This talk is rather challenging but it is one of the most important “talks” we will share with one another. A good conscience is essential to a good life. A bad conscience is destructive to a good life. The article is divided into two parts (14 pages each) so that the reader can study the talk over the next two weeks or so. I hope you will enjoy and be challenged by the biblical and historical data you will find throughout the talk.
General Overview of the Conscience
The conscience is the mind and guardian of the soul as the brain is the mind of the body. The former is immortal, meaning that it has a beginning but no end and the latter (the human brain) is mortal, meaning that it has a beginning and an end. The conscience and the brain work harmoniously as one growing and maturing as one. Depending on the degree to which it is related to its Creator’s original design for human well-being, the conscience leads the individual in the right way and the right place or in the wrong way and in the wrong place. Based on one’s choices and often the law under which one is lives, the quality or character of the conscience moves between good and bad, right and wrong throughout one’s life.
The work of conscience is clearly depicted in the choice Joshua offers to the nation of Israel: “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:15). So the choice is: choose the God of creation and/or His way or choose the ways of the world. Choose wisely! The quality of your life and your eternal destiny hang in the balance.
The Human Conscience, Part One
When the conscience of one person (group) can, by force of law, enforce his or her (its) own preciously held beliefs upon another person’s (group’s) conscience, . . .! How would you finish this sentence? What is the consequence? Peace? Utopianism? War? Tyranny? Does human equality survive? Is individual freedom upheld? Will justice dominate or will justice be diminished until it is totally eclipsed by corruption? The importance of conscience to civil society cannot be overstated. The role that it plays in any given society (whether it is respected, merely recognized or fully rejected) will determine that particular society’s moral state and achievements or the lack thereof.
What is conscience?
The classical Greek understanding of conscience referred to knowledge; not simply a knowledge of facts, but a knowledge of one’s own history (reflexive knowledge), which involved “evaluations and judgments about the criterion of good and evil” (Colin Brown, ed. H. C. Hahn, “Conscience” in The New International Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1975, p. 348.). “Conscience is the moral sense; the faculty of judging the moral qualities of actions, or of discriminating between right and wrong; particularly applied to one’s perception or judgment of the moral qualities of his own conduct, but in a wider sense denuding (removing) a similar application of the standards of morality to the acts of others. The sense of right and wrong inheriting every person by virtue of his existence is a social entity; good conscience being a synonym of equity. In law, especially the moral rule which requires probity (integrity), justice, and honest dealing between individuals, as when we see a bargain as ‘against conscience’ or ‘unconscionable,’ or that the price paid for property up for sale is so inadequate as to ‘shock the conscience’” (Black’s Law Dictionary. Abridged. 5th edition, p. 159).
At the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC), Ivanka Trump endeavored to speak for all millennials when she declared, “I do not consider myself a Republican or Democrat. More than party affiliation, I vote on what I believe is right for my family and my country.” The auditorium, full of “Republicans”, responded with applause and excitement, as if Ivanka said something profound when, in fact, her comment was empty and very subjective in nature; what is right is nothing more than one’s personal feelings and opinions. Her comment is not based on any absolute moral standard or on historical principles that give substance or a foundation to what is determined to be right or wrong. It is consistent with the old saying written more than three thousand years ago; “They did what was right in their own eyes,” which interpreted means “The people did what was wrong.” Not only is this a disheartening commentary on the RNC, it is also a disappointing description of modern day thinking. It is particularly frightening when one understands how her words illustrate the deterioration of conscience in our time.
Let’s take a look at how the Scriptures speak of conscience. In the Old Testament (OT), the word “heart” in Hebrew is translated “conscience” in 1 Samuel 24:5. David believes that he had done something quite wrong against King Saul to the extent that his heart was burdened by his bad deed. In other words, his conscience quickly reminded him that his actions were contrary to good behavior. Basically, David’s heart was broken over his poor behavior. A standard outside himself brought immediately conviction upon his heart and he repented of the behavior. The part of his life that triggered the conviction was his good heart, that is, his good conscience.
