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Ayn Rand Contra Jesus?

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In the wake of the release of the Atlas Shrugged movie, Ayn Rand's prominence in the culture has increased, and people who had previously not been aware of her are taking notice. Notably, Christian groups are now starting to point out the hypocrisy of Republicans who praise both Ayn Rand and Jesus. As Eric Sapp of the American Values Network puts it, "[The] GOP must choose: Ayn Rand or Jesus".

[Rand] said religion was "evil," called the message of John 3:16 "monstrous," argued that the weak are beyond love and undeserving of it, that loving your neighbor was immoral and impossible and that she was out to undermine the idea that charity was a moral duty and virtue.

An ad developed by the American Values Network

on the topic of Ayn Rand vs. Christianity

We wholeheartedly agree, and have long been arguing so. Though Rand herself was what she called an intransigent atheist—she was more for reason than against religion. The morality of Christ and the morality of rational selfishness are opposites. As we stated in 2009:

There is no way to reconcile an individualistic, self-interested morality and an altruistic morality of religious duties. Politically, this means there is no way to support both capitalist and religious policies. "The party of principle," as the GOP often calls itself, is currently governed by two sets of principles that fundamentally contradict one another.

We hope there is more attention brought to this issue. Clarifying what Ayn Rand actually stood for, and how it is contrary to the prevailing philosophies of both the left and the right, can only be beneficial.

For more on this topic, read our 2009 article, “The Republican Party's Identity Crisis”.

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Cross-posted from the multi-author UnderCurrent feed

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While the overall point of the article may be correct this quote is a pretty hamfisted misrepresentation:

[Rand]argued that the weak are beyond love and undeserving of it, that loving your neighbor was immoral and impossible.

Weak are beyond love and undeserving of it?

What I take away from much of my reading of Rand is that not many people are so far lost as to be beyond self-redemption. Many sympathetic characters are portrayed in Rand's works as people with a mixture of weakness and potential- what matters is which eventually wins out. Mallory and Cameron for instance are characters that she portrays as being weak but not beyond love or undeserving of respect.
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It appeared to me that this was not the author's interpretation of Rand's message but the one that found its way into the American Value Network's ad (which makes sense since they are fundie nutters). So that is the Christian take on Rand, not the POV of the article.

While the overall point of the article may be correct this quote is a pretty hamfisted misrepresentation:

Weak are beyond love and undeserving of it?

What I take away from much of my reading of Rand is that not many people are so far lost as to be beyond self-redemption. Many sympathetic characters are portrayed in Rand's works as people with a mixture of weakness and potential- what matters is which eventually wins out. Mallory and Cameron for instance are characters that she portrays as being weak but not beyond love or undeserving of respect.

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I think the best policy is to be clear about the nature of Objectivism. Any friends one gains on the basis of their misunderstanding will not last long anyway. Wanting quality over quantity seems like giving up something of political value, but I think it is value that does not last.

Rand's atheism might come as a surprise to some conservative fans, but I know folks like Rush Limbaugh acknowledge that fact and still quote her. Though some may drop her, I doubt the majority will do so. I see it as analogous to an Objectivist who likes some non-Objectivist intellectual and loves the way that person makes arguments about certain positions on which he agrees, yet fully realizes that the intellectual is not an Objectivist when it comes to some other important ideas. Also, it is possible that for every closed-minded conservative who refuses to read Rand on hearing she is religious, there may be someone who picks her up on hearing that she is not your typical conservative.

In the long run I would hope to have more of the potential Democratic voter -- future coast-based liberals -- read Rand and not go down the path they otherwise would. These are people who will make it to leadership positions in the next generation and the only long-term hope for the U.S. is to have this secular cohort peel away from statist ideas.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Here's an article that demonstrates how someone can can pick and choose components within Objectivism and Christianity, while rejecting it Objectivism as a whole, and claiming to accept Christianity as a whole. The author claims to have been convinced enough about Objectivism in his high-school days to have attended NBI lectures. Yet, in college he moved to Plato and then to Christianity.
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