August 5, 2023


God & Freedom Conservatism (Mark Tooley, August 4, 2023, Providence)

The newly launched Freedom Conservatism Declaration, which I signed, extols liberty, the pursuit of happiness, free markets, fiscal sustainability, laws over men, orderly immigration, deference to families and communities, racial equality, a foreign policy premised on national interest with liberty, and freedom of conscience. 

God and religion are not explicitly mentioned. But the statement implicitly assumes a largely biblical perspective about human dignity, the limits of government, private property, equality before the law, the primacy of conscience, protection for families, and statecraft premised on providential realism.

Before signing it, I briefly paused, wondering about the lack of specific mention of God. As a Protestant Christian, should I expect that any declaration of political principles must cite Him? 

The declaration models itself on William Buckley's 1960 Sharon Statement, which cited "transcendent values" realized in "the individual's use of his God-given free will."  Although not citing God, the newer declaration's principles are clearly the legacy of a Christian or at least biblical anthropology. Its signers are from diverse religious backgrounds. That they could affirm these principles, even if not specifying the source, seems a worthy initiative. "Whoever is not against us is for us," as the scriptures say.

Principles about democracy, limited government, private property, and free enterprise, with free speech and conscience rights, including religious freedom, largely originated in Christian-influenced and Hebraic cultures. But they have been universalized. Many of these principles are in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified by the United Nations in 1948, and whose 75th anniversary is this year. People around the world of different faiths and no faith affirm these principles, without specifically acknowledging the spiritual source. We can rightly give thanks for the wide affirmation of these principles (amid highly uneven fidelity) without bewailing the absence of specific credit. "The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice," St. Paul remarked. 

It's why post-liberalism is anti-Christian.

Posted by at August 5, 2023 5:41 AM