Before this article begins I would like to make it clear that this is not an attack on libertarian Christians. If you’re a supporter of getting rid of government it doesn’t matter if your a Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Buddhist, Scientologist, Hindu, or Satanist, I consider you a fellow traveler. Some of my favorite Libertarian commentators — FreedomToons and Tom Woods for instance — are Christians. Oh, and I write for the websites of two very smart libertarian Christians. I just have a disagreement with one popular argument made for religion that I would like to break down.
So this is an argument atheists have dealt with quite a lot recently. Your arguing with someone about religion and you explain why you don’t believe in God. However, they inform you that even if Atheism is true, we still should reject it because that will lead to socialism.
Part of [the reason people support socialism] is pure stupidity & laziness, but I think the other, bigger part is the disintegration of the institutions that have given other generations meaning: church, family, local community. They see communism as forced interdependence where gov replaces God.-@conservmillen 12/28/2019
Christians should absolutely incorporate their religion into their politics and should absolutely legislate morality. All good laws and basic forms of justice are already based off of Christian values. Property rights, a noble Western value, are a Christian concept.-@LibertyHangout 1/11/2020
The only office which can truly put limits on government power is the local Church clergy. The clergyman tells the governor that he’ll face eternal punishment if he abuses this power, so the governor rules with virtue.-@danwolfgang 1/18/2020
Of course, few people who make this argument are actually interested in limiting government. Danwolfgang has even said a number of times he believes the Bill of Rights was a bad idea and supports adopting the much more authoritarian structure of the hardcore federalists.
Really, this is just a repeat of the old argument about mortality. “Even if atheism is right,” the theist says “we should still believe in God because without it, society would be amoral.” Or as Tom Delay once put it:
[Columbine happened] because our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup of mud.
That man was once second in command for the House Republican Party.
The appeal to morality argument the religious use to use fell apart rather quickly for a number of reasons. People who wish to do immoral actions do not look through the book of their religion to decide rather they should do it or not, instead they do the immoral action and look for justification in religion.
Here are some examples: During the time in United States history where slavery was allowed, some of its most vocal critics were the religious. John Brown for instance believed that God had sent him personally to the state of Kansas to abolish slavery. However, its most vocal supporters were also just as religious as its opponents. Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy, was a highly religious man. He was also the most vocal supporter of slavery while others — such as Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee — wanted slaves to be free but also believed it would be phased out naturally.
Move forward a hundred years and the exact same story is told with Civil Rights. Martin Luther King Jr. was a clergyman and a preacher. He was even named after the reformation figure Martin Luther — or at least his father was. And famous left-wing civil rights figures like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are also highly religious. However, Jerry Falwell first entered public light in the early 1960’s over a sermon he gave in support of segregation. The late Senator Pat Robertson (father of the televangelist) even said when urged by Eugene McCarthy to support civil rights “I’d sure like to help the colored, but the Bible says I can’t.”
One more example, lets talk about eugenics. The famous Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton wrote an entire book in 1922 called Eugenics And Other Evils criticizing the British Mental Deficiency Act of 1913. However, former president Theodore Roosevelt — who was also a devout Christian — wrote in support of eugenicists throughout his life.
I opened with that to make one really simple point, Christianity is not a monolith. Just as not every Muslim is Osama Bin Laden, not every Muslim isn’t Osama Bin Laden. In that same breath, just as not every Christian supported some of the largest crimes in human history, not every Christian was against some of the largest crimes in human history.
Now lets talk about religion and socialism. I already spent a previous post compiling all the evidence that religion has just as big of a factor on the left as it has been on the right.
- Former Mayor of South Bend and Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg used the Bible as a reason to increase the minimum wage during the first primary debate. He also used the good book as a reason to justify his pro-choice position during an interview with The Breakfast Club.
- Former Democratic President Woodrow Wilson was a highly religious man. He even said one of the main reasons we should regulate business is because “no one can worship God . . . on an empty stomach.” Of course, if you want to express your constitutional right not to worship God, you’re screwed.
- Former President Jimmy Carter was so religious The New York Times even admitted that he was partly responsible for the rise of the religious-right.
- Many Democratic Presidential Candidates have been highly religious — and highly socialist. These include Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, Walter Mondale who ran both as Jimmy Carter’s Vice-President in 1976 and 1980 and was the nomination in 1984, and former Senator George McGovern who was the nomination in 1972 and a candidate in 1984.
- In 2019, both Senator Sanders and Rep. Cortez argued in favor of capping interest rates. Sanders has directly used the argument that this is a good idea because most mainstream religions condemn usury.
Are all of these examples of Christianity limiting government? It seems like socialists are just as likely to use religion to back themselves up as are the social conservatives.
Now, to end, I wish to talk about history. Specifically, a fellow by the name Huey Long.
For those who don’t know, Huey Long was the Governor of Louisiana and later became a Senator from said state. He was also the populist/socialist of the early Roosevelt era. Many people wished for Long to run against Roosevelt in 1936, defeat him in a primary, and become president. He also almost certainly would have had Long not been shot in 1935.
Long was most famous for his Share Our Wealth program. The eight key points of the plan were the following:
- Wealth of a person would be capped at 300 times the average family fortune. Heavy taxes would also be applied to anyone who had wealth over $1 million.
- Annual income would be limited to $1 million a year and inheritances would be capped at $5.1 million.
- Every family would get a UBI — specifically, they would get a check equal to one-third of the average family income of the country at the time.
- Anyone over 60 could get a pension.
- Surplus food would be stored by government.
- Veterans would get healthcare benefits and a generous pension.
- All forms of education would be made free.
