Tim Barton: Vote Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness

Tim Barton: Vote Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness October 18, 2012

This is guest post from my friend Tim Barton, an ordained minister and speaker for WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our religious, moral, and constitutional heritage. WallBuilders has been recognized from coast-to-coast for its work in education, history, law, and public policy, integrating the elements of Biblical faith and morality throughout all aspects of American life and culture. See his video here.

As the election quickly approaches, our nation faces a fork in the road, a choice between two distinct worldviews and philosophies of government. These two roads are diametrically opposed and their end results will not only impact our future but will determine what is left behind for our children and grandchildren.

One side cries for larger government and shared or collective responsibility. The other side encourages individual responsibility and freedom of choice. It’s not just the economic differences; there are clear moral distinctions which separate the two camps.

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson explained that “we hold these truths to be self-evident,”  a Jeffersonian way of saying, “Any dummy should understand this.” We believe that “all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Signer of the Declaration and Constitution, James Wilson explained that unalienable rights are “those rights to which we are entitled by our all-wise and all-beneficent Creator.” John Dickinson, a member of the Continental Congress and Brigadier-General as well as a signer of the Constitution, similarly explained that unalienable rights are rights “which God gave to you and no inferior power has a right to take away.” They are, in effect, God-given rights.

The Declaration identifies three of our God-given rights as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”


It is no coincidence that the first identified God-given right is the right to life. Without life, all other rights are meaningless. This concept alone should weigh heavily on our perspective on abortion. Some may argue, “What about the mother’s rights?” The right of convenience or inconvenience does not bear more weight than the God-given right to life. The attempt to remove consequences from actions has become a “right” in our culture. It is foolish and naïve to assume that someone else should clean up the mess you made or to even demand that someone should not be made to pay for the food they just consumed. However, this is the exact reasoning that is used to argue for the “convenience right” of the mother to abort her unborn child. But, I digress.  Simply put, our Founders knew that without Life all other liberties and happiness would be meaningless.


Liberty has become a rallying cry for many today. It has been the cry of those from Moses in the Bible to William Wallace in Scotland to our founders who fought in the American Revolution. But there have been different approaches to liberty. In France, throughout her many revolutions, liberty was a leading cry. However, the French revolution was significantly different from the American Revolution. The French presumed that liberty should be without any constraints, moral or otherwise. They believed government should rectify the class distinctions and abuses that had long pervaded their nation. Their cry was for “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.” This notion, however, is a contradiction both in terms and effect.

With liberty, people have the opportunity to achieve based on their choices, ability and work ethic. Because people make different choices, have different abilities, and put forth different levels of effort, people will not achieve equally. Therefore, the only way to make people “equal” in terms of outcome is for an outside force to “balance the scales.” This “outside source” is always the Emperor, or King, or Government, and it will always strip away liberty to give equality. You simply cannot have both.

Pursuit of Happiness

In America, we believed liberty was better than equality of outcome (but we do believe in the inherent equality of worth). We would rather be free to make our own choices than be equal in possessions, lands or finances and be controlled and dictated to by the Government, Emperor or King. (Ironically, the “government” in this role always becomes a “controlling” authority over the people to bring them “equality,” but in so doing it establishes a “ruling class” over the people – which is exactly what the French were fighting against in the first place!) This is why in America we said “liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In America, you are free to pursue whatever dream you desire. Because you are alive (“life”) and have the freedom to make your own choices, within the confines of law (“liberty”), you can pursue any field or career you desire. This does not guarantee success but it allows you the “pursuit of happiness.”

As this election draws near, there are two paths which lie before us. They are headed in opposite directions. One encourages “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and one seems to be in direct opposition to these God-given rights. Although both sides promise success and prosperity, there is only one way which has proven to achieve this dream.

This election, vote for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!”

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  • Jay Saldana

    I always find that the saddest thing about this kind of presentation is that it assumes the ignorance of the reader at worst, or their total thoughtlessness at best. I am sure Tim is a nice man but his worldview is blinded by so many presuppositions he misses the forest for the trees. Lets start with the description of the sides. The BIBLICAL side is the side that works collectively for the well being of the community and puts the well being of the group (Larger government) at a premium (Do you really need a Scripture reference for this?). Individual responsibility with freedom of Choice (limited by government fiat if you choose to live contrary to the “divinely” determined rules) would be called the Roman/pagan style of government. So the choices at the beginning are stark: Biblical, community and governmental responsibility, were one loves the Church/community as Jesus did AND Freedom of Choice limited by individual collective control (every man for himself or his cliche). As you imply, stark choice indeed!
    I find it wonderful that you choose Jefferson, a deist, and as much a Christian as your average Latter Day Saint, and, John Dickerson, who was famous for using his pen name “Fabius” for supporting the French cause rather than the English one. Which, in turn, makes your interpretation of the French situation and philosophy, just the opposite to the men you selected.
    As for your “God-given right to life” which “no inferior power can take away”, by your own logic the “Government” is then Superior as it had the “right of Slavery- life and death-” and the ability to take life as a matter of convenience in the Constitution. So your argument “for Life”, by your logic, falls to the wayside.
    So, Tim, if you are speaking to a classically trained audience, I suggest you retool your argument.
    As for the election. Everyone should vote. Many, many, Human Beings have given their all for your privilege. So please don’t waste their sacrifice or the on-going sacrifice of those who still bear the hidden scars of emotional pain and damage of fighting for you.
    As for the different philosophies involved, I pray you have spent serious time investigating the choices and choose wisely based on your prayerful consideration and not on party names.
    Have a God filled day,

