Our Threatened Freedom

Have We Lost Our Manners? (03:08)

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:00 Have we lost our manners? This is R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:07 Have we lost our manners? Very obviously, people are not as mannerly now as they once were. My favorite story on old-fashioned courtliness and humor goes back to the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. In those days, Washington was a small city, and the area had few people. Roosevelt loved to take friends on hikes around the Potomac River on the marsh area. On one hike on a hot day when the roof halted, Roosevelt suggested that they take a swim. All the men stripped and dove into the river swimming in the nude. Roosevelt noticed, however, that the French Ambassador, Jean Jules Jusserand, had removed everything except his gloves. “Mr. Ambassador,” asked the nude Roosevelt, “Have you forgotten your gloves?” The debonair Frenchman replied, “We might meet ladies.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:07 There is something to be said for an era with that kind of wit and presence of mind. Manners can become observed, and they can be overly stressed, but they do serve to keep people from manifesting their uglier feelings and dispositions, and civilization needs that restraint. Too often, for example, our news commentators, cartoonists, and politicians are unmannerly to the extreme. Anyone who disagrees with them is a menace to civilization of fascist beats, the enemy of the people, and so on. We are seeing, increasingly, the disappearance of all manners towards people who disagree with us. Civilized discourse requires and depends on treating those who disagree with us as entitled to due courtesy, respect, and a fair-minded attention. To break the rules of mannerly discourse is a prelude to social violence and civil disorders. It means that we regard the other person as mentally hopeless and therefore only amenable to coercion and violence.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:17 Manners are important because they presuppose that the best way to change the other person is to show respect, concern, and courtesy towards him. We cannot convert someone by first spitting into a space. When we deny that people can be changed, reached, or approached by means of good manners, we are also saying that freedom is a useless thing and that coercion and violence will alone persuade people. Respect and courtesy for those with whom we disagree is a necessary prerequisite for a free society. The intemperance, venom, and sometimes steadied insolence of much of our public discourse is a threat to freedom.

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:02 This has been R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder