The current political climate might be unfortunately tinged by partisan politics, but that doesn’t mean new points of view cannot emerge. A healthy society needs people who ask questions, challenge the norm and explore new ideas.
Even at a time when Americans are more polarized than ever before, examples of political irreverence are out there. Those who won’t settle, won’t drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. Without them, the United States would cease to be the land of the free. Here are a few examples of groups that embody this unique spirit.
Some Republicans Don’t Believe in God
Atheism is on the rise in the United States. Young people, in particular, are questioning the need for organized religion — more than half of millennials who grew up attending church have abandoned their faith.
Christian values have always been at the center of GOP policy, but the Republican Atheists call themselves an organization for Humanists, Agnostics and other “nones” who hold conservative values but don’t subscribe to a traditional faith. Nothing about second-amendment rights, tax policy or foreign policy is inherently tied to Christianity — these topics have become affiliated because of common practice.
For more on the Republican Atheist movement, feel free to check out my recent interview with Lauren Ell, who is the founder and President of the organization.
The Christian Left
We recently examined the Christian Left movement here on Secular Left. Maybe you’ve considered some of the ways conservative party members interpret bible verses and questioned whether they really add up. The Christian Left is for people who find themselves in precisely this dilemma.
To quote their website “The Christian Left, left hate behind; left prejudice; left callous attitudes; and followed Jesus as he left the 99 in the fold, to go find the ones who were lost, ignored, excluded, overlooked, abandoned, uncared-for—all ‘the least of these.’ We left hard-heartedness in order to be like the Samaritan who stopped to care for those in need.”
Rather than champion the more traditionally conservative Christian values — those that instruct disciples about what not to do — the Christian Left subscribes to a policy of acceptance and openly supports groups like the LGBT.
Can You be Buddhist and Conservative?
The western world may be less familiar with Buddhism than other areas of the globe, but it’s fair to say that a lot of people might assume a western-world Buddhist to be liberal. Think yogi-hippies.
Buddhism is often described as a lifestyle rather than a religion, mainly because followers do not consider Buddha a god.
Buddhism is not a practice that excludes its followers from exploring one worldview or another, even though the ideals that Buddha thought tend to steer people towards a more liberal path. Christopher Ford, lawyer and Special Assistant to the President, actually believes many Buddhist teachings parallel with conservative beliefs, and that American Buddhists have much to contribute to the political landscape on both sides.
The Liberal Catholic Church
Those who wish to practice Catholicism but without the minority-excluding doctrine of the Roman church can do so through any of several churches that identify as part of the Liberal Catholic faith. The church has been an open supporter of the progressive movement, and has even been listed among religious institutions friendly to the LGBT.
Conservatives With Pride (The Good Kind of Pride!)
We’ve spent a lot of this article discussing religious groups that are surprisingly liberal, but what about cultural groups that defy the norms? The idea of a gay conservative might surprise you, but they’re out there.
Chad Felix Greene wrote in his piece for The Huffington Post that “To be sure, there is a gay left and a gay right.” Read the article and you will begin to understand that, while Greene’s views might not be as far right-leaning as those of hardline ultra-conservatives, it is only the extreme partisanship that we endure today that makes Greene’s political stance a surprise.
Greene points to a prime example of just such a cultural paradox in Milo Yiannopoulos, who champions extremely conservative viewpoints while at the same time embracing support of the LGBT community.
We need groups like this to expand the way we think. In a nation founded on freedom to practice whatever beliefs you choose, to turn our back on those rights would be foolhardy.
Many of these groups may never rise to power, and that’s not their agenda. Instead, they exist as an example of the open society we strive for. They remind us that even if something may seem a matter-of-fact, it’s smart to take a second look and question the status quo.
Kate Harveston is a political activist and writer from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelors in English and minored Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to law, politics and culture, and how those elements intersect. If you like her writing, you can follow her on Twitter for updates or subscribe to her blog, Only Slightly Biased.