Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Why Is Knowledge of the Constitution Important?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the need for Americans to know the content of the United States Constitution. Yesterday, we celebrated Constitution Day. Did you consider the Constitution yesterday? Did you take the time to study the Constitution? Did you even know that it was Constitution Day?

            According to The Hill, the Annenberg Public Policy Center took its annual Constitution Day Civics Survey. The results are interesting as well as discouraging. 

About a quarter of Americans surveyed could not name a single branch of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial).

Fewer than half of the respondents could name all three branches of government.

Around 26 percent of respondents could not name any First Amendment freedoms (religion, speech, press, peaceably assemble, and petition the government).

            The understanding of Americans of “basic facts about the U.S. government declined for the first time in six years.” The percentage of Americans who could name all three branches of government dropped by 9 percentage points from last year. There was also “a decline in the number of respondents who could name any of the five freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment.”

Freedom of religion was named by 24 percent of those surveyed, falling from 56 percent from the previous survey [drop of 32 percent]. Those who named freedom of the press also declined sharply down by 30 percentage points from 50 percent in 2021.

Around 26 percent of respondents could not name any First Amendment freedoms. And the percentage of respondents who listed the right to bear arms – a right protected under the Second Amendment – as a First Amendment protection tripled from 2021 rising to 9 percent.

But respondents did exhibit significant knowledge in several areas, including some aspects of firearm ownership and search and seizure laws. More than 80 percent knew the Supreme Court upheld citizens’ rights to own a gun, while around 78 percent know that the Bill of Rights protects Americans from illegal searches and seizures.

Moreover, nearly three-quarters of respondents know the Constitution prevents the federal government from establishing an official religion – a percentage statistically similar to the previous year’s survey.

            Why is it important for each American to know what the Constitution says? According to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, “When it comes to civics, knowledge is power.” She continued, “It’s troubling that so few know what rights we’re guaranteed by the First Amendment. We are unlikely to cherish, protect, and exercise rights if we don’t know that we have them.”

            In an article posted to American Thinker, Eric Utter compared the knowledge of Americans about the Constitution to their knowledge in other areas. 

Nearly all Americans can name three or more genders, one or more of which don’t even exist. I am nearly certain that the vast majority of Americans can name three HBO shows, three characters from Game of Thrones, three adult movie stars, three rap musicians, and three brands of candy bars. But can even half of us name all 50 states? 30…?

            I could add a few other categories of knowledge that Americans can recite at a moment’s notice: football teams – both professional and college, basketball teams – both professional and college, superheroes, dinosaurs, and many others. There is not much knowledge in this world that is more important for us to know than what is in the Constitution – with the only exception being the information needed to achieve salvation.

The results of the above referenced survey show the consequences of taking civics out of our schools. We now have several generations of Americans who do not know their rights, or what they should expect from government. In addition, they do not know their personal responsibilities in keeping America free. There is little wonder that there is so much crime in liberal cities, or so many idiots being elected to Congress. God help America if we do not start teaching essential information to the rising generations!

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