You Don’t Have to Be Religious to Be Socially Conservative


In July, Tiffany Stanley published an article in the National Journal entitled “The Culture Warrior in Winter.” This article details the “end of the old Religious Right” and the “rise of new evangelical conservatives” by largely discussing the rise and fall of Richard Land, the prominent leader of the Religious Right and formerly the head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition, this article details how religious social conservatives have shifted their focus to religious liberty, away from “family values,” which the author discusses in an austere, distasteful manner.

This article, like many mainstream media articles, makes the mistake of only classifying socially conservative issues in the context of evangelicals and the “Religious Right.” By resorting to this classification, the media has painted the debate as if it is only a battle between religious conservatives and atheist Leftists. By painting this narrative, the media helps set our side up for defeat, as, consequentially, non-religious people who might be drawn to our values get turned off by socially conservative causes.

Sure, many people who lead and champion socially conservative causes are often Christian. Sure, religion is one of the reasons why the natural family unit and the sanctity of life are known to be important in society. In fact, National Geographic Magazine published an article three years ago explaining how worship led to the development of civilization, further proving religion has led to the development of civil society. However, one does not have to be religious to understand why we should promote the preservation and protection of the natural family and the value of human life in our society, especially at the local level.

When it comes to discussing the institution of marriage and the natural family unit, we often witness a battle between non-religious, often militant and rude, “gay rights” activists and Christian conservatives, who strongly defend marriage between a man and a woman with theological arguments. Granted, there are abrasive people in the traditional marriage movement, but abrasiveness is more commonly found in the gay marriage movement. The media especially loves to harp on the tension that encompasses this battle. They view it as fodder that helps them further perpetuate the narrative that only Christian conservatives, mostly evangelicals, care about preserving marriage between a man and a woman. This is damaging in terms of public discourse, especially if we want to draw more people to the pro-marriage, pro-family cause.

You do not have to be religious to see why children do best when their mom and dad are married, and why championing that notion is one of the biggest social justice causes of our time. You also do not have to be religious to understand that marriage between a man and a woman is the best anti-poverty program and why the natural family unit is the best shield against encroaching, big government policies. Clearly, a strong trend of the stable, natural family unit, held intact by marriage, helps discourage the existence of the welfare state, because, when stable families are together, they often do not need to rely on government assistance to stay afloat. In fact, welfare programs can only be sustained if our society continues to suffer from a widespread trend of broken families. Shame on politicians who continue to advocate for these programs as opposed to advocating for the local resurgence of the intact family unit.

In addition, you do not have to be religious to be pro-life. We can clearly see that with the emergence of many pro-life causes that rely on non-theological, scientific arguments in defense of the unborn child. Clearly, science shows life begins at conception and a human being is developing in the womb during pregnancy. Thanks to science, it is no surprise the pro-abortion movement is losing steam in our society, as it squirms to try to attract young people to its cause and resorts to big government tactics (see H.R. 3471, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013) to try to roll back pro-life state laws and implement its anti-life, anti-woman agenda nationwide. That’s truly extreme.

Lastly, you do not have to be religious to care about religious liberty. You can wholeheartedly champion this liberty by relying on First Amendment arguments, with the understanding that religious liberty for all Americans must be protected if we want to remain a free society. Of all of the social issues conservatives champion, this issue seems to be the easiest for non-religious people to grasp, because arguments in favor of it are often logically presented by many people.

Moreover, there is another reason why many people, most namely non-religious people, are turned off by socially conservative causes. This stems from the reality that many socially conservative groups rely on theological arguments and do not realize their strategies only limit their impact to a religious audience. Sure, some of these groups only have the intention of encouraging Christian conservatives to remain engaged in the political process on social issues, and that effort is needed as well.

However, if some of these groups want to help achieve cultural change on a large scale, they must realize they can only achieve that goal if they use non-theological arguments instead. Many of these groups do not realize this change in strategy will bring in more people and encourage more people to advocate for socially conservative values in the public square. Unfortunately, if many of these groups do not improve their strategy, they will become irrelevant in our society and indirectly help the media further perpetuate a false narrative on social conservatism.

We do not have to wait on these groups to make these changes. We can start changing the narrative on social conservatism, making it more appealing to the American people, through the power of our own voices. We can especially turn to social media, blogging, videos, and other creative means to get our message out there to the general public. We can make big waves in the public square with rallies and local groups all across America.

It’s all possible. It all just has never been done before, but we can change that.

This blog post was originally published on: Counter Cultured’s “Politics”: column.: 

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