Not So Compassionate, Not So Conservative, Compassionate Conservatism

Steve Farrell

by Steve Farrell

Missing the Mark With Religion, Part 3

Things are not always as they seem. Marxism’s war on religion presents evidence-a-plenty that this notion is true.

From both the left, in the name of Social Democracy, and from the right, in the name of Secular Government, Marx’s Atheistic teammates have pushed, shoved and pressed upon religion in public life until a bipartisan squeeze has effectively crushed what was once publicly pervasive into the less than popular enclave of that which is now publicly suppressed.

Christianity, today, though tarred and feathered, spit upon and lied about, has not given up however, and thanks be to God has begun to grow up, wake up, and in many instances live up to its duty to fight back.

Good news.

But not necessarily good enough – for while many Christians have come to table fully arrayed in the armor of God, with faith and reason, love and patience, perseverance and persistence, moral courage and good works, doing what ever it takes, and then some, to slow, check, and at times, reverse our nation’s amoral freefall into possible oblivion; there are other Christians, some of them Christian ministers, sad to say, that are among our worst enemies, whether by intent or not.

They are the sort who, when the going gets tough, look not to themselves or to God, or to both, but to the state to bail them out, or lift them up, or even in fairly good times to move them forward (in their careers), as if God and His congregation, and their own two strong hands aren’t good enough to take them where they need to go, to do what they need to do, without a state subsidy, or a dole, or a handout, or a cushy cushion.

That’s a problem. For there are also many in the state, or a great number who are vying for power within the state, who are more than willing to oblige whatever beggar comes along in rags or in robes, if it means more votes, more recognition, and for the very few dedicated ideologues among them, an advancement of the ubiquitous revolution of Marx & Lenin.

Enter Compassionate Conservatism, a ‘safe’ middle ground approach, call it an ‘inclusive’ approach if you will (for it has a little bit of something for everyone), that mixes the best of Communism (come again? – ‘its charitable nature,’ they say) with the best of Capitalism (‘its efficiency’); and discards the worst of both (Communism’s sluggish bureaucracy; Capitalism’s heartlessness; – we lessee-fairists are all ‘dog eat dog Scrooges’ you know!), with it seems, this hidden goal, in the short run to exploit yet another group for a few million votes, and in the long run to undermine Christianity.

Mind you, few will see it that way, or plan it that way, some going so far as to actually believe they are doing Christianity a good turn, and serving God in the process. It matters not. Results are results. If you plant nothing but a stinking dead fish in the soil, you’re not going to produce golden ears of corn. Socialism is socialism is socialism, even when the smiling socialists sell wings, halos, hymnals, and harps, and read “Christianity Today” in their leisure.

The ‘New’ Strategy

The new strategy is essentially an old one (as most new strategies are), excavated and resurrected by the Monks of the Third Way (Compassionate Conservatism’s 1990′s forerunner). It goes something like this:

‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’ Better yet, tweak that; throw in for good measure, ‘If you can’t beat them, cajole them, bribe them, promise them, pray with them, sing Hallelujah with them, and finally say unto them whatever they want to hear so long as they vote for you, and join hands with you in a prayer for sweet, compassionate Uncle Leviathan.

It’s just socialism with a progressive, twist mind you. Nothing to fear.

And it’s bound to work. In fact, it IS working.

The Sales Pitch

To purchase the national soul – even with something so delicious as a free lunch – requires considerable skill, and an A-1 sales pitch. Compassionate Conservatism has one. Here it is: ‘We like you. We trust you. You’re the backbone of our country, the first line of our defense, the traditional source of welfare to our poor. And, you know, we say this from our heart of hearts, you did it better than the federal government ever did back in the old days, through volunteerism, through a faith-based approach, through genuine love. You know this is true. So do we.

‘Times have changed, however. Not as many people contribute to private charities as in the past. It’s a shame. We know you’re struggling, and could use a little help.

