Monday, March 03, 2014

Is Atheism and Conservatism Compatible?

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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convenes its annual conference later this week near Washington DC. CPAC has been known as a safe haven for conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives.

It annually highlights conservatives and works to help elect them.

In an apparent attempt to "build a bigger tent," CPAC invited the American Atheist organization founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair to be a participant this year.

After considerable push back from certain conservatives, CPAC then dis-invited the atheist group. The atheists are angry and are telling the press what they had wanted to tell the conservatives had they been a participant in this week's conference.

Part of their message of enlightenment is that religion is counterproductive to conservatism.

Which raises the question, "Is Atheism compatible with Conservatism?"

Some thoughts from William F. Buckley Jr., Michael Youssef and others. And a personal thought.

Days after being dis-invited from this week's Conservative Political Action Conference, American Atheists called on the conservative movement to sever its "close ties to dogmatic religious beliefs."

They said, "We want to raise the question about the close ties between conservatism and religion."

"We want to bring the message to CPAC that there are millions of conservatives out there who are turned off and alienated by the conservative movement's close ties to dogmatic religious beliefs," the atheist group says.

They added that their registration was canceled by conference organizers who said that the group was not willing "to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government."

The group's leader told CNN last week they wanted to "enlighten the Christian Right."

American Atheists insisted that it wants "nothing but positive dialogue." At the same time, the group maintained that "conservative" does not mean "Christian" and that Christianity is not an important element of conservatism or even a required one.

Conservatism cannot be equated with Christianity, it contended. The group pointed to the growing percentage of non-theists, citing a Pew Forum study that shows 19 percent of self-identifying conservatives are unaffiliated with any religion, and that 14 percent of atheists self-identify as conservative.

Religion is counterproductive for conservatism, the group went on to claim. "The percentage of conservatives who are atheists is not only shockingly large, but growing. Approximately 50 percent of non-religious Americans prefer a smaller government, but only 20 percent will call themselves 'conservative.' Conservatism is losing out on millions of potential voters because of its close ties to religious fundamentalism on social issues like LGBT rights, science education, abortion, etc."

Is true conservatism really compatible with atheism and secularism?

Communism embodies secularism.

William F. Buckley, Jr., is often believed to be, along with Ronald Reagan, the father of the modern conservative movement. Buckley, as you may know, founded the National Review.

In the preface to his book, "God and Man at Yale," Buckley wrote: "I consider this battle of education theory important and worth time and thought even in the context of a world-situation that seems to render totally irrelevant any fight except the power struggle against Communism. I myself believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level. I believe that if and when the menace of Communism is gone, other vital battles, at present subordinated, will emerge to the foreground. And the winner must have help from the class room."

Our Founders also recognized there is a God and that He made all things. And that His immutable moral laws must apply to all men, to all nations all the time.

This is what true modern conservatives are seeking to conserve.

So-called "enlightenment" is the problem, not the social solution.

Michael Youssef has written an excellent article on this subject. He says in our current culture, words have been so redefined that it is often difficult to know what they mean at any given time. However, he says, he thinks that those who say they are fiscally conservative, but not socially conservative generally mean that they believe in capitalism, free market, hard work and reward, lower taxes and smaller government, etc.

He says the social side currently has 2 national issues which they don't oppose. 1. Abortion on demand, and 2. Homosexual marriage should equate with heterosexual marriage.

Youssef says there is a major problem trying to fit this together, because in God's economy, total acceptance of Judeo-Christian morals has usually accompanied true blessings and economical prosperity.

American history is an outstanding example. Obedience to God's moral absolutes brings about economic prosperity. The two cannot be separated.

He reminds us of how in biblical history when God's people dismissed God's laws and principles, there was disastrous consequences administered from the Assyrians, Babylonia and Persia.

Eclectic Christianity doesn't work. Neither does eclectic conservatism.

The skeptic would ask, what about China and Russia? They are prospering while they take a strong position against God and His principles?

Youssef says, "The answer is the same as to why God judged His people more strictly than the pagan empires of that time---His people should have known better."

To whom much is given, much is required.

In our moral malaise, we are attempting to redefine God's absolute moral laws regarding human sexuality and the sanctity of life, while ignoring the most basic fundamental economic principles---you can't continue forever spending more than you take in.

We too, should know better.

Actions have consequences. Sometimes the consequences are not immediate, but they are always certain.

Be Informed. Be Concerned. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful. Be Faithful. Be Pro-Active. Be Blessed.


  1. Absolutely. You are right on all you said. I love to hear truth spoken so clearly.

  2. If the atheists are qualified to define what it means to be conservative, are Christians qualified to define what it means to be an atheist?

    Just think - how much of this could have been avoided if the Conservative Political Action Conference had actually thought and perhaps asked prior to issuing the invitation in the first place?

  3. I'm gonna have to disagree here. Christianity and political conservatism are not synonymous. We run some pretty serious risks when we treat them as such.

  4. Joel. I don't see anyone suggesting conservatism and Christianity is "synonymous." The point I see Gary making is that how can someone divide the tenents of conservatism which are based in biblical principle and still call them selves a conservative? When freedom in America is understood by conservatives as a gifgt from God to be protected by the government, how can an atheist be a conservative?

  5. Depends on how you define conservative. If your definition is the new rabid, take no prisoners, no RINO's allowed teabilly faction, then the answer is definitely no.

  6. Well said. I may have been a Goldwater conservative, but now probably just a Libertarian reactionary conservationist who doesn't like change, nor deficit spending. Originally a fundamental Christian, I seldom find candidates worth supporting; resent the seeming decline of presidential prestige and his apparent increase in power and current denigrating of Republican Christians. I expect stability, security, and justice from my elected governments (from intelligent voters); prefer a strong federal military; dislike current Feds monetary policy; and resent some attempts for change from anarchists or socialists alike. Maybe I just don't like anybody very much. A NC WA liberal RINO.

  7. Sounds to me like Atheists wanted Conservatives to become Atheists, not Atheists to become Conservatives.

  8. Morality and religion are two separate views. I have met atheists who have a better standard of Judeo Christian morality then most Christians .

    Of course with no rock to base your values , they will be likely to change with cultural influence . Hence the problem we face today .

  9. I wonder if being conservative is some how a little bit too close to having some confidence in God.


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