Americans for Constitutional Government, a civic organization active in the Greenville area since 1962, held their annual New Year’s Banquet on Saturday, January 17. The theme of the event was the exercise of virtue at the community level. Retired Greenville County sheriff’s deputy Hobart Lewis, ACG Director Josiah Magnuson, and Good Neighbors Project founder Patricia Wheat were the featured speakers.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance and Constitution Preamble, as well as rousing music from the Magnuson family “Truth Trio,” Dr. Nicky Chavers of the Taylors-based ministry The Academy of Arts started off the event with a devotional and invocation. Dr. Chavers gave a passionate call for Christians in America to take responsibility. He identified the problems in our country as originating not from Washington, DC, but from within our own hearts. Dr. Chavers challenged the church not to continue neglecting their role to define cultural boundaries, but to remember that “judgment must begin at the house of God” and uphold the “self-evident truths” that the country is built upon – in particular, our unalienable rights that no one may take away.
Retired sheriff’s deputy Hobart Lewis spoke on the relationship of local law enforcement with citizens. Mr. Lewis gave an inside look into how law enforcement officers think and react to the situations they encounter. He emphasized that “they are human beings inside that car.” He said that there were many times where the Lord protected him in dangerous circumstances. Mr. Lewis mentioned that control over the police force needs to be held at a community level. Provided this is the case, he said citizens should not be intimidated by police, but should be able to be confident that law enforcement officers will be servant-leaders who truly care about people. He also expressed his support for ACG and encouraged the group to recruit many more folks in the battle for Biblically- and constitutionally- based liberty.
Josiah Magnuson, the current director of ACG, presented an overview of his research on the tools the Founders gave us for taking our country back from the brink of tyranny. He reiterated Dr. Chavers’ view that the states and “we the people” are the real problem, because we have not fulfilled our God-given responsibilities. For example, Mr. Magnuson cited statistics showing that “conservative” or Republican-controlled states receive much more Federal money than liberal states. In fact, South Carolina currently receives the highest amount of funding from Washington, DC proportional to the amount our state sends in. Mr. Magnuson stated that this dependency belies a fundamental lack of “virtue” among the American people. He demonstrated from the writings of John Adams, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and other Founders that no theoretical check on government power will be sufficient if the people are not virtuous.
Mr. Magnuson stated that the current push for a Convention of States for this reason is fundamentally unwise, because it would attempt to give to an unvirtuous people the power to change our supreme law. He emphasized that term limits, a balanced budget amendment, or any other reform on paper will be of no effect if the people and the states do not have the will to enforce them by virtuously resisting their violation. On the other hand, there is no need for a Convention of States to amend the Constitution if the states and the people would be virtuous and enforce the Constitution as it is currently written. Either way, Mr. Magnuson stated that virtue itself – the moral courage to resist evil and do right regardless of the consequences – is the only solution.
Mr. Magnuson further presented the Bill of Rights as the Founders’ plan to save America. He showed that where a people are virtuous, they will exercise these rights – and that the exercise of the first four Amendments in particular within a community will in itself defend that community’s liberty. Mr. Magnuson challenged the group to “speak, publish, and petition” and to organize in neighborhood associations based in homes and churches. He introduced Thomas Jefferson’s “Hundreds Plan,” comparing it to the words of Alexis de Tocqueville on associations, and demonstrated that the Founders believed the power to maintain freedom was found not in Article V but in an armed, educated, and self-structured citizenry practicing virtue. In our day, the first step to achieving such a reality must be a spiritual awakening in which families and churches actively lead for truth, pointing others to Christ and His law in every area of life, including civil government.
Mr. Magnuson challenged the group to be people of virtue, not for what can “win,” but for what is right. He further asked them to remain involved as members of Americans for Constitutional Government, which he said is a local association in the vein Jefferson and de Tocqueville believed to be vital. In particular, he said his goal for the coming year will be to recruit people of all ages, but specifically young folks, for an ACG Constitution Club that will give training in Founding principles.
Before the break, the attendees were given cards to nominate Board members to assist in growing the ACG group. The ACG members with the three highest numbers of nominations were Rev. Mark Evans, Chester Johnson, and Carole Gibson. The group will choose Board members at the regular meeting on February 23 from among all those nominated.
After the break, several important announcements were given. Ted Adams, Chairman of the SC Constitution Party and a Council member of Soldiers of Biblical Reformation (formerly the Young Christian Leaders’ Alliance), emphasized the need to care for one another as neighbors and announced a special effort to get churches more involved. Julian Smith, president of the Conservatives of the Upstate based in Pickens, SC, announced a patriotic March on Columbia being organized for early spring. Fran Eskridge, a new author, announced her book, “As Incense Ascending,” and stressed the need for prayer to God as we face daily needs.
The final speaker was Patricia Wheat of Lexington County, SC. Mrs. Wheat was a longtime advocate against domestic violence but is now an outspoken champion of Biblical governmental principles. She presented a broad perspective on “how government by the people is supposed to work.” Her major theme was that the militia spoken of in the Second Amendment, far from being a dangerous entity, is the fundamental unit of a free society. She said that the idea of the militia relates directly to Christ’s command, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Mrs. Wheat challenged the group with numerous pieces of evidence and Biblical passages showing that dependence on the state to fulfill the duties God has given to individuals, families, and churches is nothing less than idolatry. We should seek to protect one another, not outsource this obligation to “hirelings” who do not serve our interests or know how to relate to us and our neighbors.
Mrs. Wheat concluded with a presentation of the Good Neighbors Project and how their goal is to fulfill Jefferson’s “Hundreds Plan” by creating a community of one hundred virtuous citizens in every precinct in South Carolina. She plans to begin with Lexington County and move to Greenville and other counties shortly. She said anyone can call her if they would like to participate in this effort, at 803-312-3406.
The event was concluded with a benediction by Rev. Roy G. Magnuson.
ACG will continue to hold regular meetings on the fourth Monday of the month at 10am. Their usual meeting place is Symmes Library on Pelham Rd. They plan to begin a Constitution Club as well on the first Saturday of the month, beginning February 7 at 7pm, at the Scriptorium in Taylors. Josiah Magnuson will teach through the U.S. Constitution and related documents in a way that can be understood by all ages. The public is invited.
If you have questions on how to get involved in Americans for Constitutional Government, please email thevirtuesolution
@gmail.com, or call 864-420-7933.