500 Years of Religious Liberty…will it make it another 500 years?


I reiterate my sincere condolences and prayers for those who so tragically had their lives taken from them in Las Vegas. To those forever scarred by the memory of this violent attack and the loved ones who will have an empty chair going forward at family gatherings, we express our humble sorrow.

I pray we’ll not just seek to move on as we seem to do in America, but ask, and answer, the hard questions about what happened in Las Vegas. It’a not about the tool, but the evil that motivates. We cannot just settle for the fact that the coward who committed this heinous and despicable act took his own life. We must seek out and eradicate that which influenced and motivated him to commit such a disgusting act.

We face many assaults against our liberty, and we must never forget that our very first unalienable right, from our Creator, is life. Let’s us endeavor to do all that we can to preserve those rights, and our liberty.

With that being said, I want to share with y’all a very important piece of history that set forth and determined the establishment of these United States of America, and our God given unalienable rights. We all know 31 October as the day we celebrate as Halloween. Our children, and some adults, dress up in costumes and roam the neighborhoods saying those time-honored words, “trick or treat.” We indulge kids with massive amounts of candy, sweets, and assorted treats, giving them the ultimate sugar high, and causing at least a week of despair for parents all over the country.

However, I want to bring to your attention a very special date in history that had a profound effect on our nation. I pray you’ll share this, and discuss this date and its importance for our Constitutional Republic.

The date is 31 October 1517. The historical moment, our treat, was the action of a Germanic monk by the name of Martin Luther. It was on that date, 500 years ago, that Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. Martin Luther’s act was a defiant stance against the religious orthodoxy of the day, and one of its practices. The Catholic Church ruled the day and maintained immense influence on the ruling class of royalty in Europe.

It was, however, the practice of indulgences that drew the ire of Luther. Indulgences were the monetary collections taken by the Catholic Church in order to purchase freedom – absolution — from God’s punishment for sins. Imagine going to church and having a fee chart displayed based on the sins of an individual which had to be paid in order for a church official to intercede for your transgressions…an insidious form of taxation for salvation.

It was Luther’s belief, his theology, that salvation was not attained through deeds — certainly not through purchase. He believed that we all have an inherent right to a relationship with God and our Savior Jesus Christ through our faith, as professed in Romans 10:9, (NIV), “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Luther took on the Catholic Church and in the end he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X for not refuting his assertions. Luther believed that our salvation, our eternal life is simply a free gift of God’s grace to us all. What Martin Luther did was to challenge the Catholic Church, the institution, claiming that it wasn’t supreme over the individual. Martin Luther was the first to present the idea of a personal relationship with our Creator that supersedes the false claim of intercession by way of manmade institutions. Thanks to Luther, the word “Protestant” came to define the movement that challenged the institution of the Catholic Church, the root word being “protest.” And what Luther was truly protesting and advocating is what English political philosopher John Locke would further define.

It was Locke who introduced the idea of natural rights theory. Locke proposed that we all have natural rights bestowed upon us emanating from our Creator. This was contrary to the reigning thought of the day — divine rights theory — which placed all power and authority with the ruling royalty over the individual, a power bestowed upon them by the institution of the Catholic Church. And in the case of King Henry VIII, when the institution did not grant him as he wished – a divorce — he made himself head of state, and created his own church, the Church of England, where he was also head.

Locke didn’t believe the rights of the individual, by way of divine rights theory, came from intercessors. He wrote in his Second Treatise that the natural rights theory meant we had God-given rights, these being life, liberty, and property. What a continuation of the revolutionary idea of Martin Luther, to breakdown the social construct of Lords and Serfs, to say each individual was endowed with rights, and did not have to seek permission, bye of leave, and approval from someone established over them, by another.

And so it was, when a certain man from Virginia named Thomas Jefferson — you know that fella whose statue they defaced at the University of Virginia — was tasked to write the document establishing these United States of America he wrote…”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.”

When you fathom the action of Martin Luther, you realize that his nailing the 95 Theses on the church door set in motion a deeper movement. It challenged and toppled the idea that the individual is subservient to the institution. America represents the manifestation of Luther’s idea, that simple protest he made on 31 October 1517. Perhaps that’s why James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton enshrined our first right in the Bill of Rights as freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof. This is why the Founding Fathers never wanted the establishment of a state sponsored religion. Jefferson asserted in his letter to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Convention that we would have a separation of church and state. What he meant was that we would not have a head of state who is also a head of church.

However, when we do not study history, we enable others, namely the progressive socialist secular humanists, to redefine this as separating our Judeo-Christian faith heritage from who we are as a people, a nation. And therefore we are now at a point in time where the institution, government, is again making the individual subservient, and redefining freedom of religion as a specified freedom of worship, and where.

It is time for a new “Protestantism” that protests against the orthodoxy of today. Wouldn’t it be grand that in this 500th year remembrance of the 95 Theses, we had some citizen go to Washington DC and nail such a modern document within the walls of Congress? Of course, the institution of government would probably have them arrested, but it is a novel concept.

If you were to have a part in creating 95 Theses for today to challenge Washington DC, what would be your main point? This month, reflect upon that date 31 October 1517 — they won’t be teaching this in our schools … heck, they don’t teach very much it appears when you have players kneeling for the National Anthem but standing for God Save the Queen.

Martin Luther’s action ensured we’ve had 500 years of individual and religious liberty and freedom. The question is, will we still have it 500 years from now? It had to be fought for, and that is true to this day. Yep, there are decorations already out for Halloween, but we best wake up because we keep getting tricked, while the ruling class of political elites get out treats.

God bless Martin Luther for the 95 Theses.

Editor’s Note: This column previously appeared at AllenBWest.com. Used with the permission of the author.

Lt. Col. Allen B. West is the former U.S. Congressman representing Florida’s 22nd District, a Fox News Contributor, a contributing columnist for Townhall.com, the former Executive Director of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas Texas, and the author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom. Col. West is the third of four generations of military servicemen in his family. During his 22 year career in the United States Army, he was awarded the Bronze Star, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals (1 with Valor device), and a Valorous Unit Award. In 1993 he was named the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year. Col. West believes it will be principled constitutional conservative policies, not politics, which will secure a sound economic future for Americans.