In the New Testament (NT), the word conscience is used twenty-eight times, which is the translation of the word, “suneidesis”. The context in which this word is used tells us all we need to know about God’s design for the human conscience (Acts 23:1, 24:16; Romans 2:15, 9:1; 13:5; 1 Corinthians 8:7, 10, 12; 10:25, 27, 28, 29 (twice); 2 Corinthians 1:12, 4:2; 1 Timothy 1:5, 19; 3:9; 4:2; 2 Timothy 1:3; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 9:9, 14; 10:22; 13:18; 1 Peter 2:19; 3:16, and 21). In company with the context, the adjectives used with the word, conscience, clearly describe what the conscience is, as well as, its function. Four adjectives (blameless, good, clear and perfect) describe a conscience that is influenced by a value-system that is consistent with divine morality rather than personal opinion, while four adjectives (weak, defiled, evil and seared) reflect a conscience that acts contrary to divine morality. A conscience, therefore, can be good or evil, strong or weak, blameless or defiled, clear or ambiguous, perfect and functional or imperfect and seared. Basically, the conscience is our self-awareness, our very being, our eternal soul, which functions to keep a human being focused on divine justice, loving kindness (unconditional love) and righteousness, the three things God most desires and cherishes (Jeremiah 23:9-10), and which ensure that a person or a people walk in a manner that is most profitable for him or her and the society in which he, she or they abide. The good conscience is loving and selfless on the one hand while the evil or seared conscience is unloving and selfish on the other. Emotions related to good decisions or a good and clear conscience are happiness, joy, peace, empathy, compassion, and love, which result in contentment, confidence, better relationships, and a healthy and more unified civil society. Emotions related to bad decisions or a bad or seared conscience are guilt, fear, anger, malice, and unrestrained hatred, which result in disassociation or withdrawal, lack of assurance or confusion, outbursts, corruption and conflict, and a dysfunctional civil society. The two extremes of conscience are a contented conscience on the one hand where conduct is consistent with one’s core beliefs and values; and one that is tormented, where conduct is inconsistent with one’s core beliefs and values (based on natural law and or divine decree). Therefore, the strength of a person’s conscience determines whether he or she reflects behavior that is constructive and, therefore, advantageous to civil society or destructive and, therefore, disadvantageous to civil society. Bluntly stated, a conscience that adheres to a moral standard greater than itself (most notably, a Judeo-Christian standard) protects humanity from its natural tendency to slide into barbarism and self-destruction, which is where humanity ultimately ends up when it follows Ivanka Trump’s subjective standard of right and wrong; in fact, it can be easily argued that those who live by a relativistic moral standard, such as Ivanka’s, cannot judge anything right or wrong, hence multiculturalism takes center stage (the idea that all cultures are morally equal). Without an objective moral standard, no society will long survive.
It must not be missed, therefore, that conscience is inextricably linked to morality; that is, right and wrong, good and evil, better and worse. It is an internal alarm system that buzzes gently when questionable decisions are being considered and the conscience rings loudly when one is involved in actions that are inconsistent with one’s core beliefs. Its role, therefore, is to encourage superior or non-destructive behaviors; it protects an individual, a couple, a family, a community and a nation from decisions and actions that cause harm while it compels each individual or group toward decisions and actions that produce positive outcomes. The conscience “convicts, reproves and exposes” (H. C. Hahn, on the understanding of conscience by Philo, p. 349) inferior or destructive behaviors so that a person has the opportunity to change one’s mind in order to lessen or better avoid negative and harmful consequences. The conscience is intended to be an innate and essential ally in the human struggle to live with oneself and others securely and prolifically. A good and clear functioning conscience is the safety-net for human existence and its quest for freedom within moral parameters.
What is the source of the morality, upon which conscience operates?
At the founding of the American quest for freedom or liberty, morality was understood as emanating from religion, i.e., the Judeo-Christian religions. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, James Kent, was adamant about the role of Christian morality in America: (1811, The People v. Ruggles) “We are a Christian people and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity and not upon the doctrines of those imposter [other religions] . . . . [We are] people whose manners . . . and whose morals have been elevated and inspired . . . by means of the Christian religion” (David Barton, Original Intent, Wallbuilders Press, Aledo, TX, 2005. p.55, 325).
Benjamin Franklin is a study in contrasts, having been raised Presbyterian, only later to embrace deism because of his doubts regarding biblical revelation; nonetheless, he sought morality from primarily a Christian perspective. He records his reactions to a sermon on Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren whatsoever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, let the mind dwell on these things.” Franklin considered the sermon disappointing because “in a sermon on such a text, we could not miss of having some morality” of which he sought (Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, A Touchstone Book of Simon and Schuster, 1962, p. 66.). Though this compelled him not to go to another sermon, he did determine to seek moral perfection: “I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time” (Franklin, p. 66). He produced a list of thirteen virtues that, if followed, would assist him in acquiring his goal. The last of these virtues was humility, which would be reached, interestingly enough, by imitating both Jesus and Socrates. His arduous effort for moral perfection would end, but it was not a wasted effort. Though his effort did not produce the perfect “shine”, there was a “speckle of the shine” that made the effort meaningful. Though Franklin fell short of his goal, he concluded: “yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it” (Franklin, p. 73). Christian morality influenced and benefitted him as it would any person who adopts it as his or her own. The important point to note, in this context, is that Benjamin Franklin considered the morality of the Christian faith critical to a well-lived life, whether or not God was personally acknowledged.
