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Tuesday, 19 March 2019 12:33

God created our freedoms – not the State

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Professor Augusto Zimmerman is a law lecturer, President of the Western Australia Legal Theory Association, and editor-in-chief of the Western Australia Jurist. He is also a former Law Reform Commissioner in Western Australia. Augusto recently published a three-volume set, Christian Foundations of the Common Law, which explains the Christian roots of the British, American and Australian legal systems. I met him at the recent Church and State Summit in Brisbane, where he very kindly allowed me to record this short summary of his thesis.

A transcript is available below the video.

The roots of rights and freedoms, the foundations of our rights and freedoms – undoubtedly, these are Christian foundations.

The American founding fathers, for instance, believed in the idea of inalienable rights and freedoms. That means that these rights are not state-given, otherwise they wouldn’t be inalienable. I can’t find a more solid foundation for the protection of individual rights and freedoms than to believe that these rights are not state-given; they are actually given by God.

Otherwise, if the state gives, the state takes away.

The founders didn’t want to bless the name of the state. They were actually basing their ideas of rights and freedoms on a transcendental source of information about rights and freedoms. And what I do with my students is to explain this source. And to tell them that it’s a solid idea where we can understand much better reality through this lens.

So, the common law is a good example, because most of the common lawyers were committed Christians. And they believed in this idea that the purpose of the law is to fulfil the realisation of God’s kingdom. And the idea that everyone, regardless of gender, regardless of social condition are the recipient of these inalienable rights. And so the state, the blessed function of the state, and the purpose of the government is to actually guarantee that these rights are protected.

Otherwise, we have the right to resist tyranny. Another aspect of our western history is that government that doesn’t protect our rights and freedoms can be resisted. And that’s why the American founders decided to fight for their freedoms through the American revolution.

The American Declaration of Independence made it very clear that the purpose of government is to honour God by protecting the basic rights of the people. Thank you.


Augusto Zimmerman’s books can be purchased online at