WASHINGTON – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Friday that the United States is “in a full-blown spiritual crisis” and encouraged Americans to take a deep look at the nation and themselves.
“Our foundation is cracking. It is not that we’ve chosen the wrong politicians, although that’s a debatable question. It is more fundamental than that. It requires a deeper introspection,” he said in a speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to the Majority” policy conference. “We should pray for our country and our leaders.”
The potential 2016 presidential candidate said the country faces great challenges and has arrived at its “day of reckoning.”
“I think that often our culture seeks to separate faith and freedom,” Paul said. “Freedom needs virtue and virtue needs freedom.”
“Citizenship and good government require the involvement of a virtuous people,” he continued. “Liberty is absolutely essential to virtue. It is our freedom to make individual choices that allows us to be virtuous.”
The Kentucky Republican said America will thrive when its people recognize that “freedom requires faith to sustain it,” while, at the same time, realizing the value of virtue in a democracy.
“Those of us who love freedom must realize that freedom is not a license to do as you please, freedom can only be realized when citizens know self-restraint, or, in other words, virtue,” he said.
Paul quoted political scientist Don Devine, evangelist Billy Graham and author Os Guinness, among others, to emphasize how freedom and tradition are intertwined.
“The great achievement of the Constitution’s framers was to provide the means for synthesizing freedom and tradition,” he said. “America needs to revive tradition.”
Paul said that government cannot claim the same motivation to help others as those guided by their faith.
“Government can supply bread, but it can’t mend a broken spirit,” he said.
Paul said people should not shy away from their faith in their public lives.
“Citizenship and good government require the involvement of a virtuous people,” he said. “Your faith and your church are and should be part of the public arena. Reject any politician who claims that faith cannot be part of the public life.”
Paul blamed members of both parties for deviating from some of the principles of freedom and tradition enshrined in the Constitution.
“I’ve seen the belly of the beast and I can tell you without exaggeration that I’ve met the enemy and the enemy is too often us. The enemy is the bipartisan looting of the Treasury, the bipartisan destruction of our currency, the bipartisan sprint away from our republic limited by the Constitution.”
He chastised Congress for passing bills that he said exempt its members, while they often fail to read the text of many bills before they are signed into law.
“This must end. I say no bill should ever pass that has not been read,” Paul said. “I have a proposal. Make them wait one day for every 20 pages.”
Paul led a group of past and future Republican presidential candidates speaking at the event on Friday – including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) – that according to organizers brought more than 1,000 evangelical Christian leaders to the nation’s capital.
“What America needs is not just another politician with more promises. What America needs is a revival,” he said.
Paul also emphasized his position on abortion, proclaiming that the “war against the unborn must end.”
“I believe that no nation, no civilization, can long endure that doesn’t respect life from those that are not yet born to life’s last breath,” he said. “I will stand up for unborn children as long as I’m privileged to be in office.”