The country of my birth talks a lot about liberty and freedom and we’re approaching our Independence Day on July 4th. This has me thinking a little about our liberties. Simply put, liberty is our freedom to have control over our own actions and take responsibility for our actions. I say we must take responsibility for our actions because sometimes people want to push their responsibilities off on imaginary friends. I see liberty as the gift we give each other when we value our own individual lives. Liberty isn’t something granted to our existence through the kindness of a god as our master. Robert Ingersoll said this of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin in one of his most popular lectures, titled Individuality:
They knew that to put God in the Constitution was to put man out. They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized upon by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought. They knew the terrible history of the church too well to place in her keeping, or in the keeping of her God, the sacred rights of man. They intended that all should have the right to worship, or not to worship; that our laws should make no distinction on account of creed. They intended to found and frame a government for man, and for man alone. They wished to preserve the individuality and liberty of all; to prevent the few from governing the many, and the many from persecuting and destroying the few.
Ingersoll provided two different ways to live with many example contrasts for the natural or supernatural in his lecture Which Way? He spoke of people depriving others liberty when they lack the courage to enjoy their human rights. When you put yourself under the yoke and command of religion then you see no problem with turning others into servants as well to further justify your subservience.
One way is to be an honest man, giving to others your thought, standing erect, intrepid, careless of phantoms and hells.
The other way is to cringe and crawl, to betray your nobler self and to deprive others of the liberty that you have not the courage to enjoy.
Ingersoll said liberty was his religion in his lecture called About The Holy Bible where he speaks about the people that believe in the Bible.
They forget its ignorance and savagery, its hatred of liberty, its religious persecution; they remember heaven, but they forget the dungeon of eternal pain. They forget that it imprisons the brain and corrupts the heart. They forget that it is the enemy of intellectual freedom. Liberty is my religion. Liberty of hand and brain — of thought and labor, liberty is a word hated by kings — loathed by popes. It is a word that shatters thrones and altars — that leaves the crowned without subjects, and the outstretched hand of superstition without alms. Liberty is the blossom and fruit of justice — the perfume of mercy. Liberty is the seed and soil, the air and light, the dew and rain of progress, love and joy.
Trying to spread and apply religion to every person in a society is counter to the ideals of liberty. Religious beliefs and faith do not lead to freedom and in my view do not lead to true happiness. On this 4th of July when you think about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, think also about the liberty and happiness of those of us that don’t believe in your religion if you have faith in one. In return, I’ll think about your liberty and happiness and your society given right to keep your religion and leave me out of it.