What happens when you write an open letter to Glenn Beck criticizing his belief that man's rights come from God? ...You're probably going to get an earful.
Such was the case on Beck's radio program Wednesday, when Beck read an letter from a man named James Kirk Wall.
"[Wall] wrote a response to my claim -- and let me attribute where actually I first heard the outrageously ridiculous claim that our rights come from God," Beck began sarcastically. "America's Founding Fathers, that's how ridiculous my source is. So he has in reality ... written a response to our Founding Fathers ... In fact, I think you'd probably actually have to go back to Moses, maybe."
Beck proceeded to read the man's assertion that "whenever you hear someone claim that rights come from God, that speaker is a person who intentionally or unintentionally wants to take your rights away."
The radio host described the sentence as "the most outrageous claim" he has ever heard in his life, pointing out a number of brutal genocidal rulers who were in fact, not religious.
Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Beck said sarcastically, "those were God-serving guys."
"They were God-serving as they took away the rights of millions and then killed them," he added. "In ditches, in concentration camps, whatever. They were -- in fact, they were so religious, it was almost like they had no religion!"
Beck continued to say that "godless communists" are responsible for killing more human beings than "anything else in human history, [except for] disease."
Beck continued to read the listener's letter, tackling the man's point that one can lose their rights by breaking the law -- which he seems to think shouldn't be possible if rights come from God.
"Arguing that their rights come from God doesn't remove the bars," the man wrote. "The law is created by mankind, not God. The laws are made by people in government, and the laws are enforced by the people in government. The laws of society dictate our rights."
But Beck said Wall is looking at the issue "exactly backwards."
"Rights dictate laws, not the other way around," Beck said. "The United States Constitution dictates our rights. The United States Constitution, based on the rights given to us by God. From there the Constitution says these things cannot be changed at all."
But beyond that, Beck added, humans can make all the laws they want.
"And that's where mankind changes his mind: Slavery's right, slavery's wrong, smoking's good, smoking's bad. That's man. That's not God," Beck continued. "God didn't say 'Thou shalt not smoke!' He didn't say that ... Where is the problem? Do not murder, that's what God said. Do not murder."
"That's the difference between rights - God's law - and man's law," Beck said. "Or as our Founders said, 'nature's law and nature's God.' Everything else you come up with."
Beck said the listener is "confusing laws with rights," and warned that if rights come from people, then they can be taken away.
He noted that if Wall was "beamed" to China (making fun of the man's middle name, Kirk), he would likely protest any mistreatment by saying something like, "I have rights!"
Wall would probably be disappointed to find that those "rights" only extend as far as the government is willing to acknowledge them, Beck said, and since he believes those rights come from the government he really wouldn't have anywhere to turn.
"Would you say, James, that the people in China have a right to be free?" Beck asked. "Do they have a right to speak their mind? Do they have a right to protest? Do they have a right to not have their doors broken down in the middle of the night and hauled off to jail?"
Beck's co-host Pat Gray said the man would probably be forced to say no, by his own logic, since the leaders in China "have decided no."
But after finishing the letter, Beck concluded on a conciliatory note, saying that they likely don't disagree on many of the fundamentals.
"If I was saying that all laws come from God, then you would have a complaint with me. But I'm not. Laws come from man, and laws change, and that's why you want to have as few of those as you possibly can," Beck said. "But you and I both know, whether you live here or whether you live in China, that people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And those are not changeable. And James, who gives you those rights? It is not man. Now, you can call it a space octopus, you can call it the grand universe, but you know it to be true ... No man is born a slave. If they are, then what's wrong with slavery? ... But we all instinctively know that all men are born free. They are born and created equal. Now, what you do after that is up to you."
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