Thomas Jefferson understood that the moral precepts by which the nation exists are essential and obligatory: “The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society, He [God} has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts (emphasis added; this is a reference to conscience) that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral precepts of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.” Patrick Henry knew that morality is a critical component of the nation’s capacity to survive. “[T]he great pillars of all government and of social life: I mean virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.” Charles Carroll could not state more clearly that the Christian religion is the source of American morality: “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time (emphasis added), they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion whose is so sublime and pure . . . are undermining the solid foundation of morals (emphasis added), the best security for the duration of free government” (Barton, Original Intent, p. 320-21.). The morality on which a good or clear conscience is derived and secured comes from the Judeo-Christian religions, and it is this God-given universal morality that ensures liberty’s existence. Thomas Jefferson asked a rhetorical question that underscores the belief that the religion of the American people is fundamental to conscience and the preservation of liberty: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people (emphasis added) that these liberties are a gift of God” (Matthew Spalding, We Still Hold These Truths, ISI Books, 2009, p 64-5.). When the collective conscience of the American people no longer supports the truth that liberty is a gift from God, liberty can no longer be sustained. Religious freedom is, thankfully, a natural right that protects the healthy confluence of morality with civil society so that conscience is free to preserve what is right and good without legal constraint. Without its Constitution, the United States would have dissolved in the nineteenth century whether by civil war or as a result of socialistic liberalism/progressivism.
What is the relationship between Law and conscience?
The general effect of law on conscience is twofold: 1) it either suppresses or confines the conscience, which keeps it immature until it is effectively deadened and yields little to no positive effect on civil society or 2) it sets the conscience-free, which helps it to continually mature as it serves to develop purposeful, productive, and peaceful citizens. The world before the founding of the United States was a world of monarchs, a small group of rulers, who intermixed secular and religious authorities. The general population consisted of subjects who submitted to both monarchical and ecclesiastical laws. Like the monarchs, the general population was “divinely” set in their positions in life with little to no means of moving out of the state or position to which they were born. The “wise and noble” among the Church and State believed that the “underclass” was unable, on their own, to understand faith and governance, so they locked the conscience of every person by the force of law and the threat of punishment. They became the useful puppets of the elite. This state/church environment also depicts the effects of Islam in that, as a religious and political philosophy, it uses the force of law to subject its own adherents and all others to its teachings. In these environments, conscience is reduced to mindless subjection, the consequence being arrogant tyrants propagating martyrdom, murder and mayhem around the globe for the sake of God and country.
Regarding the state of affairs leading up to the Protestant Reformation in 1517 AD, well-known Church historian Philip Schaff argued that “even an erring conscience must be respected, and cannot be forced. The liberty of conscience was suppressed by the union of Church and State after Constantine the Great [early 4th century], and severe laws were enacted under his successors against every departure from the established creed of the orthodox imperial Church. These laws were passed from the Roman to the German Empire, and were in full force all over Europe at the time when Luther raised his protest” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. VII, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1977, p. 312.). This period of “conscience lock” and bloodletting spanned 1150 years. What God never intended, human self-righteousness achieved; that is, core beliefs and religious conversion forced by the rule of law against the consciences of powerless individuals.
James Madison also addressed his position with regard to the freedom of conscience in discussions with members of the General Assembly about giving the Anglican Church in Virginia legal status over other denominations (called sects by many in the founding era), such as the Baptists, Mennonites, and Quakers who also lived in Virginia and had already endured religious persecution (i.e., not being able to preach without permission) from the larger Anglican community. Madison was fearful that further establishing one Christian denomination over another by force of law would intensify religious conflicts. The document Madison penned to plead against legislating conscience (individual core beliefs) is called Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, June 20, 1785. In this treatise, Madison provides the reader with fifteen reasons why it is critical not to give any religion existence or credibility by force of law—this is what Jefferson and others understood as separation of Church and State. The idea that believers would influence and participate in a republican government was a given, as you will see from the following expressions of Madison.
