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Religious Reflections

We are not being vigilant enough

by Pastor Larry D. Mays

Summer has arrived and we are approaching the first holiday of the season, Independence Day, the Fourth of July. This is the day that marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I think it prudent for us all to read that document which states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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."

Our Constitution of the United States of America is written on the foundation of the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence. But sadly, some of the principles are being eroded away by our intellectual rationalizing Supreme Court. We have been told over two hundred years ago that vigilance is the price of liberty. I think that we are not being vigilant.

The book of Revelation in chapter 13 speaks of a world superpower eventually controlling the world population to the point of whom and how they even worship. In order for that to take place, our Constitution will have to be compromised to the point that the rights it guarantees will be of no effect.

I believe that process is happening today. In fact today, (June 23), the Supreme Court handed down a decision that can have a chilling effect on your right to own and keep your property. The right to own property is one of the hallmarks of American freedom. Your right to keep your property is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. ".... nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Today the Supreme Court voted five to four, that a city could claim eminent domain against property owners for the purpose of taking their property for economic renewal and transferring it for the use of other private citizens so that the city can gain increased tax revenue.

Listen to the dissenting opinion of Justice O'Connor:

"Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded - i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public - in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development taking "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property - and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly I respectfully dissent."

For space considerations I am not able to give the full text of the dissenting opinion but will quote a portion stating some ramifications of the Court's decision:

Justice O'Connor wrote "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result. "[T]hat alone is a just government," wrote James Madison, "which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own." For the National Gazette, Property, (Mar. 29, 1792), reprinted in 14 Papers of James Madison 266 (R. Rutland et al. eds. 1983)."

If the City, County, State, or Federal Government wants your property for whatever they consider "public use" you no longer have a right to protect it. What is the next step - what if they want you? Our guarantees to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" have suffered another blow today in the name of the common good (of whom?).

So while you celebrate Independence Day, take a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence. Those self evident truths are given to us by our Creator. Be vigilant to protect them and restore them, or we will loose them.

(To read more about the Court's ruling visit this web site http://www.supremecourtus.gov or http://www.supremecourtus.gov/Recent Decisions, Kelo v. New London, Docket 04-108

- Pastor Larry D. Mays of the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventists Church

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