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Jesus or Ayn Rand - can conservatives claim both?
Author Ayn Rand stands in New York City in this 1957 photo. Her criticism of religion outraged some, but her books remain popular.
June 29th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Jesus or Ayn Rand - can conservatives claim both?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Can a person follow Ayn Rand and Jesus?

That’s the question posed by a provocative media campaign that claims that some prominent conservative leaders cannot serve two masters: Jesus and the controversial author of  "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand.

The American Values Network, a group of political activists and pastors, sparked a debate when it recently released a video challenging some conservative and Republican leaders’ professed admiration for Rand,  an atheist who saw selfishness as a virtue and celebrated unfettered capitalism.

Eric Sapp,  AVN’s executive director, said the Republican Party cannot portray itself as a defender of Christian values and then defend the worldview of "the patron saint of selfishness" who scorned religion and compassion.

Sapp singled out Republican leaders such as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh after all of them expressed admiration for Rand.

Ryan,  architect of the GOP’s propsed budget and Medicare plan, once said that Rand’s philosophy was “sorely needed right now,” and that she did a great job of explaining “the morality of capitalism.”

Sapp sees little morality in Rand's worldview:

Rand said religion was ‘evil,’ called the message of John 3:16 ‘monstrous,’ argued that the weak are beyond love and undeserving of it, that loving your neighbor was immoral and impossible…

Sapp cited conservative leader Chuck Colson who released a video condemning Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” as a silly novel that “peddles a starkly anti-Christian philosophy.”

Sapp added:

Hard to reconcile leaders of ‘God’s Own Party’ praising someone who is about as anti Christ as one can get, huh?”

Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights in Washington, said the philosophies of Christianity and Ayn Rand are incompatible.

Jesus taught that people should love and serve others, including their enemies. Rand taught that people's fundamental focus should be on their individual happiness, he said:

 I don’t think what Ayn Rand advocates in 'Atlas Shrugged' and what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount are compatible. She’s an egoist and therefore an individualist.  Jesus is advocating altruism and collectivism.

Rand died in 1982, but she remains polarizing. The great recession has triggered new interest in her novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” The book depicts a bleak future where the U.S. government has seized control of private industry and discouraged innovation.

The book may have been rooted in Rand's childhood trauma. She was born in Russia in 1905, and saw the Communist Party come to power in a violent revolution. Her family was left destitute after party officials seized her father’s business.

She immigrated to the United States where she eventually became a screenwriter. She ultimately made her mark through her novels. Critics say Rand’s characters were stilted mouthpieces for her philosophy of  Objectivism, which insists that individuals should be driven by “rational self-interest.”  Still, "Atlas Shrugged" is now considered one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

Rand's philosophy didn’t say much good about religion. In a 1964 Playboy interview posted on the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights site, she said that religious faith is “a negation of human reason” and charity wasn’t a virtue.

Rand told Playboy:

There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.

Defenders of Rand say that a person can adopt elements of Rand’s philosophy and reject whatever clashes with their faith.

Yaron Brooks, president of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, also defended Rand’s philosophy in a recent CNN.com commentary.

He said while people call Jesus or Mother Teresa heroes, they should use the same description for people like 19th century oil tycoon, John D. Rockefeller and inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison.

Their pursuit of personal profit is a virtue because it enriches society, not just individuals, Brooks said.

Brooks wrote:

It is they, not the Mother Teresas of the world that we should strive to be like and teach our kids the same.

Elections, some say, are ultimately a contest of ideas. It’ll be interesting to see if those political leaders who admire Rand continue to talk openly about her philosophy as the 2012 presidential campaign escalates.

Or will they deflect a question I suspect they’ll hear again and again:

How can you invoke Jesus and follow Rand?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Business • Christianity • Culture wars • Economy • Ethics • Politics

soundoff (1,025 Responses)
  1. Randist

    God's Own Party?? LOL.

    GOP clearly means Grand Old Party, ffs.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Mehh

      No, it stands for Gay Old Pr-icks. They have to be dragged out of the closet but they're all in there.