James Madison believed that each individual comes into the world as a free and independent person with natural rights that are not to be abridged, i.e., curtailed. The government’s role is to keep each person in this state of being by not enacting legislation that dictates or mandates core religious (which would include atheist, agnostic, or secularist) beliefs, but rather protects the freedom of conscience as each free person lives in the context of every other person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are the barriers that protect and defend freedom of conscience and provides the best framework within which a nation can organize to pursue and develop a civil and peaceful society. Any government that is guilty of encroachment upon these basic rights “exceed[s] the commission from which [it] derive[s] [its] authority, and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves, nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves” (James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments in Madison: Writings, The Library of America, 1999, pp. 30-1.). Thomas Jefferson reflects on the negative effect of government coercion; it “makes one half the world fools” for thinking that government can resolve issues of conscience and create a civil society by force of law, “and the other half hypocrites” because they are forced to live in a matter contrary to the dictates of conscience. No matter the religion or philosophy one espouses, if it is favored or disfavored by force of law, “millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of [enter whatever religion/philosophy you want], have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity” (Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson: Writings, in Notes on the State of Virginia, The Library of America, 1984, p. 286.). Madison recognizes that the legal establishment of Christianity has been on trial for fifteen centuries. “What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance, and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution” (Madison, Writings, p. 32.). Without a free and good conscience in a society, people and their beliefs become corrupted and dangerous to civil society. The “still small voice”, freely expressed in society, has the power to prevent, adjust, or abolish what would otherwise become disastrous courses of action. The common thread that links religions and secular philosophies with tyranny, torment, and terror is the suppression of matters of conscience by force of law. Please note that the establishment of one core set of beliefs by force of law is the suppression of others with the horrid results being the same.
The relationship between law and conscience is the former giving deference to the latter. The dictates of conscience must be free from the forces of law. One’s conscience must not be granted legal authority over another’s conscience. If a conscience is to be persuaded in another direction, it must be swayed by intellectual argument, by the consistencies and values emanating from another’s conscience, i.e., core beliefs in action, and/or by coercion by God. Madison could not have said it better in his first argument against using the force of law to grant superiority of the Anglican tradition over any other.
It is a fundamental and undeniable truth that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man, and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable because the opinions of men depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men. It is unalienable also because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. The duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe. And if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any subordinate Association, must always do it with a reservation of his duty to the General Authority; much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance (Emphases added. Madison, Writings, in Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessment, p. 30.).
The founding generation’s desire was to resolve a millenniums-old human struggle with tyranny and violence by creating what the Newport, RI Jewish community would describe as a nation which “to bigotry gives no sanction and to persecution no assistance—but generously affording to all liberty of conscience, and immunities of citizenship—deeming everyone, of whatever nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental machine” Os Guinness, ed., Character Counts, Leadership Qualities in Washington, Wilberforce, Lincoln, and Solzhenitsyn. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI. 1999, p. 58.). In response to this letter, President George Washington offered his wholehearted concurrence.
What are the underlying principles that allow people from variant perspectives, with different core values, to come together and live peaceably in one nation?
The set of principles, which became the foundation of American civil law, are religious in nature and are specifically related to the Ten Commandments (The Decalogue). Other than Islam, the principles laid out in the Ten Commandments are rather universal in the civilized world, especially the last six, which speak to personal interaction with others. The overall guiding principle that naturally flows from these commandments is “do to others what you prefer they would also do to you,” best known as the Golden Rule.
A brief look at the Decalogue (Exodus 20:3-17) reveals the moral underpinnings that support civil society, by protecting one’s relationship with God and with others. Commandments 1-4 state that Jehovah/God (YHWH/Elohim) is the only true God (20:3), separate from and above creation (20:4-5), to be honored (29:7), and regularly worshipped (20:811). Commandments 5-10 deal with laws that protect the sanctity and value of the family (20:12), of human life (20:13), of marriage (20:14), of another person’s property (20:15, 17; it cannot be stolen or coveted), and of truth (20:16). Collectively, these ten universal laws establish in society three universal virtues, in which God delights above all others and longs for others to emulate. “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things” (emphases added; Jeremiah 9:23-4). If the commandments in the Decalogue are adhered to, society will reflect deep concern and respect (love), justice and righteousness among its citizens; to the degree that they are neglected or rejected, society will experience various degrees of indifference, partiality, and indecency. Note that these laws are universal because they are natural, that is, written in the heart of every person (i.e., the conscience). The corruption of these laws, intentionally or through ignorance, to any degree promises a steady move toward more concentrated corruption. Freedom is then reduced, leading inevitably to bondage and tyranny—lawlessness always requires more law and stricter enforcement, which opens the door to human constructs of government: progressivism, socialism, communism, and totalitarianism.
