Comprehending laws and contracts is impossible, unless we first learn the meaning of the words and phrases they contain.

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See also Alien


No occurrences of the words “alienable,” “unalienable” or “inalienable” were found in the KJV or other translations I checked.

Here are some comments about “unalienable rights” from a biblical perspective:

Anti-Thought Control Dictionary, Ben Williams

The unalienable liberties and guaranteed benefits that are every person's from birth. "Rights" are not "privileges." Rights come from God, and privileges are granted from the state.

A "right" is a claim against another man's property or performance. It is an acquired debt subject to claim and collection. One man's "right" equates to a debt or a demand against some other man, or men. BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY defines it as: "A capacity residing in one man of controlling, with the assent and assistance of the state, the actions of others. ... A legally enforceable claim of one person against another, that the other shall do a given act, or shall not do a given act. " "Rights" are not acquired by birth, but by contract or debt.

The theory that all men are born with "unalienable rights," as stated by philosophers (e.g., The Declaration of Independence), suggests that every man is born with inherent collectible claims (debts) against God or mankind in general. This theory originates in slavery mentality, not in God's Word.

God's word instructs us that happiness, freedom, and security are not ours by right, but on condition that we follow His law (Dt.. 28:1; 30:15-20; Jms 1:22-25; 2:15-26). Nowhere does God's Word indicate that men are born with an automatic claim upon these things. We are born helpless and in need of instruction and goodwill – especially from God. In Christ we develop the will and power to seek freedom. But if we sit back and demand freedom be handed to us, nothing will happen. Claiming a "right" to be free is like claiming a "right" to be able to swim. It won't happen unless you are willing to work to achieve it. Freedom is not free!

To claim "rights" against government implies that a covenant, and thus a debt, exists between claims or demands. The act of making the claim and pursuing it in government courts indicates a tacit covenant and establishes government jurisdiction. It is idolatry because it acknowledges and validates the false god called "government."
“Commerce vs. Unalienable Rights” from The Christian Jural Society News, John Joseph
Commerce vs. Unalienable Rights.pdf
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Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
A'LIENABLE, adjective
That may be sold, or transferred to another; as, land is alienable according to the laws of the State.
UN, a prefix or inseparable preposition, un or on, usually un an, is the same word as the Latin in. It is a particle of negation, giving to words to which it is prefixed, a negative signification. We use un or in indifferently for this purpose; and the tendency of modern usage is to prefer the use of in, in some words, where un was formerly used. un admits of no change of n into l, m or r, as in does, in illuminate, immense, irresolute. It is prefixed generally to adjectives and participles, and almost at pleasure. In a few instances, it is prefixed to verbs, as in unbend, unbind, unharness. As the compounds formed with un are so common and so well known, the composition is not noticed under the several words. For the etymologies, see the simple words.
IN, a prefix, Latin in is used in composition as a particle of negation, like the English un, of which it seems to be a dialectical orthography; or it denotes within, into, or among, as in inbred, incase; or it serves only to augment or render emphatical the sense of the word to which it is prefixed, as in inclose, increase.
UNA'LIENABLE, adjective
Not alienable; that cannot be alienated; that may not be transferred; as unalienable rights.
INA'LIENABLE, adjective [Latin alieno, alienus.]
Unalienable; that cannot be legally or justly alienated or transferred to another. The dominions of a king are inalienable All men have certain natural rights which are inalienable The estate of a minor is inalienable without a reservation of the right of redemption, or the authority of the legislature.
Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1856

1. This word is applied to those things, the property of which cannot be lawfully transferred from one person to another. Public highways and rivers are of this kind; there are also many rights which are inalienable, as the rights of liberty, or of speech.

