As we watch the Republican Party engage in an orgy of greed in Washington it is important to understand where their moral compass points if we are to engage them effectively. Ultimately they will pay lip-service to Christianity but the reality is, knowingly or unknowingly, that the objectivist libertarian Ayn Rand is the lodestar for their worldview. Their Jesus-scented rhetoric is merely a religious cover for the dark, selfish philosophy that motivates them.
Rand promoted an unoriginal dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest philosophy which is now the foundation for conservatives, Republicans, and Libertarians today. Her beliefs are widely held by people who call themselves Christians while ignoring the grave differences between Rand and Jesus. And those who contend there is a significant difference between her teachings and libertarianism have yet to offer a logical argument to back up the claim. She is foundational to much libertarian and conservative thought today.
There are any Republicans who follow her or are greatly influenced by her but today I note only one.
Rep. Paul Ryan, who is in the center of power these days, was an open acolyte of Rand until he saw that her raw hate of the things his supporters viewed as good things (like charity) was not good for his career and decided to deny his fascination with her. Just prior to that he said: “But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” He said this in a speech honoring Ayn Rand at the Rand-worshiping Atlas Society. He also said: “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”
Ryan’s story and his love of the teachings of Ayn Rand is echoed by many in power today. So what did Ayn Rand teach? These quotes just scratch the surface of objectivist libertarian belief and can clearly be seen in the policies being put in place in Washington since the inauguration of Trump:
“If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.”
“My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.”
“The proper method of judging when or whether one should help another person is by reference to one’s own rational self-interest and one’s own hierarchy of values: the time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in relation to one’s own happiness.”
Can you imagine these words coming from the mouth of Jesus Christ? What a great foundation to build a healthy society on. Well, it’s a great foundation if a central feature of your society is a place called “Thunderdome” and issues are settled by a dog-eat-dog system of violence. But it does help us to understand the reason Republicans believe what they do, against all evidence that shows they are wrong, and against the teachings of Jesus. Seriously, if you believe the the things taught by Ayn Rand you are not a follower of Christ, you are a follower of Ayn Rand who believed that the poor and those who sought government help were “irrational,” “parasites,” “dishonest,” and “thieving loafers.” You need to be adult about it and stop pretending this has anything to do with Christianity.
Objectivism, to put it plainly, is an evil philosophy founded on the principle that property, money, individualism, liberty, and “self-interest,” are the most important considerations in any moral equation. When I began reading Ayn Rand’s works as a 16 year-old I was searching for spiritual truth and guidance. I was reading the works of numerous philosophers and religions. Between ages 16 and 19 I seriously explored objectivism and libertarianism. I was captivated by the implications of her objectivist philosophy. I, like her, venerated the individual and “liberty.” But the more I read and thought about what she was preaching the more I had problems with it. By 19 I had read almost every turgid word she wrote and had developed arguments against her evil philosophy. It is during this time I became an active Christian. The conflict between objectivism and Christianity became immediately apparent. Jesus explicitly taught against the selfish and self-centered things that Ayn Rand and libertarianism promote. I came to see that there was no reconciling the two. My chief complaint was that this was totally antithetical to Christianity. I expressed this to her in a question and answer session after a lecture she gave in 1978. She simply reasserted her position and assured me I was not incorrect in how I viewed objectivism in relation to religion. In the ensuing 40 years I have listened to and read scores of people trying to reconcile the two and, while philosophically interesting and intellectually convoluted, none has come close to accomplishing the goal.
Why have they failed at reconciling the two? Because Jesus commanded: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He taught us the virtue of selfless giving: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” – Matthew 25:34-36. The Apostle instructed that Christians were to: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” And we are told “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
This one paragraph, 100 words, totally demolishes the foundation of objectivist libertarianism and the political parties that find their essence in the evil teachings of Ayn Rand. If you are a conservative, Republican, Libertarian, or a follower of Ayn Rand the time has come for honesty. You, for some reason, like her juvenile and selfish philosophy. It resonates with you but you also seem to have an affinity for Jesus. Please take some time and think about this. We have a common ground in the teachings of Jesus. America needs you, your energy, your passion. But America also needs the the teachings of Jesus divorced from those of Ayn Rand.
Let’s travel this road together.