Why Ayn Rand is Paul Ryan’s favorite philosopher and a problem for some Christians

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"You've got a guy who is a rising Republican star, and who wrote the budget, saying he's read her books and Washington needs more of her values," said Eric Sapp, executive director of the American Values Network, which is trying to tie Paul Ryan to atheist philosopher Ayn Rand. "If you're a Christian, you've got to ask some serious questions about what's going on here."

  • Alyssa

    I think Mr. Richards has it right about admiring Rand for her views on money and capitalism, while rejecting her anti-religious viewpoint. Ultimately, these progressive Christians show that THEY are the ones not with Jesus, since they insist that the state has to be involved with charity, a primarily Christian endeavor since the earliest days of the religion.

  • LisaG

    The cuts come from programs that can be cut. Do Christian politicians ever think of cutting their own budgets. Jesus came to give not take, take, take. Lets challenge the politicians at every level of the government see what they can give back.

  • Jim T

    You can be a Christian and agree with Rand on political/policy issues. I’m a Catholic and completely agree with her critique of collectivism and the dangers of big government. Read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, too, and thoroughly enjoyed each book. I have also read most of the Bible as well and believe Jesus Christ is my lord and savior. With Rand, you don’t have to take the whole package nor should you. As to Eric Sapp of the American Values network and other Christian groups that lean left, I’m curious as to how they balance out the Democratic party’s open embrace of abortion as a human right. Seems more of a moral conflict than Paul Ryan’s budget plan to bring the country back to fiscal solvency.

  • Thomas

    This isn’t “true capitalism” it is crony capitalism. The Reagan Years
    butchered the savings and loan system with “deregulation” and the
    enviromental laws. Outsourced jobs to the over seas beacause didn’t
    want to pay local people decent wages for their work. The disaster
    in Gulf of Mexico was due to “deregulation”. This is also a “war
    economy”, people who can’t find jobs enlist in the military.

  • learning

    “Tea Party Republicans have embraced Rand’s writings, particularly “Atlas Shrugged,” which some argue foretells the Great Recession”

    1) This is over broad. Tea party Republicans are a diverse lot; it is inaccurate to say that they all embrace a particular right.

    2) Does Mr Sapp equally critique catholic who embrace Marx -another materialist philosophy with no room for God.

    3) A Catholic who is a pic and chose admirer of Rands economic ideas is preferable the a dogmatic pic and choose Catholic pro-abortion leftist.

  • 4stmichael

    But Heller, the biographer ..
    “Certainly you can believe that the state can’t do everything for everybody, but if you are a practicing Christian, you also believe that it is our duty to take care of the least among us,” she said. “And we know perfectly well from history that churches and individuals can’t do that job alone.”

    Heller, the biographer is definitely confused and seems to be pulling a fast one.
    Well, we do NOT know that perfectly well from history.
    That statement is factually challenged.
    We know perfectly well from history how much the CHURCH has helped
    people in every corner of the world, and as a matter of FACT are still helping today and are doing a better job than the nanny gov.
    From HISTORY we LEARN that the Church DID IN FACT help without government interference.
    Heller must be confusing government confiscation of money, with individuals freely giving money to help their fellow man.

  • Lilly

    First, Libertarians are not the Tea Party. They have their own party called the Libertarian Party. The Tea Party came up to oppose the Liberals’ Marxist problem. The Tea Party stands up for the Constitution and human dignity and human life. The Tea Party came up to put down the Marxists’ illusion that they had progressed beyond the constraints of the constitution and mathematics.

    Second, before any liberal gets all excited about the atheism of Ayn Rand, how about checking out Liberalism’s atheist heros – Karl Marx, Fidel Castro, and Mao. Ayn Rand came out of communist Russia. Liberals promote the culture of death and persecute Christians in the US because they are rooted in communism.

    The Tea Party rose up to derail all these grand megalomaiacs who desire to rule over not only the US, but the whole world. We have a crop of seriously sick and twisted elite in this generation.

  • Felix

    The religious left continues to believe in a fantasy where the “rich” have amassed enough wealth to give everyone everything they could ever want or need. The religious left somehow belives that this gives them the right to take whatever anyone has using government force and coercion. This has never worked, and has led to untold millions of deaths through mass starvation and murder over the last 100 years. They do not care that they are violating the very laws of economics and of nature that God had laid down at the creation of the universe. Of all the 10 commandments, coveting something that belongs to another seems to be a recurring problem. It is unfortunately the political philosophy of athiests and the religious left. Government now takes 2/3 of all the new wealth created every year. This has destroyed economic activity and impoverished our nation. This has not stopped our government from spending. What they cannot collect in tax revenues, they simply borrow or print. This has caused the dollar to loose 25% of it’s value in the last 10 years and 99% of it’s value since the creation of the Fed. This is a tax on the poor.

  • Grandmere

    When I was a young selfish successful entreprenuer, I was enamoured with Ayn Rands musings and philosophy. But as life went on and upon further study I realized Ayn Rands life was self centered, self indulgent and lonely.
    IT is no surpise that the GOP and Paul Ryan would align themselves with Rand’s hedonistic philsophy instead of the Compassionate and Merciful Jesus Christ.

  • Dan Bern

    As a devout Catholic, it’s a no-brainer.
    Pick and choose from Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. Like Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm”, they tell a story of what can happen if we aren’t careful.
    Be well-informed, embrace your faith completely and accept the teachings, then vote against the great evils. Abortion is THE greatest evil. We need social programs or people starve and die in poverty. When the people of this country have a greater respect for life and those who suffer, we will return to greatness. It is Rand’s philosophy that has led to the above evils and issues, along with relativism and consumerism. Turn from sins of selfishness to love of God and neighbor.