‘On the other hand, times have changed with the federal government as well. We’ve grown too large, too impersonal, too inflexible for this business of helping people. It’s made many Americans cynical about government welfare programs. I can’t blame them. We need to fix welfare. We need your help too.

‘There are just some things that you do, that we could never do, that personal touch, that local, close to the problem, common sense solution, and the ability to not only feed the stomach, but heal the soul.

‘Nevertheless, while we’re not very good at that – it’s not our job! – there are things we do, do better. Like ‘raise’ money, provide organizational skills, and tap into a vast network or ‘advisers’ and ‘experts’ who have seen what has and has not worked.

‘Maybe now you’re seeing what I’m seeing. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we need each other, that it’s time to put away old ideas of how things work, that it’s for the government to stop thinking its job is to hinder the church and it’s time for the church to stop thinking its job is to fear the government. We can work together and make for better times and a better America than we’ve ever seen before. We’ll give you the tools you need to succeed with your mission. In turn, you’ll provide the personal touch, ingenuity, and faith, to help us better fulfill our mission. Thus, by our meeting half way between private and public, between too little government and too much government we can prove to the world for the first time in history that government can be the friend of all, and the enemy of none.’

Somebody hand me an American flag and a Holy Bible; I’m feeling patriotic and religious all at the same time!

The Lure

The pitch is obviously a good one, ‘we’ve finally wised up, we need each other, so let’s be partners with well defined roles. We’ll do what we do best. You’ll do what you do best. That ever unreachable Utopia is finally within our grasp.’

Yet, there’s still something suspicious about this for many, something eerily dangerous about combining God and Mammon even when the message and its messenger is a smooth one.

We need a big prize to lure in Peter’s big fish, and his myriad schools of little fish. The lure is quite familiar, as well. Tried and tested. Dyed in the wool – with a new twist: An assortment of bribes and bridges to the ‘needy,’ though the needy are not your typical pack of peasants from the past, rather they are now churches, charities, private schools, state and city governments, corporations, and ordinary, run-of-the-mill, hard working – but tight on funds – groups and individuals, to include parents fed up with the quality of the schools they send their kids too. You know, the ‘working poor,’ or the ‘worthy poor’; or the otherwise economically strapped through no fault of their own, poor – big time businesses included, who because they employ ‘the working poor,’ can’t be permitted to fail, lest we all fail.

And so what could be a better solution, a more laudable solution, a more American solution then a kind, gentle, and prosperous benefactor to unload an array of ‘free’ goodies, with this intent only, to lend a ‘helping’ hand to the backbone of America, to ‘help’ them help themselves, and in turn, ‘help’ their neighbor, and ‘help’ America?

Sign me up! I’m standing at attention! The Stars and Stripes march again! The state has returned to its roots, with a fresh, smart, intelligent, progressive 21st Century approach! Hurray!

Remember, we are not talking about food stamps for the slothful, medical coverage for illegal aliens, soup kitchens or free housing for dead beats derelicts (though mind you, none of these programs are going away). No, just a Santa Claus-like list of ‘free’ facilities, ‘free’ text books, ‘free’ teachers, ‘free’ police officers, ‘free’ training, and ‘free’ schools for those who will make good use of them, in fact better use of them then the federal government ever could.

And regarding the schools, the benevolent benefactor, who will insure ‘no child is left behind,’ permits parents to take their pick between charter, Christian, or secular private schools – after all, this newly enlightened benefactor believes in defending our right to ‘free’ choice, and well, competitive markets even in public institutions.

A mixture of compassion and competitive markets is what it’s all about. Balance, balance, finally some balance.

A Sure Sale

Let’s admit it. This was a brilliant stroke. Offer to ‘save’ those in the private sector still struggling upward against the disastrous effects of socialism, by inviting them to stop fighting socialism by partaking of the spoils themselves, of course, being ever careful not to state it quite so bluntly. Yet come on, think about it. What could be smarter? As the noose tightens around the neck of each newly dependent pastor, parent, professional, and private administrator, each will be equally wrapped up in gratitude that the rope was ‘free;’ their captors, compassionate; and the program vaguely capitalistic.

