Kirk Cameron, actor and Christian, is touting his newest production, the documentary Monumental. The aim of the film, according to its website, (http://www.monumentalmovie.com/) is to follow Cameron’s journey “as he seeks to discover America’s true ‘national treasure’ – the people, places, and principles that made America the freest, most prosperous and generous nation the world has ever known.”
This is a fine proposal. The majority of Americans would agree that we live in the freest, most prosperous and most generous place in the world. However, Cameron’s documentary has some problems.
For instance, one of the scholars he interviews, David Barton, notes that in 1782 “Congress printed the first English language Bible”. There is a mountain of evidence to counter this, including the fact that William Aitken, a Philadephia publisher, produced an English Bible in 1777, not to mention English-language Bibles dating back to 1539.
The real issue with Monumental however, is its seemingly narrow view of the freedoms we Americans enjoy. While our nation was clearly established on Judeo-Christian values, the issues of freedom and liberty go beyond the Pilgrims quest for a land in which they could print and distribute Bibles. Humanity’s desire for freedom has roots in Plato and Socrates, the Middle Ages of Europe and the founding of our nation by men and women of deep faith in God. More compelling than history, however, is the fact that we are created by a God who grants us free will; it is our very nature to be free. Human action does not create freedom: God grants it. From philosophers to abolitionists, preachers to politicians, America’s desire to be a place of freedom for all is indeed a monumental notion – deeply rooted in a biblical foundation and our very human nature.
Acton Institute’s The Birth of Freedom takes a much broader look at this same issue: the ancient roots of liberty, and how America prospered from this rich worldview. If you are seeking a critical, coherent, and prudent discussion of freedom, watch The Birth of Freedom.