Over at the interesting website Beyond Teshuva, devoted to issues raised by Jews returning from secularism to Judaism, Kressel Housman comes “out of the closet” as…a liberal. As someone “raised on liberal values,” she reflects:
I know liberalism is unpopular in frum [religious] circles, and I know there are good reasons for it. Israel is number one, of course, but then there are matters like abortion and gay marriage.
I salute the author for being open, and for giving me an occasion to formulate Klinghoffer’s Law, based on my experience of hearing many people’s personal stories:
Jews who return to Jewish tradition often become more politically conservative, sometimes stay as they were, but almost never become more liberal. This is a strong indication that the natural political stance of a believing Jew is conservative, not liberal.
I suspect a similar dynamic could be identified among Christians who have experienced a renewal of or return to faith. I bet it’s also true of Reform and Conservative Jews who were previously less committed. If true, this poses a major challenge to liberals who see their religion as supportive of their politics.
Think I’m wrong? Let’s put it to a test. I invite readers, Jewish and Christian, to share their own experience. Did your spiritual recommitment translate into changed political views?
If so, how? My hunch is that we will find few if any cases where religious involvement translated into a leftward movement across the political spectrum, but many cases where it translated into enhanced conservatism. Again, if you think I’m wrong, and if you think you can prove it — not with insults, please, but with examples — go right ahead.
If your experience fits my proposed Law, please also let me know.
In my own memoir about teshuva, or spiritual return, The Lord Will Gather Me In
, the political element was among the most controversial. My current book, How Would God Vote?
, goes into detail about why
Torah’s politics are so conservative.
The argument in a nutshell is that conservative views on a variety of issues (though not all) are linked by a common insistence on personal responsibility, an emphasis that pervades Torah, especially as understood by the great modern Orthodox sage, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.