Speaking to classmates, parents and the community on December 14 at Founder Classical Academy in Lewisville at the school’s annual Bill of Rights Colloquium, junior Kerighan Wheeler introduced the vital role of the Bill of Rights in protecting the liberty and rights of citizens. She urged her community to take seriously their role in government and the need to educate themselves.

“‘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,’” Kerighan quoted Ronald Regan.

Highlighting that alone neither the Bill of Rights nor citizens can maintain liberty, she concluded freedom from tyranny is a tenuous balance that requires constant vigilance.

“It is only in the constant effort to maintain the balance between security and liberty that we are free from tyranny,” she said.

Two-hundred members of the school and local community joined Dr. David Bobb the president of the Bill of Rights Institute, Dr. Nathan Schlueter from Hillsdale College at the colloquium. The Scholars both spoke about the founders’ understanding of the relationship between morality, religion and self-government and how it is often understood today.

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Presenting the founders’ views on education and the role it plays in a government that is for and by the people, Dr. Schlueter emphasized the importance of a classical liberal education to understand the founding documents.

“Children are not born knowing the law of nature. These things come from a tradition that developed from writings, arguments, books, they are an inheritance for us to receive, develop and pass on,” he said.

Outlining different document from the Northwest Ordinance to the Declaration Independence, he showed how the founders saw the necessary role education plays in morality, religion and self-government.

“Limited government requires people with character both moral and intellectual and therefore people who care about a free society cannot be indifferent to the kind of education and character their citizens receive,” said Dr. Schlueter.

Focusing on the Bill of Rights, Dr. Bobb outlined the establishment clause and what freedom of religion has meant in the United States’ history. He explained how the founders did not equivocate freedom of religion and toleration.

“The founders’ big shift was to say this, “we are going to put toleration behind us and guarantee to every one of our citizenry the right to religious liberty. You should guard your conscience because it is your most precious possession, and government exists in part to help you with that protection,” said Dr. Bobb.

As the founders had experienced, individuals with different beliefs living together often leads to disagreement. However, they held that the right to one’s own conscience and religion are universal and owed to every man. To ensure every person was guaranteed this right, they enacted the separation of church and state in the first amendment.

“There is such a thing as the separation of church and state because the church should not try to do the duties of the state, nor the states, nor any political entity, the duties of religion,” said Dr. Bobb.

Founders Classical Academy holds its Bill of Rights colloquium each December on Bill of Rights Day.

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Bridget Weisenburger

Author Bridget Weisenburger

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