National Conservatism’s Motivated Minority
MIAMI—National conservatism has gotten plenty of press in recent years, but defining what exactly the movement stands for is often difficult. The Edmund Burke Foundation, which has sponsored several “NatCon” conferences, recently took on that challenge. “National Conservatism: A Statement Of Principles” laid out 10 organizing themes—from promoting national independence and the rule of law to rejecting imperialism and globalism. While the authors believe that “Jews and other religious minorities are to be protected in the observance of their own traditions,” the document states that “where a Christian majority exists, public life should be rooted in Christianity and its moral vision.”
Christianity was indeed one of the driving forces at the third annual NatCon convention in Miami this month, as was the fear of losing that Christian majority. Today 65 percent of American adults identify as Christian, a 12-point drop from a decade ago. Only 47 percent of Americans belong to any religious institution. And just over a third of Americans attend a religious service once a week. Perhaps the greatest question for national conservatives is whether the movement is doomed by these trends or poised to reverse them.
R.R. Reno, co-author of the statement of principles and editor of the religious journal First Things, sees a Christ-centered conservative nationalism as the solution. He recalled in an interview with The Dispatch the sense that, during his childhood in the 1960s, “Christianity transcended partisan divides in the country.” He lamented that Christian faith went from a presumed baseline to “the forefront of various political differences.”