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Stephen Pratt, date not given | Photo courtesy of Bryan Hyde, St. George News

Perspectives: Stephen Pratt, a voice of liberty and learning

OPINION – For too many Americans, the thought of trying to move the cause of liberty appears to be a quixotic waste of time.

The government is too powerful and predatory; the masses too blinded by groupthink and propaganda, and the burden of supporting freedom is quickly becoming too heavy. So why waste our time championing liberty when it counts for nothing to the mainstream?

The answer is simple: because liberty still matters even more than life itself and can only be perpetuated by a people who value it enough to actively support it.

A powerful example of how one might effectively labor in the cause of liberty can be seen in the life of Stephen Pratt.

Early in his life, Pratt served as a college teacher for several years. He held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a leading university and had pursued further graduate studies at another leading university. By most people’s standards he would be considered well educated.

But, at the request of a neighbor, Pratt attended a lecture series on American heritage and the Constitution. It was during this time that he came to realize that there were some serious gaps in his education. In his own words: “I realize now that like most other Americans I was completely, totally, functionally illiterate when it came to a working knowledge of the principles and practices of freedom.”

Unlike most other Americans, Pratt chose to do something about it. He followed the sage advice of his newfound mentor to “do your homework” and he began a lifelong quest of study and teaching.

His studies led him to the pages of the classics of history and philosophy and he was part of the team that wrote the book “The 5000 Year Leap.” It was during his research on the subject of natural law that Pratt became a firm believer in the power of intensive research and using original sources. This Heuristic approach to learning, in which the student is trained to find things out for himself, gave him real scholarly depth and breadth on the subject of liberty.

Unlike many professors and lecturers who seek to build a cult of personality to spread their message, Pratt insisted that his students do more than simply take his word for what he taught. He gave them homework assignments and challenged them to read the original sources for themselves before coming to their own conclusions.

This is important in any subject, but especially when studying the principles of liberty. Any serious student of liberty will attest that much of what the American public learns in school about things like sovereignty, original intent, and the proper role of government is tainted by collectivist philosophy. No worthy cause has ever prospered with an unwillingness to face facts — even the unpleasant facts. This is also true of the cause of liberty.

To Pratt’s credit, his presentations faced the difficult facts squarely, yet were delivered with cheerfulness, humility, and a clear love of God and country. This was especially true of his “Know Your Liberty” seminars taught throughout the U.S. His goals were threefold:

•  Confront our history by careful study. Learn the facts about who we are and where we came from as a people.

•  Apply critical thinking in an effort to discern the disinformation, that which is false and misleading.

•  Share the truth, even if it is painful. Wake the town and tell the people. Be kind, be gentle with love unfeigned.

For 35 years or more Pratt has devoted his life to sharing the message of liberty with all who would hear. He did not charge for his presentations, as he believed that the message of liberty should not be taught for profit.

At each of his seminars there was a large table of books, primarily the original sources he was citing. Pratt did not charge for these books, he only asked for donations to cover the cost of replacing the books. If a person could not afford the donation, he asked them to take the book anyway and study it.

Pratt has taken seriously the charge given by George Washington, who said: “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”

America desperately needs more lovers of liberty like Stephen Pratt.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.
Stephen Pratt

Stephen Pratt, date not given | Photo courtesy of Bryan Hyde, St. George News

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  4 Comments
  1. Karen December 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm · Reply

    That’s just great. Pratt’s mentor is Utah’s beloved Cleon Skousen. I’m old enough to remember all the hype about Skousen’s The Naked Communist book in particular and the fear it created, especially in Utah. The John Birchers were predicting calamities galore. I was a Republican at the time but was relieved when people came to their senses and realized the craziness Skousen’s ideas. How sad that the likes of fear-mongering entertainers like Glenn Beck have plucked Skousen out of the dust where his ideas belonged.

    On a more cheerful note, I read an excellent article about Jon Huntsman. He offered a great critique of today’s Republican party. He commented that right now the Republicans are a fear-based party, “devoid of a soul”. He also commented that they don’t believe in math. Good one, Jon.

  2. Helen Schuenemann January 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm · Reply

    Skousen’s workbooks and tapes are a great resource for parents to teach the Constitution which unfortunately is neglected in our government schools. Skousen and Pratt, teaching from the Federalist Papers and other materials such as the diaries of the founders, their letters and other work papers, allow students learn the intent of the Constitution and are therefore are able to distinguish the right or wrong of proposed legislation by our Congress. It has also helped the many adults/voters who have participated in the many workshops held around the nation learn many forgotten concepts of our nation’s founding and legal formation. I too am grateful for the work of patriots Pratt and Skousen who stand on the shoulders of our forefathers.

  3. Allan Poll January 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm · Reply

    In regards to Karen’s Dec 31, 2012 reply: That’s just great? ~ If you are speaking of the content written in this article, you are right on! I found it to be truthful and inspiring compared to most news we hear in the media or read in our news papers.

    This is the first I’ve heard of Stephen Pratt. I am glad that there is people like him encouraging folks to learn about our freedoms and why the fight for liberty is so important. Obviously the Heuristic approach to learning is not taught in our government schools. You rail on Cleon Skousen as crazy, but that certainly does not describe him at all. I wasn’t born when the book “The Naked Communist” was written, however from looking back on history through the 1920’s to the 1990’s communism has been and still is a great threat. I have a sincere gratitude for Cleon Skousen as well as Mr. Pratt.

    It is through a good many of his books that I have had my eyes opened and been able too see how desperate of a situation the United States is actually in. The hand of providence, Our Almighty God was constantly praised and acknowledged by our founding fathers, now they are taking God out of schools, our students books, and attacking the very foundation in which our country has been built on. It has been by his grace this great nation was founded and yet still stands. Our government has been and is now violating the principles as outlined in “The 5000 Year Leap” that hold our constitution together. Piece by piece I am watching it be unraveled through Corruption, Trickle Down Tyranny,and Greed.

    Why it this topic to serious to be taken lightly? It isn’t the Republicans vs Democrats. It is who is voting for and standing for correct principles. If one is not aware of his or her rights, how easy is it to put them in bondage? It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. Look at who is President and those who sustain him and his agenda.

    The journalist who wrote this column puts it best; “The answer is simple: because liberty still matters even more than life itself and can only be perpetuated by a people who value it enough to actively support it”.

    And one big problem of the day that is far more pressing than addressing fear-mongering people who might annoy you, and that is “No worthy cause has ever prospered with an unwillingness to face facts — even the unpleasant facts”.

    The President and Congress are great at distracting us from the real issues of the day. United We Stand Or Together We Fall.

    • Bryan Hyde January 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm · Reply

      Sadly, Stephen Pratt passed away on Dec 28th after battling brain cancer for the better part of last year. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a more honest or sincere man. He has been a great influence in my life and the lives of many others.

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