I’m running through this logic — though it isn’t very earthshattering or groundbreaking — because of one thing that does seem to get lost in the shuffle: moving in the direction I’ve insinuated doesn’t necessarily mean that "conservatives" should throw religion under the bus. The move I’m envisioning, in fact, is a twofer: more overtly religious talk outside of politics and more talk about other things inside it.To me this cuts to the essential problem with social conservatism in general. With the rise of the Christian Coalition, Christianity and morality and all these other personal questions became very politicized. But they became politicized essentially to self-perpetuate. The social conservative movement has fought all sorts of obscure battles over things like the Ten Commandments being set outside courthouses; a long and bitter battle over abortion that has done little to find any semblance of compromise but rather has incensed partisanship; and now the futile gay marriage debate.
Social conservatives do need to take religion out of politics--for religion's sake if nothing else. Start showing, not just telling. Start pushing for smart social programs that encourage strong families. Push for stronger educational programs. Work to clean up cities and bolster infrastructure. Join the new urbanist movement and start working for cleaner, greener, and more walkable, neighborly towns. People can't have other people's values force fed to them, but they can wander into the idyllic situation to adopt those values. Safer, warmer towns will encourage community building. Stronger safety nets , incentives for stay-at-home parents, reasonable health care proposals--essentially actual compassionate conservatism--these will all do more to actually help your fellow man than simply trying to legislate your brand of morality.
This nation is founded on separation of Church and State to protect both institutions from one another. We do, however, have the Western tradition wound up pretty tight in our form of Government, and that includes many Christian ideals. It's high time social conservatives accepted this separation, and looked for creative ways to live their message, inspire others, and get rid of this partisan message that has begun to divide the GOP. No, they're not the only ones to blame for the split, but they're part of it.