- All of this would be paid for by increasing taxes on the rich as well as through infrastructure spending that would raise revenue overtime.
Wow, this sounds like some combination of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang. Seriously, today we need three Democratic candidates to give us what one man gave us back in the day.
Here is a quote from a speech Long gave in support of this program. See if you notice anything:
God invited us all to come and eat and drink all we wanted. He smiled on our land and we grew crops of plenty to eat and wear. He showed us in the earth the iron and other things to make everything we wanted. He unfolded to us the secrets of science so that our work might be easy. God called: ‘Come to my feast.’ Then what happened? Rockefeller, Morgan, and their crowd stepped up and took enough for 120 million people and left only enough for 5 million for all the other 125 million to eat. And so many millions must go hungry and without these good things God gave us unless we call on them to put some of it back.
To anyone who thinks religion will save us from socialism, remember this man was only a failed gun shot away from being President. Long was open about how he based his ideas off of The Bible, specifically a very popular left-wing idea that Jesus Christ was a socialist.
And he wasn’t the only authoritarian leader who had a knack for government control of the economy during this time period — okay, fuck it, let’s talk about Adolf Hitler.
A good number of historians have claimed that Hitler was an atheist, the evidence for this is, well let’s just say sketchy. The only real evidence of this was that documents suggested Hitler planned on banning the Catholic Church if he won the war.
However, that would be a total 180 from how he acted during the war. Hitler made an alliance with the Catholic Church, who celebrated his birthday every year until his death in 1945. John Cornwell — himself a Catholic , to the point where he even published an entire book responding to The God Delusion — even nicknamed then pope Pius XII as “Hitler’s Pope.”
Evidence shows that Hitler was one of the few men in the Third Reich who truly, with every ire of his being, believed everything he said. He never had a Stalin style “unperson” of previous friends or some massive contradiction in his ideology.
Hitler’s marriage to Eva Braun was also a proper Catholic ceremony. This is despite the fact that only five people were present for the wedding and they all planned on killing themselves in just a few days.
But even then, it doesn’t matter so much what Hitler believed as what his followers believed/what he told people. Over 90% of the population of NAZI Germany were Christians, and Hitler used religion to justify his evil actions constantly.
I would like to thank Shane Killian for compiling these quotes. Here are some quotes from the pages of Mein Kampf:
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
. . .
The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God’s will, and actually fulfill God’s will, and not let God’s word be desecrated.
. . .
Almighty God, bless our arms when the time comes; be just as thou hast always been; judge now whether we be deserving of freedom; Lord, bless our battle!
And here are some quotes from his speeches:
My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter . . . In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish Poison.-4/12/1922
Lord God, let us never hesitate or play the coward, let us never forget the duty which we have taken upon us.-3/1933 (could not find an exact date for this quote)
God the Almighty has made our nation. By defending its existence we are defending His work.-1/30/1945
The banned book list of the Third Reich also included works that both:
All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Chrisitan religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk.
Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the fake scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism.
Here’s what gets me: All three of the commentators I listed at the start of this article have, on at least a few occasions, declared Hitler a socialist. Well Hitler was also one of the most highly religious rulers of that time period — and that’s saying something.
To put it simply, in order to argue religion stops authoritarianism you would have to argue that Hitler was some kind of libertarian superstar. As was Wilson, Long, Carter, and many others.
Okay, so maybe I’ve gotten my point across that religion does not stop authoritarianism. However, this article would not be complete if I didn’t also talk about the idea that atheism causes it.
Here, the examples are numerous. Joseph Stalin was an atheist, as was Mao Zedong, and was Pol Pot. All three were also communists, responsible for genocide, and all around evil. The idea according to many people — including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who wrote The Gulag Archipelago — was that men have “just forgotten God.”
But wait, how could it have been atheism that caused these communist atrocities? Ayn Rand, one of the most famous libertarians of all time, was also an atheist.
Stalin is a tricky character. It is true that he was, for a large amount of his life, an atheist. However, he also was enrolled at a Christian school in his youth and studied to become a priest in college.
Considering the men I listed above, am I really to believe that Stalin could not have filled a similar shoe if he had remained a Christian preacher? Remember, Lenin wasn’t some big friend of his — Lenin didn’t even want Stalin to become his successor, he wished for that to be Leon Trotsky.
Stalin was more or less a minor part of the Communist Party up until he gained power almost overnight. Someone like that, as previously established, would not be turned off of the idea just because of his religion — in fact, he might have been more likely to do such a thing.
Pol Pot was near certainly a Buddhist, not an atheist, so he’s out. And Mao — like Stalin — was just a power hungry person who did not care what ideology he had to use to get to that point.
Again, the issue here is not that people did not believe in God, it seemed like the issue was that they believed in Government. There’s a reason Larkin Rose calls the state “The most dangerous religion,” and why Shane Killian use to do a series pointing out how the arguments for God and Government are more or less the same.
As Christopher Hitchens once said:
Find a society that’s adopted the teachings of Spinoza, and Voltaire, Galileo, Einstein, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and gone down the pits as a result of doing that into famine, and war, and dictatorship and torture and repression. That would be a fair test. That’s the experiment I’d like to run. I don’t think that’s going to end up in a gulag.
The solution to this is simple, albeit not easy. Similar to how the new atheist movement got people to become atheists, we need a new libertarian style movement dedicated to getting people to become libertarians.
The only way I can promise socialism will fail is not with changing the position of belief and hoping nobody tries to connect the two, but with getting people to refuse to believe in the Earthy God known as the state.
We need a mass awakening, a second enlightenment, something that will get the average person to except libertarianism and anarchism as acceptable ideologies and bring them into public discourse.