This letter is my “grain of salt” to the commentary piece published (print edition only) on July 3, “The Declaration, the Constitution and the Bible,” by Daniel L. Dreisbach. He argues that the Bible, both Old and New Testament, were the primary philosophical basis of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and he has made a career as a proponent of this view. Unfortunately, Dreisbach understates or ignores the influence of the evolution of British constitutional history, from divine-right kings, e.g. James I, to the emergence of early parliamentary democracy by the 1700s. He ignores the appeal the history of Greek and Roman democracies had on the enlightenment men who were the authors of the Declaration and the Constitution. He downplays the obvious influence of John Locke on the language of the Declaration (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”), the influence of Baron de Montesquieu on the Constitution (separation of powers), and the influence of the concept of “natural law” from Aristotle used by both Locke and Montesquieu. Note that the Constitution (before it was amended) mentioned religion only once, and that was to prohibit any religious test as a condition for holding public office.
Fred Frahm, Boise
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