It has been fascinating to watch the trends in evangelical political and social thought over the last few decades. I find a lot of Christians around my age, late millennials and Gen Xers, have become weary and critical of the old religious right, viewing it as stale, controlling and lacking in compassion.
What is interesting though is most of my younger non-Christian friends have the same kind of scepticism about the left and social justice as my generation has about the religious right.
In my last article I talked about the emergence of a new conservative counter-cultural movement that has arisen in the last several years and one thing is certain about this movement; this is not the re-emergence of the old religious right.
What are some of the ways that the new emerging right is different?
They are much younger
In the past conservatism has often been associated with the old but this is fast changing. The fans of conservative internet stars are often young. Paul Joseph Watson says that he regularly gets fan mail from kids as young as 13!
Not only are the fans of conservative e-celebrities often young but so are many of the leading lights themselves. There are many rising YouTube stars who are in their 20s such as Roaming Millennial and Brittany Pettibone.
They are more secular
Given that younger people tend to be more secular it is not surprising that the new right is too. There is less association with religion and their arguments are more likely to be based on logic, reason and science than religious conviction or tradition.
For example atheist Stefan Molyneux who, although a bit older than a lot of other prominent figures, has grown in popularity with a largely young intellectual audience through presenting well reasoned and fact based arguments for traditional family values, small government and criticism of the world view of the progressive left.
People like Molyneux differ though from the secular left in that they tend to be sympathetic to believers and recognize the important influential role that Christianity has had on western civilization.
They care about the family and gender realism but not so much gay marriage
One of the biggest issues that the religious right has taken up in the past few decades is opposition to gay marriage and radical gay activism. However very few people in the new right talk about gay marriage. They have largely accepted the normalization of homosexuality in modern society and those who oppose gay marriage don't focus on it as a priority. In this way they are similar to the Christian left.
However they do care about the family. They see that popular culture often attacks and undermines the family and they are willing to defend it. They understand, often from experience, how destructive the breakdown of the family has been for society. But they believe the biggest threat to the family is divorce and the destruction of heterosexual marriage rather than gay marriage.
Quite a number of prominent new rightists are in fact gay or trans such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Blaire White. While they don't see gay marriage as a big issue they reject the victim mentality that many gay activists promote. They don't think LGBT people are oppressed in modern western society and are frustrated at the left's seemingly uncritical embrace of Islam, a much more real threat to the safety of gay people than Christianity.
While they reject traditional Christian morality on homosexuality they don't like how gay activists bully Christians and stand up for the right of Christian businesses to practice their religious convictions.
Although they are accepting of gays they believe in masculinity and femininity. In a confused culture that tells us that there is something like 78 different gender variations, people in the new right are trying to find clarity again in the midst of the post-modern mess. They want to figure out exactly what masculinity and femininity are and celebrate these gender differences. Traditional gender roles are recognized as a good thing that has value.
They believe fervently in freedom of speech
At times in the past the religious right has been involved in suppressing freedom of speech. In the 1980s they went to war with hip hop and heavy metal artists. In the 90s Christians picketed Marilyn Manson concerts and the result was that Manson's notoriety grew rapidly.
A similar thing is now happening with the censorship of the left. One of the reasons the new right is reaching younger people is because there is an edginess and rebelliousness in political incorrectness that appeals to young people.
They are anti-war
A similarity they have with the left is they tend to be anti-war. They are not fans of the George W Bush era that the religious right are often associated with and they reject western nations’ interference in the Middle East. This doesn't mean they are pacifist hippies though. They very much believe in self defence, gun rights and men being strong and willing to defend themselves, their families and countries.
As we see this movement grow, we need to keep in mind how this movement differs somewhat from traditional evangelical politics of the left and right. With that in mind we can seek to engage with them constructively.
Conor is from Adelaide South Australia. He gardens and mows lawns for a living and is involved in several ministries. He loves God, music, reading and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html
Conor is from Adelaide, South Australia. He has a history degree from Tabor College and has a gardening business. Conor has played in Christian heavy metal band Synnove. He is involved in Operation Canaan, a ministry that prays and intercedes for the music scene. He loves God, music, reading, traveling and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html