Austin Hill

The Republican primary races are underway, and pundits are abuzz about whether or not religious social conservatives will embrace Mitt Romney.

That’s an interesting and worthwhile question.  But here’s another interesting question: do religious social conservatives care about the free market economy, and capitalism?

I’ve pondered this question over the years, in previous columns and in various talk radio venues.  When I do, I usually get very angry, visceral answers – responses like “of course we do,” and “how do you dare even ask?”

Despite the anger and discomfort, this is an important question to be asking.  Religious social conservatives are large in number and can influence the outcomes of elections. And as our nation is currently at an economic crossroads, it remains to be seen what our country and our country’s economic system will be like in the future.

But before we think about capitalism, ponder this for a moment: who are “religious social conservatives,” anyway? According to research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 70 Percent of American adults identify with some form of evangelical Protestant Christianity, mainline denominational Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Orthodox Judaism, or Mormonism.

Obviously, adherents to these various faith traditions do not all think alike on issues of culture and public policy. However many members of these religious groups share common, strongly-held beliefs and values, so it is not surprising that over the past several decades they have often exhibited similar responses to public policy concerns amid America’s changing cultural landscape.

This is to say that not every individual who practices one of these religious traditions necessarily qualifies as a religious social conservative.  However, the religious social conservative movement is comprised of members all of these various faith communities, while the movement is most certainly dominated by Evangelical Protestant Christians.

The earliest beginnings of this movement can be traced back to the social upheaval of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s youth culture, and the 1973 Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision.  After decades of non-participation in elections and public policy debates, many devoutly religious Americans became alarmed by a “hippie” generation that was determined to overthrow our culture’s authority structures, and by their government arbitrarily determining that unborn children were not really human beings. 

Austin Hill

Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.