Why Modern Conservatism Is Jihad In Disguise
Modern conservatism says that it defends limited government and religious freedom. But modern conservative principles can resemble a jihad more than it realizes.
Some of the philosophical ideas behind modern conservatism are similar in structure to the Muslim countries that practice Sharia Law (that being the strict interpretation of Islam… stoning adulterers, for example).
They produce very different fruit, but they construct the same type of government.
And I think most conservatives don’t realize where their worldview leads (I know I didn’t!).
And if they did, they would abandon it immediately.
What Is Conservatism?
The Heritage Foundation – a conservative think tank – believes that conservatism values the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.
It are those “traditional American values” that get us into trouble.
Conservatism believes that is in the best interest of our country to establish laws around traditional morals and values. This includes things like marriage, family, and faith. Most of the time, they are strictly Christian values.
Therefore, we have seen many states ban gay marriage. Some of them have even made constitutional amendments that keep it from ever becoming legal.
The federal government has outlawed most drug use.
And most states have outlawed prostitution and gambling.
Why? They violate our traditional values. They degrade the family. They are bad for you, and therefore the country.
But here’s the problem… if part of our definition of government is “protecting traditional values,” where do you draw the line? What morals from our faith do we codify into law? Should we also ban lying? Or cursing? Or gossip?
This exposes a very real problem in our country… Most people do not understand why our government exists.
Go ahead, write down your definition of government. Put it into one sentence. Why does our government exist? What is it’s purpose? What are its moral obligations and limits (this may require more than one sentence).
When you study the political ideas that influenced our founding fathers, it becomes clear that government can only have one purpose: to protect individual rights.
In fact, if it does more than that, then it becomes inherently tyrannical.
In order for government to go beyond those borders, it must adopt the same underlying philosophical principles as Sharia Law and Jihad.
The Reader’s Digest Version of 18th Century Political Philosophy
To understand why government exists, we must take a quick journey into political philosophy. I promise it is as truncated as I can make it. This will help us see how Conservatism and Sharia are similar:
- God (or nature) created every person
- Because of this, He alone has authority over our lives
- Thus, in relationship to each other, we are utterly equal.
Since I did not create you, I have no authority over your life
- That equality gives us certain rights in relationship to each other.
- You have the right to life (I cannot kill you).
- You have the right to live your life how you see fit (I cannot enslave you).
- You have the right to the fruit of your life and labor (I cannot steal from you).
- But not everyone accepts this equality. Some people believe they have the right to steal from you… rape you… or kill you.
- Therefore, for the sake of peace and tranquility, people give up some of their equality to establish the government as an objective third party to enforce these rights (the police, army, and justice system).
- Government only exists because we want it to make our inherent rights as individuals a reality.
I just condensed thousands of pages and centuries of philosophy into a few bullet points. So please excuse my gross oversimplifications.
But here is an important take away: Without government, our inherent rights as equal individuals are not real. Anyone could come along and violate us. They could be thieves, thugs, or an invading army. In theory we may have equal rights, but not in practice.
We (the people) therefore empower the government to establish and protect those rights. This way we can be truly free.
Even though we have to give up a little bit of our theoretical freedom, we gain an immeasurable amount of practical freedom.
That is it. That is the sole purpose of our government (and any government that wants to be ethical).
You can go back and read the founding fathers all you want. If you understand the philosophers that influenced them, you will see that this what they were trying to do.
They disagreed a lot. But not on these principles. They fought on how they should implement these principles.
Conservatism and Jihad:
Two Brothers of The Same Mother
Here’s the real kicker for us today as conservative Christians… this doesn’t allow us to push our morality on ANYONE.
It doesn’t matter if they want to have a same-sex marriage, marry a rock, or if one woman wants to have 5 husbands simultaneously. As long as all parties are consenting, then the government CAN’T GET INVOLVED.
The only time the government should interfere is when someone’s rights are violated. Murder. Rape. Theft. Assault. These are things the government must stop, but not because they violate “traditional values.” Because they violate a person’s innate rights as a human being and child of God.
Until God says that we can order the lives of His children, we must play by these rules. Otherwise we become tyrants.
How does this make conservatism like Sharia Law?
When we decide that our government can fashion laws based on our morality, we are no different than Jihadists.
We are saying that our faith allows us to dictate the lives of others. And if they choose to disobey, we should punish them in order to bring them into line.
We may not be stoning people, but that is a difference in application, not the baseline political philosophy between our countries.
There are no safe guards in this form of government. As long as a majority of people believe something is right (or “traditional”), it can become legal. Anything.
This is not what our founders meant.
This is not what a moral government looks like.
And this is not what our faith demands.
In order to protect “traditional values” through social policy, we must adopt a philosophy that says we have the right to dictate the lives of others.
This is how modern conservatism is jihad in disguise.
Both systems believe they know best.
Both systems believe they are doing God’s work.
And both systems believe they have the right to force their morality onto those around them.
We may fear for our society if we don’t protect traditional values through law.
But I fear for it if we do.
Don’t be a Jihadist. Be a Libertarian.
About Sean Edwards
Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.