Why conservatives should remain secular

why_conservatives_should_remain_secular

Conservatives must feel the temptation to join the religious movement opposed to modernity. It withdraws from the world, has unity and a clear purpose. Many are tempted to state that the origin of conservatism rests in religion.

I discourage this approach and encourage instead that we remain secular. Secular, in the oldest sense, means simply “religion is not required.” It does not assess the truth-value of religion at all, or encourage anything less than full acceptance of it. But it does say that you do not need to be religious to participate.

This approach is distinct from that of atheists, who take the position that religion is illogical, and agnostics, who believe in the possibility but not certainty of a metaphysical presence.

A workable conservative position needs to be proved via common sense, fact and observation of the world through history and human nature. It cannot rely on religion. To do so not only excludes many good people, but creates a single weak point of attack. That encourages people to flip polarity when they have doubts and turn on the whole package.

Instead, conservatives should make the point that religion and common sense agree: conservatism is the most realistic response to life. It not only provides true answers, but provides a way to produce a society that rises above functional to levels of beauty, awe and goodness.

Any other basis puts us into the camp of manipulators and clubhouse doorkeepers. People can join us simply by understanding reality and applying what they learn. We are those who conserve: learning, culture, heritage, nature, values and spirituality. We do that by not requiring spirituality first.

History is our laboratory. We have 6,000 years of human nature on record and every type of government that can be invented. We have studies of great personalities and philosophy that analyzes moral questions. What we need is well known, it is simply denied. The only way to crush that denial is to go to the root of the issue, which is that conservatism is realistic and everything else is wishful thinking.

This does not say that we should be hostile to religion. Rather, we should be welcoming to it. However, if we make it a requirement for our belief, we enfeeble conservatism and replace it with a social group. That will inevitably lead to small-mindedness, self-enforcing dogma and circular firing squads.

17 Comments

  1. Wild says:

    “It does not assess the truth-value of religion at all, or encourage anything less than full acceptance of it. But it does say that you do not need to be religious to participate.”

    Clearly it encourages less than full acceptance of religion when it says religion is unnecessary to participate. What society do you know of that “went secular” and did not move towards ever-increasing atheism?

    “Instead, conservatives should make the point that religion and common sense agree: conservatism is the most realistic response to life.”

    This should be edited to state “…that conservative religion and common sense agree…”. Standard American Protestantism (SAP) is liberalism with some amount of mind-numbing metaphysics thrown in for distraction. It has nothing to say to conservatives.

    Religion is not inherently conservative. It is a tool. Nothing more.

    1. What society do you know of that “went secular” and did not move towards ever-increasing atheism?

      There are two definitions of secular:

      The first means that the society is exclusively secular.

      The second means that it is friendly to religion, but religion is not required to derive any of its principles or understand it. Culture trumps religion.

      Europe in the classical sense arose from such a secular culture. Its pagan roots transitioned to Christianity with culture intact. But something else was going wrong, some other form of decay. This infected everything, including Christianity.

      Standard American Protestantism (SAP) is liberalism with some amount of mind-numbing metaphysics thrown in for distraction. It has nothing to say to conservatives.

      The same is true of Catholicism: the Pope’s a Red. But we work with what we have, and most crucially, improve it so that it sways closer to what works before for culture.

      1. Wild says:

        Culture did not transfer intact; you are well aware of the revisionistic hatred and hysteria Christians heaped on prior pagan beliefs.

        I don’t think the decay was tangential to Christianity, rather the cult was an expression of failing values amid growing prole resentment.

        When the Catholic pope says Christianity is Marxism with metaphysics, he’s not wrong.

  2. anon says:

    Good post. This needs to be repeated more often for the young internet atheists out there. The anarchists are converting them all.

    When I started to lean conservative I considered joining the church, thinking there was something I was missing or didn’t understand about it. It was a stumbling block for a while.

    Side note: I’m getting an error when I try to sort articles by author:Brett Stevens

    http://www.amerika.org/author/brett-stevens/

    1. Try this link:

      http://www.amerika.org/author/prozak/

      I think conservatism inherently supports religiosity more than religion and, unlike liberalism, rewards pursuit of religion directly instead of through the proxy of ideology.