The Moral Premises of Compassionate Conservatism – Just in Case

Still, even with such a good pitch, and such shiny lures, not every fish in the sea snaps at the first sight of the lure. Besides, men are not fish. Men think! Men have principles! And well, beyond that, getting back to the thinking idea, some men think harder than others. There is a class of this sort. We call them, or wait a minute, they call themselves ‘the intellectuals.’ Money matters little to them. Influence and praise do. They love to be flattered, love to have their ears tickled, and love to have politicians pay them public homage.

So for them a confession of sensible premises, a creed, if you will, is presented at the alter as an intellectual offering. With words like these, they pray:

‘Private enterprise, private charity, and local decision making is best, and when complimented by civic virtue, collectively represent the foundation stone of America’s success story. Amen. Private citizens and private corporations in the interest of human progress ought to be free to pursue their economic, educational, and moral affairs with relatively few fetters placed upon them by government. Amen

‘Freedom, however, requires responsibility. Amen.

‘Therefore, all private citizens, corporations, and churches are bound to exercise their liberties without infringing upon the rights of others. Amen and Amen.’

So far, so conservative, so sensible, and so Very Holy. Who could object? The intellectual conservative’s ears are tickled. Homage to their god is paid. But here the homage ends.

Buyer Beware!

Conservative, Christian, Jew, Entrepreneur, Parent, State and Local Government beware! ‘Freedom,’ says the Compassionate Conservative, ‘also requires another type of responsibility, thus: all private citizens and corporations are not only bound by right-protecting negative laws, ‘the thou shalt nots;’ but are likewise expected to perform certain good deeds, ‘the thou shalts’ or positive laws, for in behalf of their neighbors, their community, and their nation.

Compassionate Conservatism calls this civic duty, or more hauntingly as is done at the U.N., in Russia, and in China, this is about ‘civil society.’ And while the duty to do good and to be civil sounds somewhat like the Christian call to service, or early America’s plea for civic virtue, it is neither, for there are two key differences: 1. Civic virtue and Christian religion persuade. Civil society and Compassionate Conservatism demand. 2. Civic virtue and Christianity look to the Sermon on the Mount. Civil society and Compassionate Conservatism looks to the harangues of Karl Marx.

Not surprisingly, Compassionate Conservatism, for all its trust in the individual and the local decision-maker, possesses an intrinsic distrust for human agency. It is not willing to let go and trust man to serve man. It feels compelled to intervene and make up for man’s moral shortcomings. Liberty must be ‘coached,’ charity must be subsidized. And virtue, trouble abounds there. For one virtue above all others must be instilled in us by them, ‘tolerance, tolerance, and more tolerance!’ Tolerance is the code word of all code words in this faith, and suffice it to say Compassionate Conservatism’s, Third Way definition of tolerance is not the rational Biblical one which teaches us to “hate the sin but love the sinner,” but the fanatical Marxist one which censures those who would dare to call sin, ‘sin.’

This new brand of tolerance legalizes debauchery in favor of social progress, and demonizes orthodox religion in favor of social solidarity.

Compassionate Conservatism, therefore, in substance is destined to be cruel and despotic. It preaches life, but denounces “litmus tests.’ It preaches love of neighbor, but steals from the rich to give to the poor. It praises private industry, but sends them subsidies and ‘advisers.’ It defends free markets, but erects elaborate regional regulatory schemes. It claims that we need more local government, but labors for the new world order. It cries for greater accountability, but outlaws negative campaign speech. And it clamors for Democracy, but demands that citizens ‘Shut up and vote!’ as they now do in Canada.

As for the truly poor or handicapped, those who socialists have coddled and crippled for generations, they are stuck now as young single mothers, unprepared to face the world, simultaneously charged by Compassionate Conservatives to choose between the communist obligation to work, and the parens patria mandate to watch over their children.

