Atheists and conservatism

It has been something of a mantra at VFR that one can be an atheist and be a conservative, but that one cannot despise religion and think religious believers are mentally defective and be a conservative. That thought came directly from the following passage by William Buckley:

Can you be a conservative and believe in God? Obviously. Can you be a conservative and not believe in God? This is an empirical essay, and so the answer is, as obviously, yes. Can you be a conservative and despise God and feel contempt for those who believe in Him? I would say no…. If one dismisses religion as intellectually contemptible, it becomes difficult to identity oneself wholly with a movement in which religion plays a vital role….

The reason why Christian conservatives can associate with atheists is because we hold that, above all, faith is a gift and that, therefore, there is no accounting for the bad fortune that has beset those who do not believe or the good fortune that has befallen those who do. The pro-religious conservative can therefore welcome the atheist as a full-fledged member of the conservative community even while feeling that at the very bottom the roots do not interlace, so that the sustenance which gives a special bloom to Christian conservatism fails to reach the purely secularist conservatism.

William F. Buckley, American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century, Introduction, pp. xxix-xxxi (Bobbs-Merrill, New York, 1970).

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 29, 2009 10:43 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):