Political Conservatism and Religious Conservatism

By Art Gallagher

A couple of weeks back, in between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, presidential contender Rick Santorum was subject to claims that he wanted to outlaw birth control.

During an interview with FoxNews’s Brett Baier, Santorum explained that as a Catholic he believed that birth control is wrong, but that he would not support his religious belief regarding birth control becoming law.  With regard to birth control, Santorum is able to be both a political conservative and a religious conservative.  The position is politically conservative, consistent with the U.S. Constitution, religious freedom and personal liberty.  His choice to strictly follow the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church regarding sex and procreation is religiously conservative.

Political conservatism and religious conservatism are not the same thing. 

Actually, neither of them are “things.”  They are abstractions.  Philosophical constructs. Values.  They are not things.

Political conservatism and religious conservatism are not the same distinction.  Santorum demonstrated in his interview with Baier that, in the matter of birth control, he is both politically conservative and religiously conservative.

In a follow up Baier asked about marriage.  Regarding marriage, Santorum’s religious conservatism trumps his political conservatism, it seems to me.  The former Pennsylvania senator is able to think, to distinguish, between his political conservatism and religious conservatism, with regard to birth control, but homosexuality is too much of a sin for Santorum to distinguish between his religious convictions and the law of the land.

Why that is doesn’t really make sense to me. 

The Catholic Church teaches that practicing birth control is a mortal sin.  If a faithful heterosexual married couple bumps uglies with a barrier, physical or surgical, or with the use of a chemical, that prevents conception, they are going to hell if they die before they get to confession.  If they bump the uglies in the wrong holes, like homosexuals do, and die before confessing, off to Lucifer they go for eternity.   That’s OK with the politically conservative Santorum and many, many others.

If a faithful same sex couple bumps uglies in the wrong holes and die before going to confession, they are also going to hell, according to Catholic teaching.  But while their queer souls are here on earth, in the United States of America, Santorum and many other religious conservatives want them to have different political rights and responsibilities than the heterosexual couple.

I don’t get how that is politically conservative.   Why is same sex marriage different than birth control in the minds of Santorum and so many “conservatives?”

Can someone explain that to me?

Posted: January 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics, Marriage Equality, Same Sex Marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments »

57 Comments on “Political Conservatism and Religious Conservatism”

  1. Loi said at 4:58 pm on January 17th, 2012:

    Well, nice (chatty, long, interesting) thread—but i was really curious about the main thrust (no pun intended) of Art’s article: “It’s coming down the tracks folks—-approval of same-sex ‘marriage’ here in New Jersey. What do Conservatives (in both politics and the religious sphere) think?
    How are the rights of all citizens ensured/protected?”

    Towards the end—->”What do you think of this bill?”

    i ask: “What would be the impact of this legislation on our civil society?”

    We looped all over the place, in and out of many corners, rooms (and other openings)—-did we come to any definitive conclusion(s)?

    No matter, though—–good discussion.

    Thanks Art!

  2. Tom Stokes said at 2:58 pm on January 18th, 2012:

    Art, one final (hopefully) comment on this.

    The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is a pedophile and pederasty advocacy organization in the United States that works to abolish age of consent laws criminalizing adult sexual involvement with minors.

    Are you also advocating for pedophile homosexual activity to be condoned by government as “marriage”? If not, why not? Why would you discriminate against that subset of homosexual lifestyle?

    You said, “Equal rights under the law are sacrosanct in the United States of America. At least it is to political conservatives.”

    Oh, and polygamists would also love to have their multiple partners recognized as their legitimate health insurance beneficiaries as well.

    Art, they are called “alternative lifestyles” because they are out of the norm. That is a simple fact of Nature and God. Government had recognized this until recently, when state laws against sodomy were ended.

    I do not advocate violence against homosexuals, (as at least one major religion does, as well as several countries ruled by that religion).

    How many have held the hand of a man dying of aids caused by their conduct? I have and it’s not a pretty sight. I believe it was in the 1970’s and 80’s where so-called gay bath houses resulted in a major explosion of aids due to unprotected sex between multiple partners.

    Government must not, and cannot, condone such behavior resulting in such unfortunate health consequences by equating those unions with “marriage between a man and a woman”.

    Just where do civil unions break down and not allow “equal financial and property” rights? Redefine the problem specifically so that an answer can be found which does not destroy the family values many hold so dear.

    For example, if there is a problem with a civil union partner being allowed to see his partner in a hospital, then the solution would be a simple document signed by both which would direct the hospital to arrange such visitations. That could be written right into the civil union document itself.

    Why tear this state apart with such a divisive issue when cooler heads could review the alleged problems with civil unions and attempt to resolve the specific problems. But rights must be differentiated between benefits and privileges as stated by another poster (TR said at 11:08 am on January 16th).

    But one point, since homosexual behavior in and of itself is both unhealthy and very risky behavior, insurance companies must be allowed to charge an appropriate rate for those who engage in such behavior (as they do for smokers, etc. I do not wish to pay an additional health insurance premium to subsidize another’s risky behavior.

  3. ArtGallagher said at 8:34 pm on January 18th, 2012:

    Been off line for most of the last 36 hours, but I wanted to quickly respond to TR and Tom Stokes.

    Tom first. No, I do not support legislation to lower the age of consent for marriage. The current laws seem to be working just fine. Minors have different rights than adults and I believe that is appropriate.

    Just where do civil unions break down and not allow “equal financial and property” rights? Redefine the problem specifically so that an answer can be found which does not destroy the family values many hold so dear.

