Most all major news outlets in America, if they even cover it, have couched the disturbance between the Bureau of Land Management and Cliven Bundy as one based on the Bundy Ranch refusing to pay for grazing rights on Federal property. Yet, a similar incident between the U.S. Forest Service and Kit Laney in New Mexico, in which the Forest Service claims part of the Laney Ranch is on Federal property, has the same basic principle at stake and it has nothing to do with grazing rights or boundary disputes. Those issues are moot points if we answer a more basic question; what legal authority and for what purpose does the Federal Government have to “own” property in the United States?
As Woody Guthrie’s ballad proclaims and in spite of his Communist beliefs, the idea that public property is your land and is my land, is more in line with the original intent of the Constitution when understood in the context as being between the Federal government and citizens of the United States. In other words, public land belongs to the people, not the government and the national government’s authority over it is limited by the US Constitution.
America was once the freest nation in the history of the world and set the standard for others countries to follow. It has since lost much of the freedom for which the founding cultures sacrificed their lives, fortunes and sacred honor and now America can no longer make this claim.
Evidence of this decline is objectively displayed in the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation’s 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, available at http://www.heritage.org/index/, in which America is ranked tenth behind Denmark out of 177 ranked countries. The index measures ten benchmarks of economic freedom that it defines as the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property.
The four cultural migrations out of England that established America and left their indelible cultural stamp upon it were as diverse in their ideas about freedom, liberty and social governance as any four groups of Christians could be. In spite of these differences, the descendants or the actual immigrants of the four migrations unified behind Reformed theological ideas to win independence and establish a workable national government that allowed them to preserve their individual ideas about liberty.
From its earliest history, the United States has been identified as the land of freedom. In 1814, Francis Scott Key touted America as the land of the free and the home of the brave in his poem that later became America’s national anthem, but explaining American freedom has been problematic throughout our nation’s history. Freedom and liberty, although not synonymous, are very closely linked and many Americans differ in defining these terms as they apply to America’s brand of freedom and the liberties they think its citizens should possess. Oddly, this battle has been waged long before America obtained its independence.
In the entire later half of the 20th century, Christianity has been under attack in America. Some of these attacks have manifested themselves as restrictions on the display of the Ten Commandments in schools and other public places, erecting Christian crosses on public property in memory of lost loved ones, displaying nativity scenes during the Christmas season, or individual public expressions of Christianity such as school teachers giving a “glance at inspirational Bible verses between classes.”
In each case of public displays of Christianity, the alleged law-breakers have the same things in common: they are not Congress, they are not making a law, they are not establishing a religion, and they are not restricting the free exercise of religion. To the contrary, they are all doing exactly what the First Amendment protects their right to do.