    • Jordan

      I’m afraid the reader is not the ignorant one, but that you are. I will attempt to respectfully show this by taking your comment piece by piece and looking at it biblically, logically, and historically.
      For example, you say that larger gov’t means well-being for the collective group. In reality, a large gov’t simply attempts to control more and more as it grows. This limits decision making for individuals. Does that sound like protection of freedom and rights to you? It doesn’t sound that way to me. On the other hand, smaller, more centralized gov’t, relies on the people’s self-governance, a concept which you try to say is unbiblical in your next point.
      You talk of Christ being opposed to individual responsibility as it is the Roman style of gov’t. Was he really? If Christians really do need the gov’t to control our lives, why does the Bible remind us to live self-controlled lives? (see II Peter 2:16, Titus 2:12, and Galatians 5:22-23) Even before Christ’s day when kings ruled Israel, the people were reminded of how essential self-control was (see Proverbs 16:32 and 25:28). Even though styles of gov’ts change, people are still held responsible for their actions. Take apart the word “self-control”. It means that the individual is in control of his life, that the person has a firm grasp on his freedom, and that the individual controls his own decisions. The gov’t should not control things that self-governing people can control in a more efficient way. Enough said about that.

      Side note: instead of implicitly referencing fictitious scripture passages, try actually referencing real ones explicitly. Respectfully, it diminishes your argument in the eyes of the beholder entirely when you say that you do not actually need to reference Scripture. This causes the reader to question what this Scripture actually is and whether it is even a legitimate Scripture or simply an imagination of the writer meant to dissuade the reader. All you have to do is quote, when referencing anything! Reference the constitution, the Bible, anything! This adds validity to your statement and solidifies the “ethos” of your argument by giving the reader a reason to trust you.

      Next, your comment on “Fabius” shows your base level of research and ignorance on the topic. You attempt to convince the readers that Tim was wrong based only on confusing logic and a fictitious amount of research. True, Dickerson’s pen name was “Fabius,” (something easily obtained by a Google search) but he in no way supported the French cause. The only ways the name Fabius is related to France are through Laurent Fabius and the Fabian Society, both having histories in the 19th century or after. Actual research, not assumptions, will show that Dickerson was a strong advocate of centralized gov’t. This comment, above all the others, shows your total ignorance and attempt to lead innocent people astray by illogical arguments based upon ficticious statements claimed to be truth. This is deceptive and wrong! I am appalled that one such as yourself who calls himself a Christian would intentionally lie to viewers to win a petty argument!
      Also, any “classically trained audience” would realize your next point is, plainly put, a bunch of trash. Once one gets past the seemingly intelligent gibberish that is presented as an argument, he can realize that your quotes are fictitious, your logic is flawed, and you pretend to critique respectfully, but only attempt to disassemble the argument with non-existent proofs and evidences. The gov’t is not made superior by breaking the Constitutional and God-given right to life. How in the world can an entity be elevated by breaking the law it set up itself? This doesn’t make any sense and is never discussed in Tim’s post! Even Tim’s logic does not, in any way, suppose this, as you attempt to tell readers.

      And finally, the only part I agree with comes, for which I will not give my opinion as to its actual intentions, besides that it is yet another attempt to win the reader to your side by Christian-ese talk. Indeed, people should vote! Indeed, people should prayerfully choose whom to vote for based on biblical support for a candidate’s argument! At least we agree on that!

      On a personal note: Jay, I would implore you to examine Acts 20:29, Matthew 7:15, and Galatians 2:4. As you do, examine yourself. Are you leading other brothers and sisters in Christ astray? This may not be the case, but prayerfully consider if a heart change is necessary. Edification of others is what we are commanded to do.


  • Lydia

    There are some issues that are non-negotiable and we as Christians need to vote that way. This video, made by a mom of 7 goes over these non-negotiables: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5NLBCJdmIk&feature=plcp We will lose our liberties if we vote for the party that rejected God three times at their convention. How can we look God in the eye at our death and say we voted against Him and what he stands for?

  • Jay Saldana

    Lydia, that was a very nice video. And it did a wonderful job of quoting a small bit of scripture. But we live by the WHOLE scripture not a few proof texts. Some of the things suggested in this article and your video are against the very Bible you claim to be for. Proof texting is dangerous cause you often end up being legalistic and not Christian becasue you miss the rest of the Gospel. Are there problems in our country? Of course, their are and they are not limited to one party or candidate. Vote your prayerful consideration but I assure you God is not a Republican or a Democrat.
    Have a God Filled Day

    • Jordan

      Please prove it! Again, you imply that Scripture agrees with you and disagrees with Lydia without referencing any at all. Strange when Lydia is the one who actually used Scripture….