A must read: a Libertarian defends social conservatives

This is one of the more interesting articles I have read in a while: a Libertarian agnostic makes the case that social conservatives and the “religious right” promote more liberty than social liberals. Here’s the money paragraph:

The most obvious point to me is that it is the do-gooding liberals who are telling us all what we can and can’t do. The religious right usually just wants to be left alone, either to home school, pray in public or not get their children vaccinated with who-knows-what. Inasmuch as the “religious right” wants some things outlawed, they have failed miserably for at least the last 50 years. Abortion, sodomy, and pornography are now all Constitutional rights. However, praying in public school is outlawed, based on that same Constitution.

I don’t completely agree with this writer’s take. It was primarily the “religious right” that has basically decreed that a Mormon cannot be president. Still, I think he makes some interesting points, and I found his perspective refreshing.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

16 thoughts on “A must read: a Libertarian defends social conservatives

  1. I think that there is some truth to that but a lot of error as well.

    For one while Roe v. Wade is still there it seems clear that on many issues social conservatives have put up some limits. (i.e. live birth abortions) In many states there are other restrictions although in more liberal states things are unsurprisingly less regulated. (i.e. no parental notification over abortion)

    While gay marriage is law in many places in many more states it is explicitly stopped and there are some federal laws as well. (Defense of marriage act)

    I think there are reasonable restrictions on pornography and that social conservatives have been much more successful there on many levels than they are given credit. The big change is that the nature of the media changed. There isn’t a battle for the soul of 7-11 anymore.

    While I think it was wrong, the fact is that for 8 years social conservatives had stem cell research banned and had absinence only sex ed pushed.

  2. I agree with Clark. It isn’t an issue of promotion, it’s an issue of success. Both sides have been actively at work on their social agendas, and each has seen their own successes and failures.

    Thanks for sharing the article, Geoff.

  3. Growing up in the Bible belt, my wife was not allowed to join her high school Bible club because she is a Mormon. She was not permitted to participate in the school prayers that took place.

    I know this has become one of my pet arguments but I’ll say it again. The Religious Right does not want religious tolerance – it wants a Christian theocracy. This does not include Latter-day Saints – never will.

    Regardless of how you feel about the SSM issue, if the Religious Right looked more like the Prop 8 coalition (a variety of religious, economic and ethnic backgrounds) then we’d be on to something. As it is now, I want no part of the white evangelical xenophobes.

  4. C J, I agree and have made that same point when school prayer comes up in wards here in Utah. (Having lived in the south I’m more than aware of these issues)

    I do think we need strong Church/State separation although I think removing religion from the public square is not Church/State separation but simple extremism.

  5. Personally, I’ve lived in the South among Bible Belt types. And I’ve lived in a California hippie community without any exposure to religion. All in all, I’d prefer the Bible Belt types.

    CJ, to understand the point of this article you need to look at ALL of the ways that different government philosophies affect your daily life. How much of your income do you pay in taxes, and where do those taxes go? How many restrictions do local and state governments put on where you can live, how you can live, what you can do with your property once you buy it? And then you need to look at the different government initiatives and priorities pushed by the respective institutions.

    In the hippie community where I grew up, the town instituted a complete “no growth” policy in the 1970s. They had about 500 homes and they decided that was enough. No new homes have been approved in more than 35 years, despite the area being surrounded by thousands of acres of open land. So, if you happen to own 10 acres of land in that area, you are completely out of luck — you can’t sell you land now for the value it had before the moratorium. There is a town council that analyzes and approves every little change in every home and every business. You want to repaint your garage? Have to have the town council approve it.

    Don’t even get me started on the mandatory recycling programs, the mandatory “local gas tax so people will stop driving SUVs,” the mandatory “no trans fats in any local foods,” the mandatory “all food in the town must be organic” and on and on and on. And of course state and local taxes are twice what they are anyplace else I have lived.

    My point is that these people may not be bashing you with a Bible but they are interfering with your freedom in ways that will drive you crazy.

    I have mentioned this in several comments, but the Bible Belt types I knew were all extremely tolerant of Mormons. I know that is not necessarily the norm, but it was my experience.

    I think you need to be very careful about the “Christian theocracy” claim. In James Dobson’s perfect world, how exactly would your freedom be curtailed? I have known a lot of Christian evangelicals, and I have yet to meet one who would say, “in a perfect world there would be no Mormons.” Instead, they would try to evangelize you, but so what, we try to evangelize them. There would be no gay marriage. Hmm, 48 states out of 50 today. There would be serious restrictions on abortion — well, go to another state or to Canada or Mexico. No porn? Sounds good to me. Baptist prayers in school or at football games? I could care less — it doesn’t affect me to hear a Baptist prayer.

    I think a lot of people who express concern about how horrible the religious right is have not actually sat down and thought about comparing a secular paradise to a “religious right” paradise. All in all, I’d easily take the religious right paradise if forced to choose.

  6. I was born and bred in the heart of the Bible Belt. There was some misunderstanding, but for the most part people were pretty tolerant. Yes, different congregations maligned our faith, and yes there was hate. But that hate pretty much stayed with the leaders and a few die-hards. The people listening to those messages in the pews, for the most part, blew it off. I didn’t feel particularly “persecuted” per se. Nor did I feel hated.

    I should note though, that as a Mormon conservative living in downtown SLC, I do feel hated- by both our liberal community and the counterculture.

    I’m with Geoff- I’ll take my Bible Belt brothers over godless hippies any day.

  7. “I’ll take my Bible Belt brothers over godless hippies any day.”

    I have always thought this was a major divide between political conservative Mormons and political liberal Mormons. I would choose a secular philosopher or a hippie anyday over a religious righter. To each their own.

  8. I suppose it all depends on who you feel less threatened by.

    I see the “threat” evangelicals pose- or more correctly- the perceived hostility of evangelicals toward LDS as largely inordinate. It’s preached mostly by liberal LDS who’s experience with evangelicals is extremely limited.

    On the other hand, as a Poli Sci graduate of a liberal university, as a former Lefty, and as somebody living and working in the heart of Utah’s liberal/libertarian counter-culture, I probably have more experience with the secular hippie types than most liberal LDS has with the Religious right.

    I think if more liberal LDS came down from The Avenues and away from both coasts, the Religious Right might seem like less of a boogey man.

  9. Well, the “hateful” members of the religious right have launched a petition thanking the Church for its efforts on Prop. 8 and condemning the recent attacks against the Church. Will the hate from the religious right never stop?


  10. It was a decent article. Libertarians don’t really get it. They want freedom but freedom is a value that is based in culture and they don’t want the culture (often because culture is based on religious faith.)

  11. CJ: I was in grade school in the 1960’s back when they had school prayers. I was from an agnostic family, though we called ourselves “Jewish” because dad was from a Jewish family.

    The worst that I can accuse the “religious right” of is being undiplomatic, and purposely ignorant of the details of other religions.

    I’m siding with Geoff B on this issue. I’d rather associate with the hand-waving hallelujah-shouting evangelicals.

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