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Is the Pursuit of Happiness a God-Given Right?
By Don Hooser

What did Thomas Jefferson and the other writers of the Declaration of Independence mean by "the pursuit of happiness"? How important is this right according to history and the Bible? (This is the third article in a series on the God-given rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.")

he American Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776, contains these famous words: "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" (emphasis added).

Understanding the history and meaning of this sentence is worthwhile because it has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" (Lucas, "Justifying America," 85) and "the most potent and consequential words in American history" (Ellis, American Creation, 55 -- 56). And this three-article series has been written to show from the Bible that God has granted humanity considerable freedom -- freedom which is highly valuable and which man should try to preserve, protect and use for godly purposes.

But the emphasis in these previous writings was never on a shallow pursuit of sensual pleasure.
Another purpose of this article is to explain what Thomas Jefferson and the American founders were thinking when they wrote that one of our natural rights is "the pursuit of happiness." In this 21st century, some people falsely assume that what the founders had in mind was a kind of shallow devotion to perpetual pleasure and emotional bliss. They use the noble phrase "pursuit of happiness" to justify self-centered hedonism.

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Related Information:

Other Articles by Don Hooser
Keywords: pursuit of happiness private property right of private propery pleasure 

Human rights:

Happiness: Key Subjects Index
General Topics Index
Biblical References Index
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