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Richard Harris is executive director of the Truth & Liberty Coalition. We seek to educate, unify and mobilize believers in Jesus Christ to affect the reformation of nations through the seven mountains of cultural influence.

Two hundred forty-five years ago last July, fifty-six Americans chosen by the legislative assemblies of the thirteen colonies, gathered in Philadelphia to make a critical decision. If they chose the safe path, the history of man’s relationship to government would continue on as it had for millennia—the relationship of master and slave. But, if they chose the courageous and principled path, they might just change the course of history forever.

The real decision they faced was, “What is an acceptable price to pay for freedom?”

All the Founders wanted freedom from British oppression, but were they really willing to pay the price to obtain it? In his galvanizing essay written five months later, Thomas Paine observed this about the cost of freedom:

What we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

For the Cause of Freedom

That first Fourth of July, our brave Founders decided that their freedom (and our freedom) was more “dear” than whatever it may cost to regain it. Having made that assessment, they boldly signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, wherein they publicly devoted their “lives, [their] fortunes and [their] sacred honor” for the cause.

From the Declaration, we know that their pledge was not just to obtain freedom in some vague sense, but rather, to build a nation on a specific biblical truth—“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.”

Hindsight informs us that truth is the only real foundation for true freedom. The Founders went on to lead a tireless minority that fought for eight long years. Their perseverance and faith transformed the ideals of the Declaration of Independence from hopeful idealism into the actual, governing principles of a new nation. In signing the Declaration, they knew, should they lose this bid for independence, they were actually signing their own death warrants. But because of their persevering faith and commitment, what they signed became our national birth certificate.

For the victory of the founding generation we owe thanks to God, first and foremost. But we also must gratefully remember the courage, conviction, sacrifice, and perseverance of those men and women, and of the many other generations that have paid the price to make and keep America free. This Thanksgiving, I have a newfound awareness of the reality that every generation must face the same question the Founders faced at Independence Hall.

Indeed, the first generation of American pioneers refused to turn back, despite almost unimaginable risk and hardship.

On November 9, 1620, one hundred two Christian refugees arrived at what we now call Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in a little ship called the Mayflower. Their aim was nothing less than the formation of a new Christian civilization, built on the authority of the Word of God and freedom of religion. A vast, unforgiving wilderness lay between them and their dreams of freedom. After five months of starvation, disease, and the bitter cold of a New England winter, only forty-seven of them were still alive. Yet, being fully persuaded of their calling, they resolutely persevered, rejecting the plea of the ship’s captain to sail with him back to the safety of England.

The Pilgrims went on to build that new civilization of freedom. And their commitment to biblical ideas became the seeds which, 145 years later, sprouted at Independence Hall in Philadelphia when the fifty-six brave heirs of the Pilgrims’ legacy signed the Declaration of Independence and birthed a new nation.

It is that freedom that is bequeathed to our generation. But we cannot take for granted that it will continue without our diligence. In a speech that seems prophetic now,

Ronald Reagan warned us:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Keeping the Flame Burning

I cannot help but sense that our holiday celebrations have a different aura this year, a more serious and weightier aura, than most of us living have seen before.

As a nation, we have faced many threats to our freedom, some of which were very serious indeed. The threats we have faced over the last two years, however, have been unprecedented—not because they are grave, but because they are no longer just external in nature. Indeed, the primary threats to liberty we face today are domestic in origin.

Wise leaders in our past recognized the possibility that our God-given freedom could be undermined by domestic enemies. That is why the time-honored oath for federal officers has long included the promise to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

In recent years, restrictions on the sacred rights of free speech and freedom of religion have reached levels that would have been unthinkable only a decade ago.

Censorship and punishment of patriotic and biblically based viewpoints have become commonplace. The most powerful agencies of the federal government have been used as political weapons, fabricating criminal prosecutions designed to remove democratically appointed leaders and ignoring crimes by adherents to the favored clan. The election system of the nation has been corrupted, our border has been overrun, and Congress has come within one vote of passing a law that would enshrine as a “civil right” conduct which God calls an abomination.

What’s more, this Thanksgiving, we look back over a scheme of government oppression in response to COVID-19 that defies belief. Within the last twenty months, millions of Americans embraced the shutdown of churches, schools, and businesses, mandatory masks, travel bans, vaccine passports, and absolutely obscene government spending, all in the name of protecting us from a pandemic which the government helped start in the first place (through funding of a Communist Chinese laboratory). The majority’s acquiescence to the COVID-19 regime was facilitated through the constant fearmongering, manipulation of health statistics, and restricted access to information imposed by the leftists, deep state, and captive media.

Reawakening to Freedom

I believe, however, that the roots of the tree of liberty in America are still alive. The attack on our national identity and fundamental ideals has been grave and serious. But the tree is bouncing back, and the fresh sprouts of truth and freedom are emerging from the ashes all over the nation.

Countless Americans are re-awakening to the true, heaven-sent heritage of this amazing country. America is not a socialist nation, a secular nation, or a systemically racist nation. It is a nation established on an eternal and immutable “self-evident” truth about the God-given dignity of each one of us.

But the resurgence of freedom I sense today is still nascent and incomplete. In reality, we are faced on this Thanksgiving with the same question that faced the Founders: What price are we willing to pay for the celestial article of freedom? Are we willing, like they did, to pledge our “lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” to rebuild it?

Will we, in this generation, heed the prophetic warning of Ronald Reagan to fight and protect freedom so we can hand it on to our children as it has been handed on to us? I believe we will do these things. But my optimism isn’t really what matters. Your obedience (and mine) to the call is what matters.

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