In a word: no. As Corsey lays out his argument, one is left wondering why Corsey is a conservative in the first place? On what foundation is conservativism based on without a fundamental belief in God? He begins by laying out his basic reason for considering himself a conservative:
One of the reasons I am a proud conservative is because it comes closest to the belief of what our Founding Fathers had in mind for this country, and the values of that system give an equal shake to anyone who wishes to come here. Religion in my opinion is not as forgiving, and can be as big of a divider in this country as race . . .
But one must wonder, then, why follow the beliefs of the Fonding Fathers? On what basis did the Founding Fathers found this nation? Where did their ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come from? Grant it, there were centuries of political theory and philosophy behind much of the Founder's demand for liberty and a Democratic Republic, but the question remains, where did such fundamental convictions of the Founding Fathers come from?
Though the Founding Fathers stopped short of pushing one particular religion, their belief in the existence and providence of God stood as the foundation for their political thought. Even a cursory read of the founding documents and from the Founding Fathers themselves affirm this conviction. No nation will establish a small government that promotes liberty instead of tyranny if it denies the authority and providence of God as the twenty-first century proved. By rejecting God, government takes the role of the highest authority in the life of the people. Even in atheistic nations the people must follow and submit to someone and when God is denied, government willingly takes His empty seat (and His unlimited authority). This is not a religious statement. The Founders opposed a federal religion but encouraged a national belief in God.
Corsey raises an interesting point regarding the divisiveness of religion. Most religions, including Christianity, regards itself as the one true religion and rightfully so. Why bother with a religion if it offers no assurance? If one can find God anywhere, why bother participating in a particular religion? But we must not forget the serious questions that religion seeks to answer like how can I be made right with God? how can I escape judgment? what is the meaning of life? why am I here? is there a God? what is right and wrong? Even atheism has answers to these questions.
Corsey continues his argument by focusing primarily on the issue of homosexuality. In our world today homosexuality is proof of the divisiveness of religion. He argues:
Religion also leaves many people by the wayside if you don't subscribe to their beliefs. Many gays and lesbians share all the same values as any other American yet they are shunned in most religious circles, because of their sexual preferences. I'm a happily married man and I do not subscribe to their way of doing things, but who am I, or who are you, to judge them? . . . . I also believe that they should be entitled to anything that a married couple should be entitled to, including adoption and getting the other spouse's Social Security benefits after one spouse has passed on.
One can see where the fundamental difference between an atheistic worldview and a theological worldview lie. The issue of morality is itself divisive and the homosexual debate only adds fuel to the fire. From an atheistic worldview, there is no reason to regard homosexuality wrong. Apart from a Divine Lawgiver why condemn two people in love, even if they are of the same sex, just like you and me?
But this raises an important issue regarding morality? Why does Corsey consider homosexuality to be moral yet other sexual preferences immoral? On what basis is he making his conclusions? Corsey goes on to raise the issue of the slippery slope: if homosexuality is permited what about polygamy, polyamory, incest, or even bestiality? Can the same arguments in favor of homosexuality be made for these other lifestyles? And if so, then why deny a polygamists his right to fulfill their own sexual desires.
Corsey allows this to be a possibility, but yet remains firm in conviction that there should be limits to what the State considers sexually lawful. He says that as long as "gays and lesbians follow the same value system as the rest of us, are over the age of 18, are not accosting minors, and they are doing it of their own free will and not being forced into it, then they are not harming anyone, and should not be ridiculed or excluded from society or religion for that matter." But why? On what grounds are his limits to sexuality based on? On what basis can one deny a minor and an adult, regardless of their genders, participate in sexual activity? On what basis can one deny bisexual polygamy between adults and minors? Why must it be consensual? What do you mean by a shared "value system?"
