A FUNNY THING happened last night. I got a challenge in comments from a friend. Well, maybe not a friend, yet. We’ve only met a few times, spent spare hours in one another’s company, corresponded briefly in email and blog comments. Nevertheless, I highly respect her and hope that, given time, the relationship may develop into something Cicero would recognize as between friends.

The comment thread is here.

This is relevant to the topic at hand because I do not feel I can dismiss her expressed feelings out of hand as I might with a stranger. Nevertheless, I disagree with what seem to be her conclusions on a topic on which I don’t feel my own stand to be all that firm or well-grounded. As a result of my unsure footing, I found myself inching farther and farther out on a shaky limb with a saw in my hand — the one closer to the trunk. I had to stop.

Tam expressed — as I see it (please feel free to jump in and disagree) — a frustration a lot of liberty-oriented individualists express with what they seem to see as the collectivist, nanny-state tendencies of religious conservatives. The complaint seems to be that said relicons want to dictate public morality exclusively based on the Mosaic code, when there are apparent elements of that code which deny the fundamental beliefs of said individualists.

Said fair?

Among the oft-voiced complaints is the one that relicons want to act as bedroom cops and deny non-relicon-type folk the right, privilege, space, and peace of mind to do in their own bedrooms what they will, so long as it involves only consenting adults and nobody comes to harm.

Honestly, no one I’ve ever met since I turned eighteen and my own parents could no longer assert control over my behavior…

From what I’ve heard, it started a long time before that.

Hush, you!

…no one I’ve met since then has ever tried to control my behavior in such a manner, nor has one ever threatened to.

But you’re not gay.

No. True. But even if I were, it’d be nobody’s business what I did in private and I would labor to keep it that way. But we don’t live in a libertarian paradise… and I’m getting distracted again.

Stop. Breathe.

What I’m trying to get around to is this: Just as it beehoves gunnies not to permit the breach between hunters and self-defense proponents to widen (or even to exist), so to does it behoove the Right not to build a wall between social conservatives and libertarians. Live and let live.

I’m actually speaking more from the libertarian side of the dance floor, but understand and sympathize with folk of faith at the same time. Personally, I don’t feel threatened by the faithful. That’s probably because I believe mostly as they do. I would not call myself Christian only because I am not a member of a congregation, and that is one of the primary requirements of the faith — that you gather in His name. At the same time, I don’t believe that the call to evangelism is a call to bother either God or your neighbors. There is a time and a place to witness, and every moment everywhere you go asking, “Have you met Jesus?” is not good salesmanship. A soft sell is far more likely to meet a receptive audience and find eventual success.

What He called the still, small voice.

I was, however, raised to respect the beliefs and rituals of others. What someone else needs or does in his search for enlightenment is not for me to say, so long as it doesn’t harm me.

Libertarianism is a belief in and an urge toward liberty. This blessing of GOD is an expression the natural yearning of the human spirit to breathe free. As the mind and soul of the individual are the apotheosis of mankind, liberty is of necessity a characteristic of the individual. Every human being must be permitted to find and enjoy it in his own way and time. It’s not for you or me to say, so long as you or I remain unharmed by a man’s exercise of his freedom.

And: aware of the difference between liberty and freedom. Just go with it, OK?

Agnostic or atheistic libertarians do need to recognize a few things, though. You inhabit a civilization that was founded by and developed by — by en large — Christians. Yes, adherents of other faiths contributed. Bully for them. But YOU — here and now — inhabit a piece of Christendom. Have a little courtesy, wouldja?

The people you call “God-botherers” were, for the most part, minding their own business when, all of a sudden (from their perspective), they were suddenly attacked for no good reason by a bunch of godless heathens. They didn’t get political in order to force their way of life on you or anybody else. They got political — as so many do — to defend their way of life from attack.

Keep that in mind, please.

Herewith follows a deliberate digression.

One of the oft-expressed expressions of surprised expression people express on meeting a bunch of gunnies — or any other random group of conservatives — in a social setting for the first time, is how nice everybody is. If you’ve hung around with Democrats or other leftists a lot, you may have noticed that they have a tendency to sound like teenagers — arch, sarcastic, cynical, bitter, judgemental — while conservatives tend to be friendlier. Nicer. More open. Happier. Obviously, vast and sweeping generalizations, but you know they hold true.

Here’s a tip: the faithful are also nicer, more open, happier, more tolerant. That’s because their faith (with a singular exception) mandates that they be that way. Yes, there are dour, ascetic sects. I was raised in a Calvinistic tradition, for all it was watered down. People did smile. I even remember some church elders joking once. ONCE. (J/K) One of them even called another a sybarite in jest. ::gasp::

It’s possible for all of us to just … get along. If the faithful can be a little less aggressive in proselytizing, and if the ag- and a- folk can accept that, no, the God-botherers don’t really give a rip what you do in private, just don’t scare the horses, we’ll get along just fine.

A special note to the faithful: Make your case without reference to God. That’s called an Appeal to Authority, and it weakens your case. Your faith can inform your arguments, but “God says so!” only wins with other people who probably agree with you anyway. Your moral case can be founded in logic and certain, known societal goods, and will be more persuasive for it among those who do not believe as you. And, if you’re only argument is, “It’s in the Bible!” I’d suggest you read further in the scriptures. (I always found the Anchor Concordance a good tool for research.) As you should know by now, nearly anything asserted in scripture can be matched with its diametric opposite somewhere else — sometimes in the same book. This is not an argument against the Word, but an argument against your surety that YOU know the Word and can interpret as God meant it. Have a care for your pride.

A special note to the areligious: Don’t assume that any argument from a person of faith is ipso facto founded in ignorance, poor reasoning, or a a doltish reliance on scripture as a substitute for thought.

Above all, do not trust the straw men that the Left and its willing accomplices in the legacy partisan media have thrown together to persuade either of you that the other is the devil incarnate. It ain’t so.

I’m sure I missed something, got something wrong, or didn’t get to a key point. But it’s too late now….

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