Christians Are Finally Speaking Out Against Ayn Rand

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“…A “silly” and “bumptious” novel can have destructive and lasting power…and then it finds new life as a movie. Viewers beware because the new movie Atlas Shrugged is an adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel, which peddles a starkly anti-Christian philosophy…”  Chuck Colson on Atlas Shrugged.

The Pink Flamingo has been writing about Ayn Rand and the fact that she was terribly against Christians.  I’ve reached the point where I do not think a person can be a practicing libertarian and a Christian.  They two are incompatible.

Is Alan Greenspan’s libertarian philosophy responsible for our economic woes?

About the time Fortune was extolling Greenspan, I was putting the finishing touches on a book about finances for a major evangelical publisher. I included a chapter on Rand’s quasi-religious philosophies, and another that encouraged Wall Street to embrace a traditional Judeo-Christian ethic. I wrote, “Ayn Rand, like Karl Marx, was one more self-proclaimed prophet who denied the existence of a loving God.” I added this comment from a leading political commentator:

Libertarians have replaced Marxists as the world’s leading utopia builders.” I concluded that we would one day apologize to our children for what Rand had done to our souls, as well as to the political economy.

My junior editor removed the chapter on Rand. “No one has heard of Ayn Rand,” she said. But my senior editor reinserted it. He said he had never understood his family until reading it. It made him realize that they had mixed Rand’s strongly anti-government, unquestioningly pro-business, and individualistic worldview with biblical Christianity. Theologians call this “syncretism”—which George Barna calls America’s favorite religion. It’s a religion too many Christians have bent the knee to.

By the end of 2008, “Maestro” Greenspan was booed off the stage. Yet there are at least three reasons we should stay aware of Rand and her remaining disciples…

Second, Rand still has influential financial disciples like junk-bond king Michael Milken, Chris Cox, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission for the Bush administration leading up to the crash, as well as cultural influencers like Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, media mogul Ted Turner, and pundits John Stossel, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, who recently advised Christians to leave any church that speaks of social justice….”

The Pink Flamingo has been wondering why Christians are not speaking out against Ayn Rand and her disciples.  A few Christians are finally doing just that – and it is about time.

“...Our financial gurus continue to sing in Rand’s temple, using quasi-biblical principles to obtain wealth but disposing of God’s principles if the investment doesn’t lead to “productive achievement.” I’ve long believed that leaders of the Religious Right and our more popular financial advisers, who have attempted to harmonize their philosophies with economic libertarianism the past three decades, have been na•ve. Libertarians usually despise Christian social values, advocating the legalization of abortion, illicit drugs, and pornography while worshiping wealth. The biblical discouragement of unholy alliances should have named that tune as syncretism. But the angry white man of 1994 sings on at today’s tea parties. And his anger is still primarily over economic issues….”

Amy Sullivan, in the Swampland, wrote something quite striking.  George W. Bush declared that his favorite philosopher was Christ.  The far right, now, though appears to have rejected Christ, in favor of Rand.

Swampland

Chuck Colson is taking on Rand and her disciples.  Colson reminds us that William F. Buckley had no use for Rand and her philosophy.  He points out that Rand’s philosophy was about the idolatry of self and selfishness.

 

The Breakpoint

Colson is right on here.

“…A 1991 Book-of-the-Month Club and Library of Congress survey asked members which book had most influenced their lives. As expected, the Bible finished first. Unexpectedly, Rand’s most famous book, the novel Atlas Shrugged, finished second.

Fifty years after its publication and 25 years after Rand’s death, Atlas Shrugged is still read everywhere from college campuses to Wall Street. Given its popularity and its impact, Christians ought to be acquainted with Rand’s work and, especially, her worldview.

As theologian John Piper puts it, Rand’s work manifests a “complete rejection of a divine or supernatural dimension to reality.” The absence of God causes Rand to get human nature wrong as well.

In Atlas Shrugged and her other writings, Rand articulated a philosophy she called “objectivism.” Among other things, objectivism teaches that man’s “highest value” and “moral purpose” is his own happiness.

By “happiness” Rand meant “rational self-interest.” For her, “virtue” consisted of doing what “secured” your life and well-being.

Where did that leave altruism and self-sacrifice? As vices. For Rand, altruism and self-sacrifice represented a betrayal of what should be a person’s “highest values,” that is, his life and well-being. Similarly, justice would be possible only where you never sought for nor granted unearned or undeserved results, “neither in matter nor in spirit . . .”

