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On Political Vs. Religious Conservatism

In a long Ghost-of-Franky-Schaeffer post about the difficulties converts face coming into Orthodoxy, Father Jonathan Tobias (himself a convert) makes an important point about the struggle some converts may face over political identity. Orthodoxy, he says, includes:

… the freedom to become politically liberal. Such a thing is not possible in Christian fundamentalism: it is more than possible in the mainline protestant tradition, where the liberalism of universal enfranchisement and economic justice is joined, corruptly, to the rejection of Holy Tradition.

But the old fashioned political liberalism is very possible in Orthodoxy. There is — as I have brought to your attention many times heretofore in these phosphorescent pages — much patristic precedent for cursing usury, totalitarianism, the ownership of slaves, the lack of regard for the powerless and the marginalized, the dominance of the entertainment cultus, the beating of wives and children, and the stinking up of the environment.

I will be friends with those who hold to the conservatism of Orthodox dogma, whether they drift toward the platform of either wings, left or right. But I cannot keep table with those who refuse to raise their glass to the Nicene Creed.

It is one thing to be liberal or even socialist: it is quite another to disavow the Creed and Tradition.

Dear Social Justice Types: Fighting for the poor does not require one to become a heretic.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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