Friday, January 23, 2009


A Big Conservative Tent?

Litmus tests appear to be continuing

Many decry so-called social “litmus tests” for citizens to be included in the conservative movement. So do I. If you sign up to the core principles of conservatism, and support conservative politicians, that is all anyone should require.

The two litmus tests -–anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage---however, are derived from religious tenets stated in or derived from the Bible, which many Christians sign up to and include in their conservatism. They do tend to resent non-believers or those who choose to ignore the tenets of the church or the Bible, despite their other tenets of good will to all men and the Golden Rule.

Obviously, for the 2% to 10% of the population that do not believe in Christ or a God, such tenets are onerous and wrong-headed, and it sets them apart from their religious Christian brethren, sometimes very vocally and nastily. So we have a fundamental religious belief based conflict that is rather difficult for some to pass over simply for the sake of the conservative movement.

When the federal government steps in and passes laws that enforce tenets that are diametrically opposed to the religious tenets of many Christians (RvW, for instance), some Christians see that as blasphemy and a direct challenge to their belief system. Litmus testing is one result; you are either with them, or against them, and they will not compromise their religious beliefs. Hence, we find that provisions in many states have been passed by large majorities that codify into law anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage statutes. Thus we have a state versus federal law conflict as well, where the federal position does not seem to be at all reflective of the majority will.

Conservatives must find the right answers to such conflicts, and others of similar gravity, if inclusiveness is to be achieved for the movement. If this was easy to solve, it would have been done long ago.

Perhaps we need to redefine what inclusiveness really means. What exactly are the minimum tenets of conservatism one must believe in to be accorded full status? What tenets of religion must you give up or sublimate in order to be inclusive? What kind of movement or party is it that in effect coerces its members to give up or sublimate some of their closely held religious beliefs in order to grow the membership? How do you secularize the current conservative movement? Is that a wise thing to try?

I am not encouraged that the conservative movement can resolve these conflicts in the few years before further elections take place.

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