The Christian religion and libertarian ideals seem starkly at odds with each other. Christ mandates charity, and libertarians are quick to assert that this isn’t strictly necessary. Libertarians are political and Christ was avidly apolitical. Libertarians preach freedom and religion literally means to bind – one more thing that restricts our free movements. It seems as though religion and liberty have a semblance of conflict.
The first thing to be clarified is by way of negation. Conservatives will often cite religious reasons for their opposition to same-sex marriage and the left will often cite the same source for their support of some government social program.
Given that on questions of marriage Christ never opined on legal definitions of the promiscuous Roman Empire, nor did He take the opportunity to lambast their lavish spending programs when asked about taxation – He is of little assistance to the religious politician.
The second issue that concerns me is the return of the Inquisition – though in a much crueler and barbaric fashion in the 21st century.
Galileo found himself at the mercy of the Church for his scientific inquiry that arrived at a conclusion that was at odds with the Church, Aristotle, and the Church’s interpretation of scripture.
The return to the Inquisition is in the most recent Pope’s continued insistence that capitalism is an evil. The science of economics, however, has consistently concluded that capitalism amounts to the greatest destruction of poverty (and the greatest reduction of evil) that the world has ever known.
Yet the Pope continues, in the anti-scientific attitude established in the 17th century, to deny the science of economics.
The reason why I claim that this Inquisition is much crueler is that the first Inquisition only imprisoned someone for their intellectual disagreement and delayed the progress of humanity. The 21st century’s counterproductive condemnation of science condemns people to starve to death – a slow and very painful death.
Anti-intellectualism that carries with it evil wrought upon all mankind is no religion at all.
As the great communicator C.S. Lewis notes, the Bible does tell us to feed the poor but it doesn’t give us lessons in cookery. If a lower tax burden feeds the poor in a superior fashion to a high tax burden – the Bible doesn’t weigh in on the relevant empirical science.
The Bible fails to mention the appropriate corporate tax rate; it only says pursue the course of action that feeds the poor. If science suggests that this is capitalism, then Christianity has nothing to weigh in on for the matter.
In all of this, the business of saying no to theology and erecting its limits, demarcating its value, I do have something positive to say of religion with respect to liberty. Marx didn’t say in vain that religion is “the opiate of the masses.” Of long-lasting communist regimes, all were atheistic and all persecuted religion. If there’s one thing that can overcome the frenzy of a flag, it’s an altar.
Religion asks us to evaluate that which really matters and that which really matters is most certainly not the state. Its capacity to raise an inquisition is its capacity to inspire a love far greater than the state. Our divine pursuit of love and humility outweigh our despotic pursuit of captivity.
In the end, in the very end – which is religion’s main goal – I admire it. In spite of all the inquisitions, in spite of all the political agnosticism, religion informs us that we ought to pursue love and humility. These are the bulwarks – the fuel for a genuinely positive libertarian society – the humility to not rule over others and the love to care for them.
This post was written by Brandon Kirby.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.