While it is understandable why secularists, atheists, agnostics and the like reject the first four commandments of the Decalogue and may refuse to accept one that protects the traditional family, there can be no rational reason, other than egoism or ignorance, as to why they would reject the 5 laws that prohibit murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting the possessions of others. However, these evils are often justified in nearly every culture and political creed that rejects Judeo-Christian morality. Though rejecting the first 4 commandments severely limits a societal movement toward a truly civil society, the last 6 are indispensable to any society that desires more than a modicum of civility, if it remains committed to all citizens living and thinking in ways that honor the dictates of individual conscience. However, when the non-religious community denies God to others, it begins the searing of conscience to a greater degree in itself and then, its own lack of conscience resorts to diminishing the conscience of others by force of law. Consider these remarks by Governor Cuomo (D) of New York:
The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are (emphasis added, http://www.breitbart.com /Big-Government/2014/01/17/Cuomo-conservative-leave.).
Basically, the governor is saying: “If you don’t think our way, you cannot live in New York.” The consequence of diminishing conscience is the gradual fleecing of republican democracy by the force of law until some form of totalitarianism takes root and is eventually established—freedom is lost! Knowing the real possibility of this undesired fate (or what was in that period of history a possibility of an undesired fate), the Founding generation provided the spawning nation with three unalienable principles (God-given rights) that would form the foundation upon which civility would be built: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The Declaration of Independence laid these principles out before the American people, not only as a reason to separate a historic bond from one nation (Britain), but to be the standard by which a new nation would be formed and given the opportunity to survive. Neither the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution nor thinking people in our time believe that God-given and, therefore, unalienable rights are safe simply because the first American generation established them. As long as Americans ignorantly tolerate–permit systems of thought that deny life, liberty, and pursuits that spring from one’s own beliefs–conscience eventually will be victimized and silenced, love will be replaced by tolerance, justice replaced by favoritism, and righteousness replaced by incivility of every kind. Gradually, politicians and judges will no longer respect human rights and be servants of the people; instead, they become the authors of ideological edicts, purveyors of oppression, and consumers of property and wealth while the people over whom they rule endure life being legally forced into hypocrisy or, if they choose to maintain a mature and healthy conscience, they are put upon to the point of becoming despondent souls or choose to live in hiding from the State. Bigotry is given sanction, to persecution assistance, to differences tolerance, and to a free and good conscience offense. Is this not what we are experiencing daily in the United States? These vices are all the consequence of a corrupted conscience.
 “Subtleties of our brain” is a Jeffersonian nuance that refers to our natural fallen or sinful state.
 Personally, I understand the religious aspect of Islam to be a disguise covering its true and sole political aims. The religious aspect produces more committed and devout followers and tends to make its detractors more tolerant.
 Some will argue that God forced the Israelites by rule of law to follow Him; however, this position forgets or ignores the fact that the Mosaic Law was given to a people who covenanted, that is, made a conditional agreement with God to follow His guidance in order to benefit from His grace and protection. When they violated the agreement, they knew, at least intellectually, that consequences would follow, hence the blessing and the curse statements in Deuteronomy 27-30. In truth, God’s law outlined a path to a blameless and perfect conscience.
 I understand the “pursuit of happiness” to be the freedom to use one’s God-given intellect, talents, and skills to reach his or her fullest potential. It does not include happiness derived from pleasures that diminish life and liberty.
 Jefferson uses the word “Christianity” here because the context of concern in Virginia involved the many Christian denominations in the State at that time. Islam since the 7th century has killed no less than 280 million people due to its legal injunctions against other faiths and perspectives. Secularism and Fascism have murdered their millions upon millions under Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, and the list goes on.
 The Ten Commandments are later accompanied by an additional 603 laws, which were intended to guide the people of Israel and make them a great nation, if they were able to conform to the laws. Critics of the Old Testament always express their discontent over the strenuous nature of these laws, yet just last year the regulatory part of the Executive Branch of government in the United States produced 80,000 regulations in 2013 alone. The nation of Israel was under 613 laws for 1470 years. Which people have the more strenuous burden placed upon them? In the New Testament, Jesus reduced these 613 laws to two: love God and love your neighbor. Two commands which guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
 The first half of this statement was made by George Washington to an American Jewish community. The second half of the statement updates his comments to reflect what has occurred in our modern era.
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