Conservatism is often equated with the “Religious Right.” While there certainly are conservatives who lead with their religion, the two are not the same.
One’s dedication and adherence to religion varies from person to person. And being religious is certainly not a domain solely-owned by conservatives. In 2020, when one thinks of a religious person, they often think immediately of the religious right. But it is silly to think there aren’t liberals who attend church services under all variations and denominations of religion.
Personally, I believe in God, though I don’t much need organized religion. Like many conservatives, I firmly believe rights are not given to us from other people – and they’re certainly not granted to us by government. Remember that whoever gives us rights can also take them away.
Rights come from a higher power. Call it God, call it Allah… whatever frame of reference allows you to understand and believe is fine.
But we are not given the right to pursue our happiness from someone in government. This is why religion is an obstacle to the goals of Socialism. Religion enforces the notion that rights came from a higher power. Socialism cannot take hold unless people accept that rights are determined by government officials.
Our society has certainly evolved from the times of the Founding Fathers. In those times, it was far more common for nearly everyone to have faith in God. That is why it is wholly accurate to say that this nation was founded on the belief in God.
Yes, they were very specific about allowing religious freedoms – the ability for one to pursue and worship whatever God and religion they wished (or, none at all). But this country was founded on faith, and it still guides our culture to this day.
Certainly this causes many conflicts. Atheists, for example, are not necessarily comfortable, in the classic scenario, when Christmas is celebrated or acknowledged by any level of government.
The distinction that too often gets lost, though, is that our country’s approach to religion is an affirmation of rights to celebrate it. Our laws allow for people to worship and celebrate as they choose (within the parameters of other laws and social contracts). Our founders wanted us to feel comfortable with our religion. They did not, in any documents of which I am aware, suggest suppressing worship.
It was not the founder’s intent to prevent anyone from celebration or worship. It was the founder’s intent to prevent the state from imposing one religion upon society, from making one renounce their religious beliefs and making us free to believe and worship as we please.
Consider the classic religious dilemma – the nativity scene. If City Hall erects a nativity scene around Christmas time, non-believers should not be protesting or trying to have it removed. Non-believers should be proactive about erecting their own symbol of worship.
If you follow a religion that has no significant event in late December, why be offended because there is a religion that does. If the significant event in your religion takes place in June, then speak to City Hall about allowing a representation of your religion in June.
If you are an atheist and you have no dates of religious significance, then why upset yourself with those who are following their beliefs.
Because City Hall erects a nativity scene, it doesn’t mean they speak for all citizens.
The nativity scene is not the state forcing anyone to believe in a state religion. At worst it’s offensive. But the constitution does not protect us from being offended. If it did, we’d have no taxes, no mention of global warming ever again, no teacher’s unions, etc.
Another example that I’ve never fully understood is how upset some people get over the presence of the Ten Commandments. If you are not a Catholic, and you simply take the Bible on its face, there are many great lessons of morality to be learned.
It’s an important distinction that the morals that make up the foundation of our society are determined by our laws, not the Bible.
But the Bible echoes many of them.
Going back to the Ten Commandments: who can argue with not killing another? How about not stealing? Not committing adultery? Is the thought of your child seeing these rules on the wall of their school every day that great of a threat?
This is also a moment to parent. If it is a threat because you practice a different religion, then this is an opportunity to expose your child to other religions and explain some of the history behind the founding of the country.
It is a subtle distinction between religious conservatives wanting to tell everyone how to live versus setting standards that guide our behavior.
Some religious conservatives want to legislate morality. The freedom of the individual is still a foundational belief among most of them, but that includes the freedom to persuade. The difference is that they want to put into law the morals that bind our culture and want to maintain the stigmas that go along with bad or dangerous behavior like premarital sex or taking drugs – along with the praise that comes with helping others or being polite. But that doesn’t mean they want to post sentries at every home to monitor all of the activity within. And like every other law, we can debate it and reject it if that’s what we want.
Many of the people most active in trying to maintain these judgments and standards are the same people who try to help people who have troubles with those issues. In other words, they’re harsh before the act, but compassionate after it happens. Which is very consistent with their belief in the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
When you have problems, you want solutions and understanding.
The difference is that conservatives aren’t shy about telling someone they shouldn’t gamble before the bad situation the results from when they do. But then, even after the warning, conservatives will be there to help.
“Separation of Church and State” is probably the most misunderstood idea in our constitution. It doesn’t say that there can be no representation of God in any state buildings. The country was founded on a belief in God.
What the phrase means is the government cannot create a state religion that is funded by the people and forced upon the people. If we could simply understand that concept as a society, many of our arguments would go away.