The Myth of the Conservative Christian

This is a reprint of a previous article I wrote in 2007.

I post it again today as a curio of things past. Few, if any, of these categories seem any longer to obtain.

We have seen a remarkable re-alignment of political orientations in the past half-decade: the Populism of Trump is now opposed by the Authoritarianism of the Left. The old liberal worldview, which favored colorblindness and free speech, is as dead as journalism.

I offer this merely to throw open a question to my readers: what are the wings of the two parties today? 

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There are six political parties in America, not two.

These six align themselves into the two major political parties for convenience, but the grouping is not harmonious or even.

The elite of the Left are the Dissolute. They are idealists, concerned with ideas rather than pragmatics. These are media moguls, academicians, ACLU lawyers, and intellectuals primarily concerned with abolishing the norms of decency from society, or, rather, to alter the norms to bring them in line with a nonjudgmental, all-welcoming, but ultimately nihilist political correctness. They favor abortion and homosexual marriage. Libertarians are found here.

The elite of the Right are the Capitalists. Rightwing intellectuals and businessmen seek minimum government and free trade. Their primary concern is economics. They also tend to favor what is properly called the liberal institutions of rule of law, the constitution, the freedoms in the Bill of Rights. They are somewhat internationalist in flavor. Libertarians are found here also.

The yeomen of the Left are the Dependents. These include teacher’s unions and bureaucrats, farmers, trial lawyers and race hustlers, and everyone who depends on handouts from the public till, or pay-offs from class-action suits. They favor expansions of the federal government to fund their various programs, and class actions suits to force guns and cigarettes into oblivion. They are pragmatists, concerned with questions of Right Conduct, which they regard as synonymous with charity and order (which they equate with handgun disarmament and race quotas). Authoritarians are found here of the Welfare-State kind.

The yeomen of the Right are the Militarists. They favor a strong military and an aggressive foreign policy. They are anticommunist and patriotic. They do not share the internationalist feelings of the Capitalists. They are pragmatists, concerned with questions of Right Conduct, which they regard as synonymous with honor and order. Authoritarians are found here of the Law-and-Order kind.

The base of the Left are the Workingmen. These include many constituencies, such as southern Black Baptists, who do not share the social values of the Social Libertines, but they do share a suspicion of the Capitalists, in whom they see a mutual enemy. Their primary concern is economics: they want the government to regulate the market and protect the workingman. These are common Joes.

The base of the Right are the Social Conservatives, the Chaste, who want to protect their families from the rising tide of filth and moral decay in which our current society is drowning. These are idealists, concerned with ideas rather than pragmatics. They want to see perversion shamed rather than lauded.

The Social Conservatives have more in common with the Workers than they do with the Capitalists, whom they also mistrust as driving the morals of society into Philistinism, but the presence of the Marxist and socialist element in the Left elite drives the Conservatives to the Right. They want the government to regulate the speech and protect the manners of society. They regard abortion as child-murder. These are common Joes.

This model of “six factions in two parties” has one advantage in predicting the outcome of political contests: as a rule of thumb, if there is an issue or candidate that energizes all three factions in one party, but not all three factions in the other party, that party will prevail in a political contest.

Under this model, the reason why, for example, gay marriage has not prevailed (except via court action), even in Leftwing California, is that it is an issue that concerns only the elite of the Left, not their yeomanry, and not their base. The reason why, for example, NRA-type gun-rights issues have not prevailed (except via court action) is that this issue only concerns the yeomanry on the Right, and not their elite nor their base.

When it comes to abortion, the Elite on the Left support it because killing unborn babies offends normal morality; the yeomanry on the Left support it, because they see abortion as a step in favor of equality for women; the base supports it because Workers can rarely afford large families, and killing children, especially black children is a pragmatic cost saving measure.

On the other hand, of the Right, only the base, the Social Conservatives, are motivated by this issue. It has no bearing on the concerns of the small-government Rightwing Libertarians, nor on the strong-military Rightwing yeomanry.

So why do I call the ‘Christian Right’ a myth?

The main opposition in the media, the marketplace of ideas, is between the two idealist factions: the Social Conservatives and the Libertines, between the Chaste and the Dissolute.

This leads to an exaggeration, a false perception that the Right is predominantly Christian, and the Left predominantly secular, whereas, in truth, Christians are not any more active now than ever before in politics: look at the way politics was conducted in the 60’s and 50’s; look at the Temperance movement, or the Abolitionist movement.

All that is happening now is that the antinomian Dissolute, the Left Elite, the loudest of the three factions of the Left, has openly and publicly declared themselves to be anti-Christian, and find increasing resistance to their views from all quarters as the horrific results of a quarter century of experimentation with unchastity and family-unfriendly social mores are coming home to roost.

Nearly every politician salutes the flag, kisses a baby, and goes to church on Sunday, but only politicians on the Right are accused of basing their agenda on their church. Are not Kerry and Clinton God-fearing followers of Christ? Was not Kennedy a member of the same Catholic Church as G. Gordon Liddy?

