… is from page 22 of George Will’s superb 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility:
A government thus limited [as proposed in the American Declaration of Independence] is not in the business of imposing its opinions about what happiness the citizens should choose to pursue. Having such opinions is the business of other institutions – private and voluntary ones, including religious ones, that nourish the conditions for liberty. The Founders did not consider natural rights reasonable because religion affirmed them; rather, the Founders considered religion reasonable because it secured those rights.
DBx: Indeed so.
I am not religious, yet I’m convinced as an empirical matter that religious belief has often – although not always – served to secure the natural rights that are necessary if a great commercial society such as ours is to survive and flourish. I do not, however, believe that religion is the only source of such security. But I do believe that such security of natural rights – whether supplied by religion or by some secular ideology – is essential if liberal civilization is to last.