On September 15, President Barack Obama addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 33rd Annual Awards. In his remarks, he made reference to the Declaration of Independence. He said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the president’s words:
There are several errors here, though only one that really matters. On a small scale, Jefferson chose “unalienable” instead of “inalienable,” and following the word “rights” there is no colon: instead it should read, “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What really matters, however, is the omission of any reference to God: after “equal” it should read, “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….”
Some are blaming the president for this error, but it is his speech writers, and those who vetted his address, who are to blame. The prepared remarks, as released by the White House, omit the word “Creator.” Since this got by so many in the White House, it makes us wonder whether only incompetence was at work. While Obama may be given a pass, it is striking nonetheless that this omission got by a former constitutional law professor.
There are four references to God in the Declaration. God is the author of the “laws of nature and nature’s God”; he is the “Creator” who “endowed” us with “unalienable rights”; he is “the Supreme Judge of the world”; and he provides “the protection of Divine Providence.” As a former professor of political science, I made sure my students understood this, but evidently none of those who write or vet the president’s speeches learned this in college. They should pay more attention, especially given the suspicion that Obama likes his religion lite.
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