How to Solve the Problem of Religious Conservatives

by | Nov 9, 2014 | Religion

The assertion of individual rights would solve all disputes between social conservatives and their opponents.

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a religious and social conservative, is threatening to leave the GOP if they don’t take a strong stand on gay marriage and other social issues.

“They’re hostile to religious liberty and a lot of our traditions and the Republican Party and conservative voters are really the only force against that,” U.S. Rep. DeSantis, a Florida Republican, said. “You see this in instances in which the Health and Human Services Department is forcing Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, to be complicit in abortifacients and other things that really go against core values of religious freedom.

“So, I understand where he’s coming from,” said DeSantis, who was joined on “America’s Forum” by The Shark Tank blog editor Javier Manjarres. “There’s a whole bunch of issues in which the left is hostile to where the governor [Huckabee] is going to be coming from. And you’ve got to have a strong opposition party to be able to stand up for those values.” [ 10-12-14]

Actually, “religious liberty” is not the issue here. Individual liberty — that is to say, liberty — is.

When the federal government mandates that private individuals who don’t believe in abortion or anything else are forced to pay for it, it’s unquestionably a form of tyranny. But “religious liberty” is not the solution. The implementation of private property and individual rights is the solution.

In a sense, we already have a version of religious liberty in the form of Obama’s policies. Obama’s religion is the belief that we all are each other’s keepers, and that we all belong to each other. Obama and his supporters maintain that while private property rights are acceptable — to a point — that we must be required by the government to share and redistribute wealth (and rights) as the government sees fit. By what right does the government do this? By Obama’s own definition of morality.

Sure, Obama disagrees with the religious right on key issues — gay marriage, abortion — when it comes to defining morality. But you don’t achieve justice by outlawing one form of religious morality — Obama’s secular spread-the-wealth kind — and then replacing it with the God-driven, marriage-can-only-be-a-man-and-a-woman kind. None of these things are government’s to subsidize, impose or restrict. If it’s a traditional approach you seek, by the standards of the original American Constitution, then you should be fighting for government staying the hell out of the way, of everything other than violent criminals or thieves.

Religious conservatives who object to being forced to provide money, or participate in activities against their will, have a legitimate grievance — from the perspective of individual liberty, the fundamental right to be left alone and to be free of all government coercion.

The assertion of individual rights would solve all disputes between social conservatives and their opponents. Social conservatives would not be forced to pay for government programs (including schools) against their will. Nor would anyone else. This is because private property rights and individual rights — not “religious rights” — would carry the day over Obama’s form of religion requiring that everyone do his bidding.

It’s amazing to me how each side — the social conservative side and the leftist Obama side — frame their own agenda as a form of “rights.” Nobody has a right to force his view on anyone else. Requiring people to pay for your health programs, your religious programs or anything else are all a form of tyranny, in principle.

As for gay marriage, this issue can also be settled by individual rights. People have a right to form voluntary contracts with one another and call those contracts whatever they wish. The purpose of government is not to define marriage, but simply to uphold contracts. Religious conservatives have no individual “right” to “raise my children in a society where there is no such thing as gay marriage,” which is how some of them seem to view the issue. They do have a right to tell their children what they think of gay marriage, and anything else. They have a right not to pay for schools which teach things (about gay marriage, or anything else) with which they don’t agree. Religious conservatives, like anyone else, have the right to be left alone, and not to be forced to do anything in the name of Obama’s sense of morality, nor anyone else’s. But the right to be left alone is all that any of us has; nothing more, and nothing less.

Obama and other supporters of leftism are, in their own way, seeking to impose a religion on individuals against their will. Religious conservatives are right to object. But they will get nowhere — and should get nowhere — by demanding the same thing in return. They should limit their fight to the right for private property and individual liberty. They should demand nothing more, and they should respect the same right for those who are not socially conservative nor even religious at all.

The purpose of government isn’t to make people emotionally comfortable. Nowadays, nearly every political pressure group (right and left) seeks a political right to feel comfortable. Social conservatives want government to articulate their views, and possibly even pay for them (e.g., in the form of faith-based programs in government welfare and public schools, as George W. Bush attempted to implement.) Leftist liberals seek to use government to calm their consciences, and act as a gigantic Mother Teresa on the government dime (or trillion). None of this is what government is supposed to be about; and none of it represents the traditional or founding concept of the United States, of all places.

The purpose of government — a very important one — is simply to protect rights. The government cannot and should not attempt to resolve issues such as ethics, sexual morality or anything else of that nature. The government exists simply to uphold private property rights and restrain people from imposing force on one another.

Republican or Democrat or Independent, in the United States there is no major political movement, right now, offering anything close to this point of view. I am constantly looking and listening for it, and I’m not finding it anywhere, not yet.

We’re developing into a bunch of splinter parties or movements who only seem interested in claiming victimhood and using government to impose our own point of view on others. At present, Republicans are more split than Democrats. Republicans are split among those who lean towards liberty and property rights; along with those who only seek to be tax collectors for the welfare-entitlement-regulatory state; and those who care more about abortion and gay marriage than anything else. Democrats, in contrast, have set aside their differences in support of one thing: Using government force to impose their will, and doing so gleefully. Their consistency, not their adherence to justice or reality, is why they’re presently winning.

Where are the defenders of the principles that make a government legitimate in the first place? They’re clearly not in the Democratic or Republican party. At least, not yet.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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