Welfare will still be available, but short lived. Reliance on self and family will be encouraged, but monitored. If the mother fails, Third Way Compassionate ‘Boy’s Towns’ have been suggested, which will scoop up either the hungry or the neglected children left behind. The state, therefore, wins the prize it forever coveted. Such is compassionate reform. Mother works for the state, the child, by and by is owned by the state.

Claims, Claims, Claims

Third Way Compassionate Conservatism claims to deeply believe that re-enthroning private enterprise, private charity, local decision making, and civil society are noteworthy long term goals.

But there is a catch. In the short run Compassionate Conservatism believes that we must first work with things as they are, not as we wish them to be. Thus, their solution is for the federal Government to stimulate that which is private and that which is local back to life through the ‘compassion’ of federal block grants, federal advisers, and federal government private partnerships. (1)

These grants, advisers, and partnerships are to be directed to everything private and everything local to help people help themselves, as already noted, with one whopper of a promise: They will ‘forever only help, and ‘forever only advise.’

Time to Think Clearly

You don’t say. Are we honestly supposed to believe that purse strings are not purse strings when history, common sense, and the law counter with fact, logic, and precedent, that purse strings have been, are now, and always will be purse strings?

How could we forget that one of the very things Compassionate Conservatism sets its eye on – saving education – was subverted by the very same kinds of federal aid programs designed back in the 1960′s for the ‘poorest of the poor, in the poorest of the poorest schools,’ with the very same promise, to ‘not control, but only aid’ state and local schools in their compassionate duty?

We should not forget. We should remember.

We should remember the 1963 Supreme Court decisions of Engel v. Vitale, and Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schemp got away with banning God, the Bible, virtue, and the religious side of U.S. history from the public classroom, because federal aid to those same schools gave the Supreme Court jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court exercised that jurisdiction.

We should remember, the U.S. president at the time defended these same two decisions, using a line of rationale Compassionate Conservatism blindly ignores: “That which the government subsidizes, it has the right to control.”

It has. It does. And it will.

What responsible parent would not do the same? Money parents pay out to dependent children is not given without terms, limits, and a checkup system in place. Parents ‘trust, but they verify.’ All worthy stewards do. The state will do the same; you can count on it. Could any point of history, law, and common sense be clearer?

The Predictable Result

Alexander Hamilton warned 213 years ago: “Those who pay are the masters of those who are paid.” (2)

It is common sense; for any of us to believe otherwise is to miss the mark with religion in public life and to vainly imagine in our heart of hearts that the road to the New Jerusalem is paved in federal green. Let it be known from this moment forward, such a one who believes in this has abandoned all logic, reason, historical sense and faith for a horde of emotion, irrationality, speculation, and superstition.

Doles undermine free agency and are paid for via legal theft. Thus, Compassionate Conservatism – that name shifter of Third Way, Futurism, even progressive Marxist-Leninism roots – is not conservative and is not compassionate. It is but the latest in a series of schemes designed to derail the last remnants of true conservatism and true compassion, and ultimately those eternal verities of the Judeo-Christian law that lay at the foundation of our once limited government under the U.S. Constitution. If we are then to stand by America and stand by our religions, whatever they may be, we ought to reject Compassionate Conservatism and its state appointed, state subsidized, and state dependent ministers with all the energy of our souls.

(Read Missing the Mark with Religion, Part 1, Modern Liberalism) and Part 2, Libertarianism: The Oxymoronic Faith.)

Contact Steve

Copyright © 2012 Steve Farrell.

Steve Farrell is the Founder and Editor In Chief of The Moral Liberal ( one of the original and most popular pundits at (1999-2008),  and the author of the highly praised inspirational novel Dark Rose.


1. This idea of government private partnerships was one of the leading proposals by Fabian Socialist John Maynard Keynes in his “The Death of Lessee-Faire.”

2. Madison, James. “The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787,” Friday, June 22, 1787, Alexander Hamilton speaking.

Your comments