“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville
“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville was a gifted writer and scholar of world politics during the 19th century. His books Democracy in America, and Democracy in America Vol. 2 are classics that should be required reading in every public school in America. A citizen of France, he often visited America and grew to love and admire the basic principles upon which America was built – which he clearly delineated in his voluminous books and papers. He understood by his study and observations, that the foundation on which the American Republic was built is the pure Christian Faith of the living and just God of the Holy Bible; that this spiritual foundation of true liberty was and is the key to maintaining “Liberty and Justice for All!”
Few honest, sincere people would deny that America in the year 2013 is in somewhat dire straits. If Tocqueville was alive today, I am confident that he would lament in his writings that the great American Republic he knew and so greatly admired has been systematically eroded into a socialist empire ruled by tyrannical elitists. I am also confident he would attribute this decline in no small measure to the erosion of basic Christian principles of GOODNESS as outlined in the Holy Bible.
The seeds of tyranny as well as the blessings of individual liberty are sown at the grassroots level of any country. If allowed to fester and grow first in the main streets of small-town America, tyranny of necessity will seek to limit public dissent and expand its seeds of corrupt power into the halls of state, then national government. As Tocqueville knew and understood so well, tyranny is planted and cultivated primarily by motives of greed and is in turn governed by a mindset that seeks to FORCE the collective will of the public, rather than stimulate open and honest debate amongst the populace. Conversely, the seeds of the time-tested and proven biblical concepts of liberty and justice embraced by America’s founders are sown and cultivated by a regiment of good and honest Christian pastors who thoroughly know the Holy Bible and who have embraced its principles in their daily walks. THIS is what Tocqueville meant when he observed that “America is great, because America is good.” It is classic “Good vs. Evil”.
In the small Northern Utah town of Brigham City, these basic concepts of Tyranny vs. Freedom outlined so well by Alexis de Tocqueville are being played out. In the geographical heart of the predominantly Mormon community of Brigham City, there is a small non-denominational Christian Church simply called Main Street Church. Main Street Church strives to embrace and teach ALL the New Testament principles outlined by Christ and His disciples. Christian charity and love abounds in this little grassroots, non-descript church. On Sunday, it’s “come as you are”. No white shirts and ties, nor expensive suits and fancy dresses are required, just an honest and pure heart is all that is needed to attend. This little “Body of Christ” distributes food and clothing free of charge to the needy, as well as peace and comfort to those who are ill and spiritually lost. They promote family values and help via supporting a community “pregnancy” or pro-life center. During Brigham City’s harvest festival called “Peach Days”, Main Street Church has for years opened its doors wide to the public to provide a welcome oasis for weary festival-goers to relax and enjoy a free drink and a bag of popcorn. In short, Main Street Church is the epitome of what is GOOD in America and undoubtedly has helped to make small-town Brigham City a nicer and safer place. So what’s the problem?
The problem from the Mormon viewpoint is that the leadership of Main Street Church tends to take rather seriously the biblical edict to share in love the basic principles outlined by Christ concerning what actually constitutes spiritual salvation with all the members of the community – including their LDS (Mormon) neighbors. When the LDS Church recently constructed a massive new temple just a few blocks away from Main Street Church, conflict began. During the “open house” phase prior to the official “dedication” of the secretive and restrictive LDS Temple, members of Main Street Church chose to exercise their basic 1st Amendment rights and peacefully assembled on the public sidewalk in order to distribute a tract that simply outlined the BIBLICAL and HISTORICAL basis of temples – and why they are no longer needed according to the teachings of Christ in the Holy Bible. In response, the tyrannical mindset of Brigham City’s elected officials (who are Mormon) was quickly manifest, as they outlawed such activity “for the safety of the public”. Again, remember that what tyranny fears above all is public dissent, and because of that, tyranny will quickly trample on 1st Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly in the process, according not only to Tocqueville, but also America’s wise founding fathers.
Now that Brigham City has a gleaming new “whited sepulcher” called an LDS Temple on Main Street, the town leadership has embarked on the implementation of a design to allow a gleaming new and modern hotel complex and development project to move forward in the heart of the town. The “master plan” drawings depict the hotel being designed to complement the city’s large (and currently mostly vacant and highly underutilized) “fine arts” building adjacent to Main Street Church. The drawings also depict an expanse of open grass where Main Street Church currently exists. For whatever reason, Brigham City’s future plans do not include an evangelical, bible-based Christian Church – but in its stead, a patch of very expensive grass is designed to replace it. Just how expensive is this projected patch of grass going to be to the citizens of Brigham City? It all depends on whether tyranny will be allowed to trump freedom.
The Pastor of Main Street Church made a decision to give a public presentation in open forum at the City Council meeting to show that the Church and the development project could easily co-exist. He asked to be placed on the agenda. He was denied. Once again he was not allowed to exercise his 1st Amendment rights. Once again, tyranny bared its ugly teeth.
Brigham City has tendered a purchase offer of just over $200,000 to Main Street Church pursuant to exercising the municipal government’s power of “eminent domain” and “condemnation” procedures. Considering that the fair market value of the land acreage itself is estimated at $500,000, and that the current 5,000 square foot building will cost around $600,000 to rebuild, the negotiations are far apart. Furthermore, honest logic demands there is much more to this “project” than simply downtown “redevelopment” and fair compensation.
For instance, in a similar-sized town called Cedar City in Southern Utah, a similar small-town redevelopment project occurred a few decades ago. In the geographical center of Cedar City’s downtown is a small, historical LDS Mormon Church called the “Old Rock Church” by its local residents. Like Main Street Church in Brigham City, it is an old building with a long and storied history. Unlike Main Street Church, however, it is owned by the predominant state religion and as such, any and all downtown “redevelopment” by its leaders focused on keeping the Church structure intact and to “build around it” rather than tear it down and plant grass where it once existed. No “eminent domain” and “condemnation” was ever even remotely considered by the Cedar City leadership concerning the “Old Rock Church”.
Keep in mind that America’s founding fathers enshrined in the 1st Amendment the doctrine and principle that a truly Republic form of government would not be allowed to establish a state religion at the expense of other expressions of religion. This is the primary TYRANNY that America’s founders sought to curtail – for they fully understood that RELIGIOUS TYRANNY is the most heinous and dangerous form.
One has to ask, if the quaint little Main Street Church of Brigham City was an active “Ward” building of the predominant state of Utah’s LDS Church, would there be a “master plan” showing vacant grass growing where the iconic Church currently sits? Would it even be considered?
Just how expensive is that patch of green grass, not only to the taxpayers of Brigham City but to America as a nation? What exactly is the ultimate cost of eliminating the 1st Amendment and the FREEEDOM it vouchsafes?
Consider in closing, this quote from Alexis de Tocqueville as found in his book “Democracy in America”: “Tyranny in democratic republics proceeds in the following way: It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.”
That projected little patch of Brigham City grass looks expensive indeed!