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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