Apart from a fundamental belief in God who acts as a Divine Lawgiver that determines what is right and wrong, moral relativism is inevitable and as culture evolves, so will its morality. Can Corsey say today that if he were still alive 100 years from today he would still affirm this statement? By then not only will homosexuality likely be legal and normal, but so will other sexual lifestyles? On what basis does one draw limits and laws within a society when morality is relative on account of the absence of a holy deity? Such a philosophy is left with the option of simply making moral claims up. Divorce and homosexuality were morally wrong 100 years ago, but today it is not because society has said so and society has drawn such conclusions arbitrary because of its rejection of God.
Corsey goes on to provide more moral and political conclusions based on this weak foundation. He adds that neither sexual education (except maybe in high school, but before that, it should be limited to discussions of the differences in gender only, and only with parents attendance) or prayer should be promoted in schools. Prayer promotes one religion over another and sexual education is abused and encourages students to violate possible moral convictions:
My being against teaching gay sex in school is one of the same reasons school prayer should not be allowed. Sexual preference and religion have no business in our schools, these are subjects that are for home discussion, not school discussion. School is for learning, not for teaching about sex or religion. Religion belongs in one's home or place of worship, not in our schools. In instituting prayer in our schools, we would be forcing the beliefs of one religion onto the ones of another religion, or on those who do not wish it, causing strife. Just like teaching sexual orientation would force a set of unwanted beliefs on others.
Again, on what basis does Corsey make such conclusions? If homosexuality is a shared value among Americans, why not teach it at public schools? If prayer is a shared value among Americans, why not allow it in public schools? Corsey, again, is left determining policy out of a straw hat of his own design. Theism, on the other hand, is not so lucky.
But perhaps the most amazing argument comes in the concluding paragraph. The atheist conservative argues:
In values we can all find common ground, but not so much with religious views - too many differences. Right and wrong have no religion, they are of almost every religion and of none. Don't get me wrong, I think religion does have its place in our society, but that place is a place of our own choosing not religion's choosing. Religion does not choose us, we choose whatever religion we choose to be. But American values and principles reside in the vast majority of all Americans, and can be used to bring all of us closer together regardless of religion, race, or sexual orientation.
"Right and wrong have no religion?" His argument is that one cannot say that the morality of one religion is superior to another religion (including non-religion) because all religions teach basically the same thing. This is simply not true. Already Corsey has shown his moral view regarding sexuality that runs contrary to many other religious beliefs. If God is not needed in conservatism then does that mean that Corsey's moral opinions rooted in his atheistic worldview become the standard that one must adopt in order to be included in the conservative movement? Is Corsey not encouraging his readers to follow him and not their religious beliefs that run contrary to his moral beliefs? Is that not divisive?
Such naivete is folly. America is built on division. Democracy cannot thrive without divisions. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to ensure that democracy will flourish. And that Bill of Rights is built on the assumption that there is a God. The minute persons are told what not to say or the press is told what not to report is the minute democracy dies. Unity is wonderful, but apart from uniformity (which quenches freedom and liberty) it is impossible. There is no such thing as a uniformed democratic, free society.
So must one believe in God in order to be conservative? Regarding some political issues perhaps not. But regarding the issues raised by Corsey, including small government and morality, unless one affirm a belief in the Divine it is hard to imagine how one could consistently be conservative. The atheist conservative sounds more like a atheistic moderate (or even liberal) regarding moral issues than his theistic counterparts and fails to explain why he believes in the small government principles of the Founding Fathers if God does not exist.
As Christians, we must not forget the effect that our theology plays in our politics and our moral outlook. If we are bound by Scripture, then relativism is an unwelcomed guest. So long as America affirms its traditional and founding belief in a providential God who stands as the ultimate judge over our actions, policies, and vote then we will uphold the legacy of our Founding Fathers. But the minute we let go of such a foundation, then all that the Founders stood for will likely crumble before our very eyes.
Shane Corsey (American Thinker) - God, Conservatism and Values
"Common Sense" - Glenn Beck
"Common Sense" - Thomas Paine