    I agree, the best result would be “to perfect” the civil union laws. It seems as though, as I have indicated earlier, that a major problem with civil unions is the fact that they are not recognised in other jurisdictions, i.e., the Pennsylvania company example, marriage/citizenships rights that I have written about in previous posts on this topic.

    But it’s not just inter-jurisdictional problems, as this letter to the app today describes: http://www.app.com/article/20120118/NJOPINION02/301180026/Civil-union-law-inadequate-when-medical-crisis-arose?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Frontpage|p

  4. ArtGallagher said at 10:16 pm on January 18th, 2012:


    The extreme examples came from you and I followed your lead.

    My questions and exercise are not red hearings. The question of sexual orientation being inate or an “alternative” choice is fundamental.

  5. TR said at 8:25 am on January 19th, 2012:

    I was going to stop but since Art directed his last comment directly at me I will give it one more shotbecause Art has misstated my position.
    I did not say sexual attraction is a choice.
    Wether to egage in homosexual sex is always a choice.
    My position is that We were created to be attracted to the opposite sex. That is the norm just they way the norm is for us to have two eyes one nose and one mouth ect…

    That norm can and is sometimes deviated from. The deviation, that is attraction to the same sex, can be stronger in some people then in others. It can be caused by numerous factors and the weight given to each of these factors can vary from person to person. Those factors are not all completly understood but it appears it can or may include include genetics, prenatal development (which is in itself influenced by hundreds of factors), cultural influences, sociological factors, things that happen to us as we develop emotionally. For instance there seems to be a correlation between homosexuality and family dynamics in many cases. There also appears to be a correlation between sexual abuse as a child and homosexuality. This does not mean that every person who identifies as homosexual has had these experinces or that everyone who has these experiences will be homosexual. It is not as simple as saying X causes homosexuality. It is much more complicated then that.
    The point is that there is no “gay gene” which dictates a person to be homosexual.

    The two points I am trying to make is that Homosexuality is not a natural state of being. It is not what we were meant to be any more then we were meant to be born without a vital organ.

    The second point is that homosexuality is not ,at the very least in some cases, immutable. There are people who have changed and can change. We should work at looking for ways to help people change rather then falsly telling them its ok to engage in a lifestyle that is detrimental to you because you were meant to be that way and we are going to give your relationship a stamp of approval.

    This is not compassion it is cruelity. It is akin to telling a cancer victim we can not cure you so that means you were meant to die young. Therefore we are not going to look for a cure. Here is a gun shoot yourself.

  6. James Hogan said at 10:57 am on January 19th, 2012:

    Ignore homosexuality and try to ignore your religious teachings or beliefs for a second…

    Why can’t I, an adult, have a consensual relationship with my girlfriend, another adult, and be treated equal to other adults who have done nothing different other than purchase a marriage certificate from the government?

    Why do “conservatives” want to be *just like* those terrible, awful homosexuals and beg the government to be involved in their private, adult matters?

    Shouldn’t the Free Market/Private Enterprise “conservative” rally around the idea that the government should get out of the marriage business (and it is a business for the government, that the bill to reduce the wait time promotes the “marriage tourism industry” is the giveaway) not get further into it? Shouldn’t someone who really cares about their religious institution be offended that the government [unfairly] competes against their church for marriage business?

    And as someone who firmly believes in [NoSpecificReligion here] which does not offer a marriage certification process, even for a fee, my First Amendment right to freedom of religion is being infringed upon because I’m going to be forced to give up my [non religious] beliefs and join another religion just to get marriage benefits (or penalties depending on your perspective) or I’ll have to go against my [non religious] beliefs and deal with the government which is a sin punishable by lashings in my house [of worship].

    And I shouldn’t leave off — last I checked, in NJ, civil unions are not available to opposite sex couples under the age of 6X, which also sounds like age discrimination. So I’m being discriminated against based on my religious beliefs and my age now.. and my fellow Freedom Loving “conservatives” meanwhile are just begging for the government to get even more involved in my life! 🙁

  7. TR said at 8:54 am on January 20th, 2012:

    Jim Thanks for a different subject.

    Religion aside there are secular reasons why your relationship should be treated differently from marriage. Civilly marriage is a contract. (and you can get a purely civil marraige, I am sure your Mayor would be glad to marry you.) It gives both parties rights and liabilities. It promotes predictability and stability. It is supposed to strenthen the relationship that is the building block of our society. It is the oldest institution in civillization. It also puts restrictions on people and I assume that is why you do not want to get married. However you do want another government approval. Thats really all a civil union is, more benefits less restrictions. A type of marriage by another name. It is a little odd that you are OK with government giving you a civil union but not a marriage certificate. I Guess you are OK with government involvement in your life if it is inviolvement you approve of. It is easier to walk away from a civil union then a marriage. If you don’t want the contract that is your right. Just don’t complain you are not getting the benefits. As to old people getting Civil Unions. That was just to get the votes for it to pass and so old people could in effect scam social security. Very wrong.

    Before someone else says it. yes marraige is not what it used to be. That is why there should not be such a thing as no fault divorce. that is one of the worst things to ever happen to western civilization.

    One last thought James. Do not confuse conservatisim with libertarianism. conservatives recognize there are some things government should be involved in. Supporting and protecting the building blocks (and yes the moral integrity) of our society is on the list.
    Ask yourself what the founding fathers or great philosphers like John Locke would think of how we treat marriage. That would be the conservative position. You are more of an Ayn Rand Libertarian.