The Importance of Christian Thought for the American Libertarian


B.R. Merrick's picture

American Christianity is a phenomenon that must be understood deeply and clearly if one is to get along with living on this land mass. Every atheist, agnostic, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Deist, etc. must understand the sweeping and overwhelming influence of American Christianity, and how it impacts even the most minor details of one's personal life, if one is to live and breathe here. I can remember a great many good things about my religious upbringing, but the long-term effect it has had has been largely negative. I appreciate this article very much, and I intend on reading it again. However, there were some things that were said that I think deserve more comment.

First off, do we want libertarianism to be the foundation of "American Exceptionalism" as is stated in this article? Why does America need to be "exceptional"? Hasn't this led to a great many bloody mistakes, like the one we are forced to pay for now in the Middle East?

"Christian libertarians made exactly the same argument [the desire for all to act morally or immorally], but with the added proviso that the Bible contained the lessons that would persuade everyone of faith to decide to use their ‘freedom to act morally.’" Maybe I'm interpreting this passage wrong, but it reminds me of what I was taught in my church: We are free to choose to act right. When The Bible threatens an individual with unending torment, making the "opposite" choice isn't too appetizing.

"But that complacency was shattered in the fall of 1949 by two international catastrophes. First, the discovery that the Soviets now possessed the A-bomb, and presumably the means to deliver it within the borders of the United States, destroyed the illusion that America was safe from physical destruction." World War II hadn't done that? Why, then, were innocent Japanese children imprisoned in camps in Utah, a largely Christian state? As we now know, the Cold War was largely based on unreasonable fears. The Soviet system was bound to collapse economically. Millions of American Christians fell for the nonsense that the millions of individuals wandering around on the land mass of Russia were somehow dangerous. I don't think much of Soviet leaders to be sure, but American Christianity was a big booster to the hysteria, much like the hysteria over Islam in our day. What was that crap about "Love your enemies"?

"Consideration was also given to the proper application of the moral lessons contained in scripture to the just relationship between the State and the individual..." There is no "just" relationship between the State and the individual, much less a "moral" that can be proven to exist. Once again, the canard that government is a necessary evil, and that somehow it is negated when it goes past its "basic functions." God, how much longer must we suffer with this? The most basic function of a government is to initiate coercion by saying, "We are your government, and you have no choice in the matter." Death begins immediately afterward.

"The CFF urged a return to: the Gold Standard..." Why, when the individuals on this land mass want to play the great game of Monopoly (otherwise known as the free market), must the government come along and say, "You can't play the game unless I play, and I will not play unless I get to be banker. Oh, and I have a gun."? Why didn't "Christian libertarians" not see the perfidy of such an arrangement? Probably because they are conditioned to follow an authority, and because so many of the Founding Fathers would mention God time and again, why then, God must have created it all for us. "I may not have voted for him, but he is our president, and we should all..."

"Rowe continued the article’s explication of the importance of individual free-will by pointing out that the 'Bible is replete with evidence of free agency on the part of God and man alike.'” Like Genesis 38: 9-10, where God strikes a man dead for having sex with his brother's wife, and then ejaculating outside her body? Or the part about stoning faggots (Leviticus 20:13)?

"...[S]ince then constitutionalists (adherents of the ‘original intent’ of the document)..." The original intent of the document was, in part, to ensure the continuance of slavery. Another intent of the document was to ensure that the ruling elite and their posterity got what they wanted. The document was largely successful with at least two of its original intents. There is no such thing as an "unconstitutional amendment."

"The example of Jesus’ life was central to the doctrine of individual freedom because He inspired people to follow the road to salvation, and 'men with (such) faith gradually come to believe that God is just as much interested in others as in themselves.' With that realization came an understanding of the dynamic of Christian theology; that when mankind is guided by the Golden Rule in their conduct to each other, then they 'can no longer exploit and enslave his fellows.' And when they no longer desire to exploit one another because they do not want to, not because they fear to, only then can all mankind be free." This I largely agree with, and when people no longer believe in the biblical threats of hell for disobedience, perhaps they will no longer want to exploit one another, either. The Golden Rule is central to an understanding of individuality, and I think that The Four Gospels should be required reading for all. I don't agree with everything in them, since I no longer believe in Jesus's divinity, and I no longer believe one should be subjected to the idea of superior being/inferior being (part of the source of the problem at hand), but a lot of what Jesus actually says (not how it's interpreted by the various faiths, or even how some of it is interpreted in this article) points directly inward, which is where I would prefer every goddamned politician look instead.

The main thought that comes to me from reading this is that, eventually, the Christian churches of America came under the sway of getting involved in politics, and why shouldn't they? Most religions are softly coercive insitutions, which would undoubtedly attract the hardened coercive institution of government, and vice versa. A cancer that wants to grow is going to attach itself to whatever host is available. It is the love of or "need" for the state that so many Christians (libertarian and otherwise) have embraced to varying degrees that has led to the demise of libertarian thought among Christians. What puts it in your heart to coerce? Is it the superiority/inferiority dichotomy? Is it childhood hurt and pain? Is it belief in some eternal punishment, like Guantanamo on steroids? Get rid of it.

B.R. Merrick's picture

"'Christian libertarians made exactly the same argument [the desire for all to act morally or immorally], but with the added proviso that the Bible contained the lessons that would persuade everyone of faith to decide to use their "freedom to act morally."' Maybe I'm interpreting this passage wrong..."

Upon further reflection, I think I was interpreting it wrong. It now seems to me that the author was saying that using The Bible as a guide (selectively, as I advocate with The Four Gospels) may PERSUADE an individual to act "morally" (which is subjective). So I take that observation back.