Nowadays the word Liberal is often used as a pejorative. Heck, I often use it that way myself at least in my own head. I am a moderate and probably spend about 40% of the time cursing the idiocy of the Liberals and 60% complaining and worrying about the Conservatives (It is too bad there are not more real conservative minds in the Conservative camp these days.). Of the two the Conservatives tend to scare me a bit more but the Liberals in total power would be just as bad in other ways. But the actions of the radicals on either side does not condemn the entire school of thought. This should be remembered by pundits on both sides in this age of attack politics.
Lately a radically Conservative group has taken over almost all the political voice of American Christianity. They have used their pulpit to propound, and pound in, their own view of history and how Christianity has influenced the development of the United States as a nation. The problem is that they have forgotten from just where in the Church all that influence came. Yes, it was those damn liberals. Every time!
In American history, every time the religious culture had a profound influence on society those influences came from Liberal Churches, not Conservative ones. The Conservative Churches in every case have held the line with the status quo through history whether it was regarding the Revolution, slavery, child labor, workers rights, racial equality or now, gay rights.
Yet these same Conservative Churches of today want to shine their halo on the contributions of Liberal Churches of the past.
This activity is not unique to Christianity by any means. A Radical Conservative Jew will spend much energy telling you about Judaism’s amazing contributions to Western society but will not see that his brand of thinking never produced any of it. Find any Conservative Imam and you will find a man eager to convince you that Islam has been an enormously positive contributor to civilization over the centuries. But remind him that his blind Conservative philosophy again had nothing to do with those periods of Islamic glory he polishes up for you to admire and he may take offense.
In each case, when religious and political power are intermingled, progress comes when the Church is Liberal and tolerant and only stagnation and decay when the Church is Conservative. It should be noted that Conservative religious thought can have great influence on society, but it seems to be chiefly negative. Witness the defense of slavery and the stances against child labor and civil rights laws. Witness the attempts at blind conversion of any people that are under the influence of the politicized religion.
Conservatism is highly successful at keeping the wheels of a society turning. But it has no track record for being able to grease those wheels or provide a creative inspiration for the people who are pushing the cart of civilization. Without a Liberal element in society, one with enough of a voice to smack the bosses upside the head now and then to moderate their actions, society is nothing but a slave camp destined to fade into the dust of history.