Throughout history, faith and political conservatism have intertwined. Ideologically, conservatism serves as a beacon of traditional values, advocating for prudence, fiscal responsibility, and the preservation of cultural heritage. Yet what we are witnessing today in the landscape of political conservatism should cause alarm for those who put their faith in Christ. We are witnessing a perilous divorce between conservatism and its spiritual moorings.
As we contemplate this severance, it is imperative to remember the essence of genuine conservatism and reevaluate the potential consequences of forsaking its spiritual roots.
The origins of conservatism find fertile ground in the rich tapestry of religious thought. Drawing inspiration from diverse theological principles, conservatism infused its values with the essence of compassion, humility, and empathy. From Edmund Burke’s reflections on the preservation of tradition to Russell Kirk’s reverence for the “permanent things,” it is evident that faith has played an instrumental role in the development of conservative political philosophy.
Today, however, the landscape of American politics and international politics alike is marked by an unsettling trend towards a Christ-less conservatism, where faith has been relegated to the periphery of political discourse. In this alarming shift, self-proclaimed conservatives parade their ideological banners devoid of genuine spiritual grounding, choosing to overlook the sacred teachings that once illuminated their paths. The dangers inherent in this trajectory cannot be underestimated, for to sever the ties between faith and conservatism is to lose the very essence of authenticity. Ridding conservatism of the “permanent things”—i.e., morality, liberty, family— leaves conservatism devoid of its value. It becomes an empty shell.
Our political beliefs are not inherently right simply because they were championed by the deepest thinkers, taught by the greatest scholars, or proven by the historical results of such policy. No, our political beliefs are only correct when based on the fundamental truths which cannot be changed. Of course, these fundamental truths are those of Scripture, the very Word of God.
At its core, conservatism cherishes the sanctity of human dignity and the inherent value of every individual. It acknowledges the flawed nature of humanity and calls for restraint and temperance in governance. In neglecting these Biblical truths, Christ-less conservatism becomes susceptible to devolving into a mere shell, sacrificing its compassion and inclusivity on the altar of cold pragmatism.
Furthermore, we already see that divorcing conservatism from its spiritual heritage has begun to breed an atmosphere of dogmatism—one that replaces reasoned discourse and genuine faith with a rigid adherence to ideology, political party, or elected leader. When true religion is cast to the wayside, that void is filled by another. In this case, Christ-less conservatism is creating a new, false religion of its own.
The importance of acknowledging the historical interplay between faith and conservatism cannot be overstated. Countless transformative leaders, driven by their spiritual convictions, have sought to usher in societal change. William Wilberforce’s relentless fight against slavery, Martin Luther King Jr.’s tireless pursuit of civil rights, and Mother Teresa’s unwavering commitment to the marginalized are all powerful testimonies to the strength of conservatism that is grounded in faith.
In recognizing the pitfalls of Christ-less conservatism, we must rekindle the conversation between faith and politics. This would not require the imposition of religious doctrines on a pluralistic society as a theocracy, but rather a sincere acknowledgement of the values that have shaped conservatism’s core. It calls for leaders to lead not just with political acumen but with a genuine understanding of a Biblical worldview which can serve as their moral compass.
To reestablish this symbiotic relationship between conservatism and its spiritual roots is to chart a course towards a more authentic and compassionate governance. We ought to embrace a conservatism that reflects the breadth and depth of our shared human experience, drawing wisdom from both sacred and secular sources to craft solutions that transcend mere political expediency, just as the Founding Fathers did in the early days of the colonies.
As we grapple with the complexities of our times, let us heed the warning signs of Christ-less conservatism and reawaken the church and our moral leaders to embrace the fundamental truths of God’s Word, his design for humanity, and the realities of our fallen world. The challenges before us demand not just the rigor of reason but the illumination of our spiritual heritage to guide us towards a more just and flourishing society.
 The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk: https://kirkcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/API-Research-Kirk-The-Conservative-Mind.pdf
Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke: https://www.supersummary.com/reflections-on-the-revolution-in-france/summary/