- “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” - Theodore Roosevelt
What is at the core of a conservative philosophy? There is some debate as to whether you must believe in God (or in revealed Truth) to be a conservative. A few months ago Heather Mac Donald began a discussion in the online pages of National Review where she contends that religious beliefs and religious arguments actually harm the conservative cause.
I’ve stepped away from this blog for a while, but while I have been absent I have been able to do a lot of thinking about what it means to be conservative, and whether I am conservative, and what, if anything, being a conservative has in common with being a Republican.
I have discovered something- the first thing really; I am a Christian. And my belief provides, among other things, a foundation on which my political perspective is built. I think Mac Donald is right to say that you don’t have to believe in a God to be a conservative. Perhaps one could say that belief in God and conservative principles are not inextricably linked; certainly the many evangelical and mainline Christians that have adopted liberal positions on issues such as poverty, education and, more recently, global warming (www.sojo.net) provide ample evidence of that.
Mac Donald contends that knowledge of history and an assessment of human nature provide an ample framework for conservative philosophy. However, I would assert that, at the minimum, one has to believe in, or give difference to, a transcendent moral code in order to be conservative. And I find that Christian faith goes far beyond the minimum framework necessary for my political philosophy.
It is my belief in that framework, in addition to my observation of history and human nature, that has prompted my conclusion that we must conserve the heritage of the Judeo-Christian nation we live in. The moral framework provided by Christian beliefs provides a foundation for Western society and for conservative political thought, but it is not exclusively conservative, it is the foundation for society, the rule of law and for our nation’s founding documents.
I am Christian, but because I am Christian does not necessarily mean that I am politically conservative. In fact, to tie the two too closely together is to do disservice to both.
As I ponder this topic I find myself looking much further back at what I believed, and how that affected who I was and what I did, and I came to the conclusion that in order to know which way to go, I needed to know where I had been.
So I am embarking on a series of blogs that I hope will explore the central core of what I believe, what a conservative is, whether that philosophy is necessarily tied to the Republican party, and what course is best plotted as we consider the future of the conservative philosophy. To be continued...