Today is Sunday and many conservatives around the country will be making their way to church to worship Jesus Christ. But Christianity isn't the only religion that many of these folks practice.
At first glance, this new religion seems completely at odds with our savior. It is a system of morality "not based on faith" or emotion, "but on reason." In fact, the leader of this new religion has stated on many occasions that Christianity (and all religions in general) are parasitic weaknesses. "Man's highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness," the leader of this new church has said.
What is this new religion? It's the Cult of Ayn Rand. And this recent story illustrates just how far her catechisms have permeated our government.
When I told my wife that my post about her reading of Atlas Shrugged had received 71 comments, she chuckled. "Made some people uncomfortable, eh?" We've had a few conversations about the book over the last week since she has completed reading it and both of us are still completely befuddled that the over the top characters in the book are equated with reality. "People just aren't that stupid as Rand portrays them in the book," my wife commented yesterday. "They're just so unbelievable I can't understand why anyone would fall for it." If your entire ideology is based around anger, hate, and fear, well...
What I can't understand is how one can claim to be a Christian on one hand and a Randian on the other. The two are honestly mutually exclusive. Rand talks of enlightened self interest and Jesus directs us to be as selfless as possible. Somehow, the conservative brain has melded these basic principles together to mean that the government is forcing us to do things, taking away our liberties and destroying capitalism. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.
The one thing that does make sense, however, is the shared belief between Randians and those folks who believe in Republican Jesus that the world is constantly ending (see: Mike Lofgren's Apocalyptic Cult).
I feel that it is terrible that you see destruction all around you, and that you are moving toward disaster until and unless all those welfare state conceptions have been reversed and rejected.
That's Rand in 1959. 50+ years later and...we're still here. In fact, we've accomplished quite a bit over the last 52 years and have remained the leading innovator in the world despite Rand's cries of a boiling pit of sewage coming "soon." Yet guys like Paul Ryan, a prominent GOP leader and current fave of the Tea Party, insist upon perpetuating the lie that innovators (as in the book) are on strike. It's not just him.
"Every time you submit to a regulation, it diminishes your liberty," says Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, speaking just off the House floor a few weeks ago. King says he loves Rand.
"If you start to demonize a certain segment of your society that are the producers, eventually they'll stop," says Allen West, a Tea Party favorite.
Freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican, has read Rand's novels six or eight times each."It's almost frightening how accurate a prediction of the future the book was," Mulvaney says.
Accurate? Really? I guess Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Steve Jobs (just to name a few) didn't get that memo on the demonization and the apocalypse.
It truly is a bizarre world they live in and when folks like King and Mulvaney proclaim to also be Christian, I have to wonder if they were kicked in the head a few times as youths.Or, perhaps they skipped over the parts in the Bible where Jesus said things.
Actually, I wonder sometimes if I've been kicked in the head as soon as recently in comments when I'm told that it's simply "less" government they want (but can't really seem to define what that means specifically), not "no" government but then embrace this view from Rand, who said, in a question about taxes, "That's right. I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy."
So which is it?
In looking at all of this, there's much more delusion going on and it's much deeper than I originally thought. Leading members of the GOP think that our country is constantly being destroyed and that the last 50 years of astronomical innovation never happened. They also think that one can be a Christian and also be a Randian. And, as always, if you don't believe any of this, then you are a Marxist.
As Gandhi said, "The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear."