not obtained, the people have a right to alter the government, and to take measures necessary for their safety, prosperity and happiness.23

Though Thomas Paine fell into disrepute in the 1790s all across America when he published The Age of Reason, nevertheless, he was a significant Founder at the beginning. His wording of the purpose of government was given in his treatise The Rights of Man for the Use and Benefit of All Mankind:

Government is nothing more than a national association; and the object of this association is, the good of all, as well individually, as collectively. Every man wishes to pursue his occupation, and to enjoy the fruits of his labours, and the produce of his property, in peace and safety, and with the least possible expence. When these things are accomplished, all the objects for which government ought to be established, are answered.24

Another Founding era preacher, Dan Foster of Connecticut, articulated the same sentiment in his “A Short Essay on Civil Government:”

For ‘tis for the good of the state and people, that every one and the whole community, may enjoy their persons and properties free of all molestations, invasions, rapines and invasions whatsoever, that civil government is erected; and these great ends must be kept in sight and direct…. Our proposition asserts that the people have a natural and inherent right to appoint and constitute a [government] over them, for their civil good, liberty, protection, peace and safety…. to defend and secure to the people the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of their persons and properties.25

Harvard graduate and Founding era preacher from Duxbury, Massachusetts, Charles Turner, delivered an election sermon before the Massachusetts-Bay government in 1773, declaring:

God would have His civil ministers to prove, a terror to evil works; to punish evil doers—by salutary laws, honestly and honorably executed, to save the state from foreign injurious invaders…and to prevent the peoples suffering, from one another, as to life, property, or any of their rights.26

These citations could be multiplied extensively. They may be summarized in the words of the Declaration of Independence which the Founders crafted to articulate clearly the infringements of the British government under which they lived:

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, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.27


It’s as if rank and file Americans at the inception of the nation were widely educated in the principles of government and were attuned to the essentiality of government fulfilling its God-assigned responsibilities. Make no mistake: the freedom which they believed was endangered by the usurpations of the British government was not the 1960s “do your own thing” “freedom” which promoted the overthrow of the prevailing social mores in America. Far from it. They would have viewed such “freedom” to be licentiousness and immoral. Rather, they envisioned the freedom that they considered inherent in the creation of human beings by God—the unalienable right to live on the Earth in order to make one’s own choices in anticipation of eternity.

When the government loses sight of the function for which it was created, citizens are hampered in their efforts to achieve the purpose for which they were created: to obey God. Tragically, more than ever before in its 230 year history, America is experiencing severe convulsion due to the distortion of the role of government that prevails on virtually every level—local, state, and federal. Government has assumed a measure of control over the lives of its citizens that it has no right to exert, exceeding the limits envisioned by both God and the Founders. Citizens are being threatened, bullied, harassed, and intimidated by government to accept a redefinition of marriage and to embrace gender confusion as normal. They are being pressured to ignore the threat to national security posed by the blanket acceptance of foreigners who disdain the religion of Christ and the values upon which the Republic was built.28 The government has placed Americans under severe, nonconsensual financial burdens.29

It is bad enough that the government has ventured into illicit areas of activity. But, in the meantime, it has neglected, if not forsaken, its central purpose of providing adequate security for its law-abiding citizens. Is it coincidental that prisons are full while the government wages war on religious expression? Ask yourself these questions: Do I feel safer or less safe than at any other time in my life? Do I feel that my life and my property (i.e., home and possessions) are more secure or less secure? In my attempt to live a peaceful, serene, undisturbed lifestyle, do I feel the government is a friend and ally, or is it hostile and part of the problem?

The time has come for the nation to return to its moorings. The time has come for a massive spiritual and moral awakening, lest God say to America what He said to Israel of old: “‘Shall I not punish them for these things?’ says the LORD. ‘And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?’” (Jeremiah 5:9,29; 9:9).


1 See the DVD Separation of Church and State? available at:

2 For a discussion of the crucial principle of authority, see Dave Miller (2012), Surrendering to His Lordship (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

3 Guy N. Woods (1962), A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate), p. 72.

4 John Locke (1821), Two Treatises of Government (London: Whitmore & Fenn), Book II, Chapter IX, p. 295.

5 Thomas Jefferson noted that the standing sentiment of American lawyers was that “Blackstone is to us what the Alcoran is to the Mahometans”—“Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, May 26, 1810,” The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress,”

6 Sir William Blackstone (1765), Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press), Book I, Chapter I, 1:120, emp. added.

7 Samuel Cooke (1770), The True Principles of Civil Government, A Sermon Preached at Cambridge, in the Audience of His Honor Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Lieutenant-Governor and Commander in Chief; The Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, May 30th, 1770 (Boston, MA: Edes and Gill), p. 159,;view=fulltext.

8 Samuel Langdon (1775), Government Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by Righteousness (Watertown, MA: Benjamin Edes), p. 23, italics in orig., emp. added.

9 Continental Congress (1775), A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North America, Now Met in General Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, 2:140,156, emp. added,

10 Ibid., emp. added.

11 William Jay (1833), The Life of John Jay (New York: J.&J. Harper), 2:393-394, emp. added.

12 Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison (1911), The Federalist or the New Constitution (New York: E.P. Dutton), pp. 71-72, emp. added.

13 Samuel West (1776), A Sermon Preached Before the Honorable Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New-England. May 29, 1776. Being the Anniversary for the Election of the Honorable Council for the Colony (Boston, MA: John Gill), pp. 13-14, emp. added.

14 Ritchie and Cook, eds. (1830), Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-30 (Richmond, VA: Samuel Shepherd), p. 537, emp. added.

15 Thomas Jefferson (1801), “First Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, emp. added,

16 William Wells (1866), The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Co.), 1:504, emp. added.

17 The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal (1768), No. 716, Monday, December 19, 1768, p. 1.

18 Ibid., italics in orig., emp. added.

19 The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal (1768), No. 679, Monday, April 4, p. 1, emp. added.

20 William Lincoln, ed. (1838), The Journals of each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety (Boston, MA: Dutton and Wentworth), p. 17.

21 Thomas Jefferson (1853), “A Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments,” in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. H.A. Washington (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Maury), 1:147, emp. added.

22 John Adams (1805), Discourses on Davila (Boston, MA: Russell and Cutler), p. 92.

23 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “Preamble,” emp. added,

24 Thomas Paine (1795), The Rights of Man for the Use and Benefit of All Mankind (London: Daniel Isaac Eaton), p. 97, emp. added.

25 Dan Foster (1775), A Short Essay on Civil Government (Hartford, CT: Ebenezer Watson), pp. 14,27, emp. added.

26 Charles Turner (1773), A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Governor: The Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, May 26th. 1773 (Boston, MA: Richard Draper), pp. 10-11, italics in orig., emp. added.

27 Declaration of Independence (1776), Library of Congress, emp. added,

28 See Dave Miller (2016), “Should Christians Favor Accepting Syrian Refugees?” Reason & Revelation, 36[4]:45-47.

29 Writing ca. 1817, James Madison noted: “The people of the U. S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprized [sic] in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.” If the Founders were outraged over the violation of the principle underlying a three cent tax, they would be incredulous at the extent to which Americans tolerate oppressive governmental taxation without their knowledge—let alone consent (e.g., the tax on cell phone bills that funds free phone giveaways). See “Detached Memoranda,” The Founders’ Constitution, ed. Philip Kurland and Ralph Lerner (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press), Volume 5, Amendment I (Religion), Document 64,

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