But without altruism and self-sacrifice, how do people relate to one another? Ayn Rand says through exchanges that promote mutual advantage, what she called a “trade.” In other words, as if each of the parties were businesses, not people.

Rand’s inversion of biblical norms had predictable results: Scott Ryan, who wrote a book on Rand’s philosophy, called objectivism a “psychologically totalitarian personality cult that allowed Rand . . . to exercise personal power over [her] unwitting victims.” He cites, for example, the way she manipulated “her own unemployed and dependent husband” to get him to agree for her to have “an adulterous sexual affair.”

We’re not talking here about personal flaws or merely human weaknesses. As Ryan puts it, these abuses are “demonstrably connected to Rand’s own ‘philosophical’ premises”—that is, her worldview….”

Christianity Today

DID RAND’S PHILOSOPHY HELP BRING DOWN OUR ECONOMY?

One of the strange aspects of Rand is the fact that Alan Greenspan was one of her devoted disciples.  BB&T Bank distributed thousands of copies of Atlas Shrugged in schools through-out the country.  Greenspan based his economic theory on hers.  He felt that businesses and financial institutions had no need to consider their investors interests, only to make money.

Christianity Today

“...The one mistake Greenspan has acknowledged before Congress was thinking that our noble CEOs would govern themselves. In Rand’s utopia, demons exist almost exclusively in government and religion. Her one-eyed perspective could not see Adam Smith’s insight that people of the same trade rarely get together without conspiring against the public. So she, and Greenspan, would never have imagined the CEOs of mortgage companies marketing liar loans to selfish but naive homebuyers, while the CEOs of investment firms and irresponsible ratings agencies packaged these junk mortgages as AAA-rated securities to dump into our pension funds. She would blame that entirely on “bureaucrats and do-gooders.” Had she and Greenspan only understood what fallen humans will do for 30 pieces of silver….”

Christianity Today

Brent Budowsky wrote about Ron Paul and Ayn Rand in the Hill:

“...Dr. Paul has said he is a great admirer of Ayn Rand. So has Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), whose attempt to destroy Medicare might cost Republicans 30 House seats. So has former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose monetary policies, not unrelated to his admiration for Ayn Rand, did as much as anyone to cause the financial crash.

Ayn Rand, like Karl Marx, was a strong disbeliever in the values of organized religion, and Jesus Christ in particular. Ayn Rand, a fierce and aggressive critic of President Kennedy, was a strong disbeliever in the concept of patriotism that involves sacrifice for others.

At some point there will be a fierce debate on the right between the proud atheism of Ayn Rand and the proud faith of the religious right, and all of the policy differences these views create.

Ayn Rand believed in a Darwinian view of the world, in a supremely selfish notion of citizenship in which we are not our brother’s keeper, in which her greatest good involves the most selfish ends….I believe the great political divide today is not left versus right, but those who believe we are in this together versus those who believe in the selfish grabbing of as much as they can for themselves. America is not a nation of the superior versus the inferior; America is not a nation of elites who are elite because they are superior to the rest of us (though by Ayn Rand’s standards I qualify as one of the superior elites, a view I totally reject)….

…In Ayn Rand’s view, in Dr. Paul’s view, the magic of a marketplace that in many regards is mythical, will let the superior prosper and let those they consider inferior suffer, even if their suffering is from corruption of others.

I agree with President Kennedy, who asked what we could do for our country, and disagree with Ayn Rand, who asks what we can do only for ourselves and compared John F. Kennedy’s call to patriotism to, in her words, “fascism.”

Personally I stand with the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule and John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and deplore the politics of greed and self-interest and me-ism that Ayn Rand, and her disciples, represent….”

Did you know that Anton Lavey used Rand’s “philosophy” as one of the basis for his Satanic Bible?

“…“…Let me conclude this brief overview by adding that Satanism has far more in common with Objectivism than with any other  religion or philosophy. Objectivists endorse reason, selfishness, greed and atheism. Objectivism sees Christianity, Islam  and Judaism as anti-human and evil. The writings of Ayn Rand are inspiring and powerful. If the reader has not yet  experienced her power, try her novelette Anthem for a taste.  You will almost certainly come back for more…”

The GOP has been corrupted by Rand’s anti-Christian philosophy.

We the Party

 

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