The Church has not moved. She still condemns pornography, divorce, homosexuality, contraception, and abortion. She also opposes war and supports the poor. The Left Elite in American moved away from the Church teachings on chastity and decency, and now finds itself in opposition to her. The Right is just as far away from the Church on questions of just war and proper use of wealth, but no one emphasizes the breach there, because the Right has not come out openly against Christ. Even when the Pope himself denounced the War in Iraq, no newspaper spoke of the “Christian Left” or the “Christian Anti-war movement.”

There is no such thing as the Christian Right, unless you consider people like me to be of that camp, men of the Right who also happen to be Christians. It is an invention of the popular media (who are Elitists of the Left), because it feeds the popular vanity that Rightwingers are ignorant bumpkins from the Cow States. There are many secularists who regard modern nihilism in the areas of art, culture, and sexual self-control to be repugnant (Ayn Rand and John Derbyshire come to mind). But the press does not label their political belief as being triggered by Biblical teachings, because there is no rhetorical advantage to do so.

There is, of course the figure of Pat Robertson, who used the pulpit and the airwaves to urge Christians to take a greater interest in political affairs. He stands out because there is no obviously opposite number to him on the Left, unless we elevate the Reverend Jesse Jackson to that position. However, one man is not a movement.

There are of course many Rightwing intellectuals with far more impressive academic credentials and intellectual accomplishments than the vast majority of Workers and Dependents on the Left. Considering the fraudulent nature of academic accomplishment among the Left Elite, and their general intellectual vacuity, it is something of a surprise that they continue to maintain the myth that the Rightwing are primarily Christian and that faith in Christ is primarily a product of ignorance and provincialism (rather than a product of study and insight). This myth is an article of faith with them, and it is maintained no matter what the evidence to the contrary might be.

Just in my (admittedly limited) personal experience, I have debated with men of modest education who did not know the difference between a blastula and a foetus, did not know the difference between a species and a stage of development, who had never read Darwin (never heard of Wallace), never read Einstein or Freud, spoke no Latin nor Greek, never read for the Law, never read the Constitution much less the Federalist Papers, did not recognize famous names like Copernicus, Kepler, Descartes, Pascal (to say nothing of less famous but still significant names like Tycho Brahe, Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Dedekind, Riemann, Lobachevsky, Wittgenstein or Karl Popper), did not know the difference between categorical and hypothetical syllogism— but at the end of the conversation dismissed my position as being merely the product of my ignorance. Their reasoning was simple! Leftists are smart; Rightists are ignorant; I was a Rightist, ergo I was ignorant. The syllogism possesses elegance hard not to admire.

Christianity, in the minds of the Dissolute Elite of the Left, has become synonymous with obscurantism, irrationalism, and hatred of such allegedly scientific principles as eugenics, abortion, and socialism.

This identification is so strong that vast swaths of history have to be blanked out of their awareness, such as the link between European culture and European scientific advancement, or the role of the Church in preserving ancient knowledge after the fall of Rome, or spreading law and learning among the Norse and Germanic peoples, or the clerical origins of the University. The entire Eastern Roman Empire and her civilization of North Africa and the Near East has to be consigned to the memory hole in order to make room for the conceit that the Mohammedans (of all unlikely candidates for this role) preserved the ancient so called scientific knowledge of the Greeks during the Dark Ages. The entire relationship between Christendom and science is summed and settled with the trial of Galileo.

In short, the Left dares not speak of the Christian Left even when Christian principles and nothing else motivates a Leftwing policy or candidate lest the inconvenient fact disturb this identification of Christianity with obscurantism. I have never heard the faith of the Reverend Martin Luther King mocked by the Left.

In reality, there is no correlation. Only one of the three factions of the Left (the Dissolute) is openly anti-Christian, and only one of the three factions of the Right (the Chaste) is openly pro-Christian. But these are the loudest spokesmen for both sides, since they are concerned with ideals rather than pragmatics.

Indeed, since Christianity is at its roots revolutionary and rebellious, forever siding with the small and meek against the great and mighty, one would think a natural commonality of interests would provoke close alliance between Leftist revolutionaries and Christian mystics. But no: Marxism in the future will be recognized as merely one more Christian heresy, along the lines of the Florian Heresy (see endnote), or Millennialism or Gnosticism, and the enmity of heretics for the orthodox faith from which they steal their ideas outweighs the similarities and harmonies. Even those factions of the Left not directly inspired by Marx accept many of his ideas and methods of analysis, and his enmity toward the mainstream religion is carried over.

Again, just speaking from my limited personal experience, I notice that all (save one) of my friends who are liberals are go to Church—and he is an anti-Welfare-State type Leftist. All (save two) of my friends who are Rightwing war hawks are secular atheists.

There are rightwingers who are Christian: I am one. There are social conservatives who are vocally Christian: I am one. But there is no ‘Christian Right’ if by that we mean that the Christians either do not exist among the Left or that Christianity does not represent the mainstream of American Leftwing motives and interests.

Christ is not a Republican. He is Lord.

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Endnote: Joachim of Flora preached that in the Final Millennium, “Eternal Gospel” would be revealed to fulfill and replacing the organized Church. An egalitarian and monastic utopia would replace civilization, without any organized authority. It preached the future to be perfectible through human action.