  3. […] ADDED: A (loosely) connected argument from Brett Stevens. […]

  4. anon says:

    (cont.) I do think religion serves a social function. I’d have no problem attending church if I lived in a homogeneous small town

    Some people need to be told “God wants you to do this” to make moral decisions and find their motivation.

    Lofty ideas about the future of humanity, ethnic loyalty, tradition, overpopulation and deep ecology are too abstract for most people.

    1. Good points. Also: “God rewards this even if you get no physical reward.”

  5. Internet comment writer says:

    In traditional society everything was interconnected in an integral way through trancendent-metaphysic principles, I.E. religion.

    The notion of analytical-rational derived politicial ideology is incompatible with a Traditional perspective, thus antimodernism can never be a political movement.

    Modernity is a sad trap where we are seduced to play along on modernitys terms in order to fight it, but really we have no other option than to try to preserve Tradition in ourselves and in our envirionment.

  6. NotTheDude says:

    A major heresy in Western societies is to admit that half of what modern Atheists (almost all mainstream Atheists are staunch Leftists) stand for is bullshit that most just parrot without thinking and that Religion is actually very logical, meaningful and beautiful at its core.

    1. Nurturing beauty in life should always be known as a noble goal.

  7. Brett, I have a Zen koan for you:

    Define religion.

    1. In the context of this article, “metaphysics” should do nicely.

      1. I’m having trouble articulating my disagreement. I agree with the substance of your post. There should be no religious test for being counted as a conservative.

        I have a minor disagreement with you over semantics. I want to use the word, “religion”, more broadly, to include things that exhibit similar kinds of coalitional psychology, like Leftism. “Religion and/or quasi-religion” is too cumbersome. So I am pleading for a looser usage of “religion”.

        I am also uncomfortable with what you say about “common sense”. Somebody at The Belmont Club made a comment a while back, “What the totalitarians have succeeded in doing is poisoning the fruit of the wisdom of crowds.” I’m afraid that what we need now is uncommon sense.

  8. Funny, because Leftism could be rightly described a s a proper religion. That’s as far as I’ll go, because they sure as hell don’t need any more tax exemptions than they’ve already voted for themselves.

    Leftism has an all-powerful entity: the State. Check.
    Has a belief system which allows for no dissent. Check.
    Handles apostates vigorously and violently. Check.
    The true believers cannot be shown the error of their ways, even when the facts are undeniably 8 inches up their asses lighting matches. heck. Check. Mate.

    Conservatism has been infiltrated by Xianity, not to be confused with Christianity, and definitely full of inanity. The Great Debate of Embryonic Stem Cell Research became an absolute debacle for the Right, who insisted on preserving the sanctity of life over scientific data of the time, that most of the progress being made in stem-cell research was from adult stem cells. It also painted them into a corner where they couldn’t make proper arguments about Alzheimer’s Disease. Sanctity of Life! Sanctity of Life! When they should have been arguing that what their opponents were proposing was nothing more than a treatment that did nothing to cure the cause of the symptoms.

    In short, Xian infiltrators set the Conservative movement back 50 years. It also made a hostile environment for Muslims, who tend to have a conservative bent, despite the different frame of reference. Ditto for theologists of other faiths.

    The Republican party in its current state needs to die so that a sensible alternative (read: secular) can arise.

  9. […] Stevens of Amerika.org argued in a recent article that “our” arguments ought to remain secular. After all, broadly religious arguments are lost on the irreligious, and specifically religious […]

  10. John Engelman says:

    According to a Gallup poll taken May 3-6, 2012 58 percent of Republicans believe that “God created humans in present form within last 10,000 years.”

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx

    I am confident that the percentage was much smaller before Jerry Falwell created the Moral Majority in 1979. Before the religious right became a factor in American politics Protestant Fundamentalists were fairly evenly divided between those who voted Republican, those who voted Democratic, and those who had little to do with politics, and who were passively waiting for the second coming of Christ.

    In 1980 Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority convinced these people that they should vote against a born again Baptist and for a man who divorced his first wife, seldom attended church, voted for a law legalizing abortion in California, and spent his formative years in Hollywood.

    Secular conservatives may wrinkle their noses at Christian conservatives. Nevertheless, Christian conservatives are an essential part of the Republican coalition. Without them the Reagan “revolution” (actually it was a counter revolution) and the Republican ascendancy would probably not have happened.

Leave a Reply

37 queries. 1.025 seconds