Ayn Rand as Scarecrow (3)

Time’s Amy Sullivan (she is the religion writer who dreamt up the story that Republicans were drumming up Obama-as-antichrist rumors during the 2008 election) was also thrilled by Paul Ryan’s encounter with a member of the religious left:

These days, when people question a politician’s “morality,” they usually mean his or her personal behavior and choices. But an interesting thing is happening right now around the GOP budget proposal. A broad coalition of religious voices is criticizing the morality of the choices reflected in budget cuts and tax policy. And they’ve specifically targeted Ryan and his praise for Rand, the philosopher who once said she “promote[d] the ethic of selfishness.”

A broad coalition. Really?

It is, however, certainly a dishonest one. As its members well know, it’s quite possible to pick and choose what one admires about an author without agreeing with everything that he or she said. After all, there’s some pretty rough stuff in the Bible. Are we to take it that this posse of ‘progressive’ clerics has signed up for everything that is in their holy book?

But back to Amy Sullivan:

Across the street from the Faith & Freedom Conference Friday afternoon, a group of religious leaders continued the attack on what they now consistently refer to as “The Ayn Rand Budget.” Father Cletus Kiley, a Catholic priest, declared the Ryan budget “does not pass our test” of Catholic teachings, and suggested that supporters of the budget “drop Ayn Rand’s books and pick up their sacred texts.”

Who, I wonder, is Father Kiley to set “our” test? As for the infinitely patronizing suggestion that supporters of the Ryan budget should “pick up their sacred texts”, well, those supporters should just pause to ask themselves how much tax this church of Kiley’s pays and move on.

Andrew Sullivan discusses some of these issues here. There’s an enormous amount with which to disagree, not least his implicit rejection of the syncretic nature of Christianity, a religion that, after two thousand years, amounts to rather more than the possibly apocryphal words of its presumed founder, but this, in particular, caught my eye:

It seems to me that one of the core messages of Jesus was that his kingdom was not of this world. Politics is a necessary evil, but it is not a spiritual vocation. Between a life in the world and a life that is otherworldly, it is hard to see Christianity in a political mode.

I’m not sure that’s a distinction that holds up. Thus Father Kiley may believe that his agenda is spiritual, but it sure looks political to me…

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6 Responses to Ayn Rand as Scarecrow (3)

  1. John says:

    100 years ago, religion was generally associated with the political left. Now it is associated with the right, but that might not always be the case.

    Religious people are pretty conservative on social issues, but those issues have pretty much been won by the left. 50 years from now, abortion will still be fairly easy to do, gays will be able to get married, there will still be racial preferences, ect. The Republican party can’t really offer much to the social right here. Plus, religious groups lean left on immigration.

    In the past 4 years politics has mainly focused on economic issues, and on that ground religion doesn’t have much in common with the economic right. One can see this with the environment, too. A lot of religious groups want more restrictions on the economy for environmental reasons. Add the changing demographics of the West, with more Democrat voting religious Hispanics to the mix in the US, and leftist Muslims in Europe, and I can easily forsee a religious left fighting a secular right in the second half of the 21st century.

  2. CJColucci says:

    In a fight between Randites and Jesus-followers I don’t have a dog, but for far too long politicians on one side have been trading on the good will possessed by the other, and it’s refreshing — at the risk of mixing metaphors — to see people demand that they sail under their own colors rather than false flags.

  3. Narr says:

    John says “100 years ago, religion was generally associated with the political left.”

    And I say, really?

  4. Mike H says:

    This isn’t a fight between Ayn Rand supporters and Jesus followers. The Left just uses the very controversial Ayn Rand as a straw-man against everyone supporting any policy that could keep the U.S. from continuing on its path to economic catastrophe.

    The “Religious Left” is one of the bigger jokes anyway, the majority of the people in it don’t even believe in the Biblical god. They talk about the social gospel but if you listen carefully enough you merely notice the familiar refrains of academic leftism as it is taught in many of the country’s mainstream divinity schools. Ever met a Marxist lesbian with a love of Foucault who is training to be a minister? I have.

  5. Solange says:

    “Plus, religious groups lean left on immigration.”

    You have to be kidding me. I’m religious (Christian) and lean conservative on immigration and culture/society issues. I’m still undecided and a flip-floper on economic issues though…

    “A lot of religious groups want more restrictions on the economy for environmental reasons.”

    Environmentalism of the global cooling/global warming/climate change/overpopulation variety and the whole theory of evolution is associated with the left.

  6. John says:

    “You have to be kidding me. I’m religious (Christian) and lean conservative on immigration”

    Although plenty of individual Christians are to the right on Immigration, pretty much every time I’ve seen an organized religious movement, it is pro-immigration. The Catholic church is particularly pro-immigration. There are volunteer organizations whose pretty much sole purpose is to “help” illegal immigrants–make it easier to break the law. I’ve heard plenty of people say that deporting people is unkind and unChristian. I’ve also heard the argument explicity made that Hispanic immigration is a good thing because it lets in more devout Christian immigrants.

    On environmental issues it’s pretty much the same deal. Plenty of individuals are skeptical, but the organized movements are always pro-environment. I have yet to hear a major church group stand up against the Endangered Species Act because Man should “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth”.

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