1. The state of a thing or right which cannot be sold.
2. Things which are not in commerce, as public roads, are in their nature unalienable. Some things are unalienable, in consequence of particular provisions in the law forbidding their sale or transfer, as pensions granted by the government. The natural rights of life and liberty are unalienable.
Black’s Law Dictionary, 1st Edition, 1891
Not subject to alienation;: the characteristic of those things which cannot be bought or sold or transferred from one person to another, such as rivers and public high ways, and certain personal rights: e. g., liberty.
Incapable of being aliened, that is, sold and transferred.
The Century Dictionary, an Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language, 1895
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Black’s Law Dictionary, abridged 6th Edition, 1991

Proper to be the subject of alienation or transfer.

Alienable Constitutional Rights

Right to a trial by jury, to counsel, and not to incriminate one’s self, and related matters are “alienable constitutional rights” which may be waived whenever assertable.

Not subjecy to alienation; the characteristic of those things which cannot be bought or sold or transferred from one person to another, such as rivers and public highways, and certin personal rights; e.g., liberty.
Inalienable Rights

Rights which are not capable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing such rights; e.g., freedom of speech or religion, due process, and equal protection of the laws.

Inalienable; incapable of being aliened, that is sold and transferred.

Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition, 1999

Capable of being transferred to the ownership of another; transferrable <an alienable property interest>

Not transferable or assignable <inalienable property interests>.
Inalienable Right

A right that cannot be transferred or surrendered; esp. a natural right such as the right to own property.

See inalienable.

WEX Legal Dictionary
Not transferable; impossible to take away.


Declaration of Independence, 1776
“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.
FDR’s January 11, 1944 State of the Union Address:
“This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights--among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however--as our industrial economy expanded--these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.”
School Dist. of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U. S. 203, 213 (1963)
The “fact that the Founding Fathers believed devotedly that there was a God and that the unalienable rights of man were rooted in Him is clearly evidenced in their writings, from the Mayflower Compact to the Constitution itself.”
22 U.S. Code § 7101 - Purposes and findings
One of the founding documents of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of all people. It states that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. The right to be free from slavery and involuntary servitude is among those unalienable rights. Acknowledging this fact, the United States outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude in 1865, recognizing them as evil institutions that must be abolished. Current practices of sexual slavery and trafficking of women and children are similarly abhorrent to the principles upon which the United States was founded.
Chancellor Walworth, speaking for the Court of Errors of the state, said:
'By the common law, the king as parens patriae owned the soil under all the waters of all navigable rivers or arms of the sea where the tide regularly ebbs and flows, including the shore or bank to high-water mark. * * * He held these rights, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of his subjects at large, who were entitled to the free use of the sea, and all tide waters, for the purposes of navigation, fishing, etc., subject to such regulations and restrictions as the crown or the Parliament might prescribe. By Magna Charta, and many subsequent statutes, the powers of the king are limited, and he cannot now deprive his subjects of these rights by granting the public navigable waters to individuals. But there can be no doubt of the right of Parliament in England, or the Legislature of this state, to make such grants, when they do not interfere with the vested rights of particular individuals. The right to navigate the public waters of the state and to fish therein, and the right to use the public highways, are all public rights belonging to the people at large. They are not the private unalienable rights of each individual. Hence the Legislature as the representatives of the public may restrict and regulate the exercise of those rights in such manner as may be deemed most beneficial to the public at large: Provided they do not interfere with vested rights which have been granted to individuals.'

[Note: Very similar quotes are attributed to different people. These are examples of what is called "liberty rhetoric".]

John Locke:
Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other.
James Madison:
We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, that religion, or the duty we owe our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.
[A]ll power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty and the right of acquiring property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purpose of its institution.
John Adams:
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.
Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.
George Mason:
Government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit and security of the people, nation or community; whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public Weal.
Alexander Hamilton:
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.
George Washington:
Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the supineness or venality of their constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to show, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other
Eric Schaub:
Our inalienable rights cannot shield us from our own follies.
Alex Epstein:
America was founded on the principle of inalienable rights, not dictated duties. The Declaration of Independence states that every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It does not state that he is born a slave to the needs of others.
Ronald Reagan:
Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation from government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.
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