If there’s one thing that can overcome the frenzy of a flag, it’s an altar – Freedom Philosophy

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.

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Brandon Kirby

Brandon Kirby is a philosopher, financial adviser, a founder of a local investment club, and he hosts regular symposiums in philosophy. He is also a member of Canada’s Libertarian Party.
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  • Matt

    The “science of economics.” Economics is hardly a science, but rather a series of mathematical models based on some interesting assumptions about the nature of human beings, which are more the thought experiments of a few individuals rather than a consensus about who we really are. As such, how much of economics is self-confirmed? Because we never hear any other theory other than those born from the neo-classical school, we assume them to be correct. This is manipulation at its finest.

    Capitalism, while useful in creating wealth, is a system based on accumulation. Since that which is to be accumulated, capital, is inherently limited (whether natural resources or the fiat money we pass around as something actually valuable), capitalism actually creates a false sense of scarcity. The world is bountiful and abundant, if we manage it correctly (i.e. in a way other than how we do now) Some of the logic behind capitalism, such as specialization, can certainly be given credit for some of the advances we have seen, and this, along with consumer-choice driven production should certainly be continued, but to say capitalism has led to the greatest reduction in poverty (and subsequently evil, as if being poor was somehow inherently evil) is a rather misguided claim. I recommend you take some time to travel to the post-colonial states of Africa, Asia and Latin America and tell me how well capitalism has done for those people, and not just the entrenched elites that benefited from a European desire to install legitimate power structures (there are lots of empirical studies done on the rising inequality in developing countries and how this genuinely degrades human life as it creates bifurcated societies where significant portions of the population are denied substantial freedoms—the work of Amartya Sen on entitlements from 1981 should help illustrate some of this).

    Now, do not take this as an argument for socialism either, as history has told us that does not work, and I agree with many of the sentiments Libertarians proclaim about the predatory nature of most welfare states, but the fact the only alternative we know to capitalism does not work does not mean we should blindly accept what we have as the best we can do. Science is not neutral, not even economics, if you can call it a science, and this idea is something you touch on in this article—there were scientists who helped silence Galileo by going along with the church.

    Capitalism is an onslaught against the rules of nature. It proclaims unlimited growth and the perennial indulgence of human desire. If you read this, you’ll likely dismiss my claims, our delusory belief in capitalism, and the idea material wealth can bring true prosperity, is one of our most engrained conventions, but I recommend you read the work of E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, as he outlines far more eloquently some of the claims I am trying to make here.
    Feel free to respond. I am always open to a healthy debate.

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