Opinion

A closer walk with the godless right

Christians. Jews. All faithful of the right. I’d like to continue to extend my hand in brotherhood. We made our November 2010 pilgrimage together. We can do it again in 2012. I am an atheist. Yes, we may quibble about certain things, but we have much in common. Our patriotism binds us.

That patriotism is neither jingoism nor worship of blood and soil. It is a veneration for those sacred institutions the founding documents set out. So as we walk, hand in hand, to do what must be done, let’s look away from those who say we shouldn’t make this walk together. We need each other. Suffrage is the only game in town short of revolution.


A truce?

Mitch Daniels is right about a truce. Well, sort of:

[T]he next president, whoever he is, “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” until the economic issues are resolved.

The truce he should be talking about first is the one that will get a fiscal conservative elected president. If we fight the culture wars all over again, Team Obama will divide and conquer us.

So, on your side, we’ll ignore the would-be theocrats, nativists and anyone else who might be ignorant about what’s written in the First Amendment. On my side, we’ll ignore all those smug, beltway intellectuals who exude disdain for patriotism and even the most reflective faithful.

You, with your Buckley and your Burke — I, with my Hayek and my Hume — let us lock arms for the sake of an American Renaissance. That City on the Hill can still be built. It’s just going to take some time.

Who is the godless right?

Before we take this walk together, you might be wondering just who we are.

Believe it or not, there is a rich tradition of the godless right. Some in that tradition might be considered agnostics (close enough). Some might be considered more libertarian than right wing (also close enough.) The tradition goes back hundreds of years — probably starting with Hobbes who was, at least, a “materialist.” Today the tradition has been passed on to public lights as various as P. J. O’Rourke and Steven Pinker. But we can claim some interesting characters from the past, too.

You may know:

  • John Stuart Mill
  • Milton Friedman (agnostic)
  • Friedrich Hayek (agnostic)
  • Adam Smith
  • David Hume
  • Adam Ferguson
  • The Marquis de Condorcet
  • Herbert Spencer
  • T. H. Huxley (agnostic)
  • H. L. Mencken (agnostic)
  • Ludwig von Mises (agnostic)

Some other rather important figures have debatable religious commitments, so we may have equal claims to them:

  • Thomas Jefferson, founding father and deist, sliced up his Bible with a razor to remove passages he considered unenlightened.
  • Benjamin Franklin, founding father, may have been an agnostic before the term was coined, but is known for saying “lighthouses are more useful than churches.”
  • James Madison, founding father, in a letter to William Bradford wrote: “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.”

These men were products of the Enlightenment. And though they may have left the fold, they took great pains to preserve religious freedoms in their new republic, for you and me. So using labels in an effort to lay claim to them is perhaps unwise.