  • Learning

    But we do NOT need programs for the poor run by a corrupt and leviathan Federal Government that is populated by folks who want to ELIMINATE the poor.

    Programs are best run at the local level. Tea-partiers, Ron Paul and see this. Marxist liberals do not.

  • E. Leroy

    We don’t need Ayn Rand to know that the price of what government offers is paid with the freedom and hope of those who place their trust in the institutions of man. While the religious right has its failings, the religious left has a long examinable track record of “solutions” that fail those they purport to help. It was Paul who wrote to the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). In hitching their wagon to government, the religious left has insured that those who will not work are fed at the expense of those who cannot. They bring everyone down, with the exception of a presumed elite. That is the historical record and George Santayana’s adage about failing to learn from history is again demonstrated.

  • Ron

    I’m amazed at the folks who talk of “the selfless and compassionate Christ” who think therefore, that we can somehow throw lots of money at a government to empower it to become like Christ and dispense the love, caring, skills and coaching that’s truly required to help the poor. Christ’s many examples in the Gospels show that only devoted individuals can do that–not calloused bureaucracies laden with the thankless job of dispensing entitlements.

    Further reading of the Gospels show that Christ refused to get in bed with the government, or set up his version of an “ideal government” to realize his dream. Instead he sent out his disciples without funds, to do his work among those needing life-changes. Somehow those quoting Jesus as the mascot for big government,never seem to get to that part.

  • Jim T.

    Amen, Ron. You hit the nail on the head. People who transfer the compassion of Christ to the government are well meaning, but intellectually lazy. Limited government safety nets are fine in theory and can work for a while, but when they expand (and they always do), how does it help the poor if the whole country collapses from bankruptcy? They never address that issue. The whole Ayn Rand vs the Bible premise in the budget debate is a false straw man argument anyway. Because Rand, an Atheist, recognized the dangers of big government, that somehow means Christians should be conflicted about being fiscally responsible. Crazy.

  • Public Citizen

    “And we know perfectly well from history that churches and individuals can’t do that job alone.”

    A true statement, but not with respect to government programs.
    Organizations such as the Elks, Odd Fellows, Masons, and the various military fraternities such as the VFW have charitable endeavors as a core program. These activities have been attenuated by the interference of government bureaucrats attempting to “regulate” private efforts. The regulation is a thinly veiled attempt to claim this work as a legitimate government enterprise, while pushing the private [and more efficient] works aside.
    In an effort to expand their authority and power the bureaucrats have allowed the moochers to gain a large portion of the largess, while the legitimately needy often are pushed aside by those who are better able to game the system, increasing the cost of government funded programs and multiplying the levels of bureaucracy each program must support.
    Until the American People and the leaders of the various Churches recognize the true cost of government funded programs this will not change. The religious leaders need to open their eyes and understand that the secular organizations with a focus on charitable work are their ally and not something to be looked upon as an enemy, an opinion so many in the church currently promote.
    Government IS the problem, not the solution.

  • Time

    It is nice watching people try to parse Rand’s philosophy in order to keep what they like and discard what they don’t, but in truth you cannot separate Rand’s economic views from her religious views because, as with any philosophical system (or worldview), they are part of a complex and mutually reinforcing system. In the case of Rand (like Marx and others) atheism and anti-religious sentiment are intricately bound up with a materialistic understanding of the human person which necessarily leads to economics. If the material world is all there is, then economic activity takes on an added urgency as the primary means of reaching material happiness in this very material world. In other words, without her atheism, Rand’s economic theories would begin to take on a different hue, because she would have to consider an ethical system bound by something other than purely materialistic needs. Might Rand have been wrong about religion and right about economics? This is what Christians who accept Rand’s economic theories want to believe. But if you remove the foundation (atheism and materialism), the whole house begins to shake.

  • Noel Harshman

    You cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon refers to the acquisition of material goods; selfishness; greed; putting one’s self above others. If a Christian is intent on following Jesus, he or she cannot follow Rand’s philosphy. You can’t pick and choose what you want to believe from her anymore than you can pick and choose what you want to believe from the Bible. Believe it or not. Follow God or follow mammon in the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

  • Andrew Dowling

    What is the government? It’s the policies and rule of law of the society that houses it. I’m so sick of Christians claiming that to be Christian means to leave all care for the poor to ‘charity’ and take government out it it. We ARE RESPONSIBLE for the government. We don’t live under a Roman dictatorship circa 35 AD. If you think the government doesn’t represent you, you have something called a vote. You can also lobby for major campaign finance reform (opposed by conservatives) so ordinary individual concerns aren’t drowned out by those with wealth.

    Robust safety nets and universal healthcare DO NOT ultimately lead to bankruptcy. Look at Germany (which is propping up all of Southern Europe right now) or any of the countries of Northern Europe. General maternal and paternal leave, free healthcare, strong environmental and health regulations, but still operating within a market economy. You honestly believe Jesus would look at say Sweden and the US, and prefer the country where people lose their homes b/c they got sick and were unemployed? What delusion are you all living under?

  • SA Long

    It does’t take a Randite to endorse selfishness. If all Americans would sell half of what fills their garages and storage units they could pay for their own health insurance and that of their neighbor.

  • Ellie Dee

    Jim T has it right!
    Atlas Shugged, is a view of how cronyism in government, can use its power to pick winners and losers. Ryan stated that this book, influenced him in his choosing to study finance, and the economy. He never claimed to adopting her philosophy. And being Catholic, would tell most people, that his moral and ethical views would be obviously Christian, not atheist? One book quoted as an influence, does not a man make? Or we would have to make the claim that a entire generation of losers, was because of interest reading, The Catcher in the Rye?

  • gocart mozart