      June 30, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  2. Page Trimble

    C.S. Lewis gave this analogy about selfishness. If you're a solider about to go on the battlefield and haven't cleaned your own gun and prepared it to fire but are worried if everyone else's guns are ready to fire but aren't worried about your own you'll die. This analogy was in reference to people taking time to spend with God praying and asking for forgiveness. You can't worry about other people's hearts but rather your own first. This is the kind of selfishness that is right and just.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      Guns and gos? Keeping up with the old test. huh?

      June 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • CM

      I get what you're saying. Good point.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      guns and god

      June 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  3. 3Dvizionary

    tthe next major turning point in the evolution of mankind will be the shedding off of our need for religion....if we make it to that point, we may have a future that includes a rational. global society... "man kind" what an oxymoron.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Sicko

      that is a good quote/comment.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  4. Tim

    Been claiming both for years with no ill effects – in spite of a lot of liberals telling me I am. Go figure.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • jcm52

      You've been claiming both, but probably not following both. No man can have two masters.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • B-man

      Psychotics hardly ever self diagnose.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Howie76

      This is a prime example of "Cheap Grace" where a Christian does not understand what the Bible means when they discuss gods grace. You obviously go to church on Sundays and ask for forgiveness them go out and commit your weekly sins, then back to church again.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Frank

      It one thing to claim it is another to try to live it

      June 29, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  5. TheAbidingDude

    Ayn Rand, like so many public figures makes good points about many things but falls short about courses of action and relationships with others. "The Fountainhead" her protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The general description is what I consider a good thing but Roark's vision was of efficient box buildings rather than the exquisitely breathtaking buildings that inspire.

    While the focus of Rand on individual integrity was spot on she had no vision of the synergy of art and inspiration perhaps because she saw people with dreams and inspiration as failures

    June 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • John Galt

      seriously? everything about roark's buildings in fountainhead was to be inspiring. can't believe you missed the point that badly. she also wrote EXTENSIVELY on art and inspiration. i recommend 'the romantic manifesto'.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  6. CM

    Actually, doesn't the Bible state that man cannot serve two masters, God and money? Rand serves money and Christians serve God. Where does that put Republicans?

    June 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Christian

      So, are you saying that wanting to decide to whom one gives the fruit of their labor is the equivalent of "serving money" as master?

      Are you ignoring the fact that taxation eliminates the "giving" aspect? You have no choice, according to man's law.

      Another angle; is man, under socialism and communism, making themselves God by applying man's own law against his fellow man, rather than man, individually, choosing whether or not to adhere to what God wills us to do, but does not force us to do?

      Man, under communism and socialism, forces man to give the fruit of their labor for the alleged purposes of feeding, housing and clothing the needy (but look how that is so out of control and so much abused). That isn't a process of charity in the least bit.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • GodPot

      I think they use this equation: Jesus = not sinning = living well = living comfortably = need money to live well so Jesus wants us to pursue money.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • CM

      I didn't say anything, Christian. I simply quoted the Bible and then asked a question. Boy, you really went off on a tangent, though!

      June 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  7. John Galt

    This is so simple. A religious person can be all for charity, but think that the dispersing of charity is the job of the private sector and none of govn't's business. A religious person can read rand's works on economic philosophy and agree with them because they are 100% accurate, and they can disagree with her writings on religion if they want, but the two things aren't related at all. It's kind of pitiful the left can argue with Rand, so they come up with this lame tact of 'aha!, you can't like rand and jesus both'. epic fail

    June 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Page Trimble

      Well said my friend. You took the words right out of my mouth. I'm a libertarian but I don't believe that anyone should have the right to abortion. Because I believe it's a baby. There are lots of different options...and people aren't robots listening to Al Gore talk about the government or Obama telling us our economy is doing great. We can see through BS.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • jcm52

      "A religious person can be all for charity, but think that the dispersing of charity is the job of the private sector and none of govn't's business"

      But that religious person is still in opposition to Rand. She says that charity is not the job of anyone – it is in fact harmful to do.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • WichitaThinker

      You are not a libertarian if you do not believe that a woman should have a right to an abortion. You are not a libertarian if you believe that the government has the right to impose its rules and laws upon you. You do not understand the philosophical underpinnings that make up libertarian thought. In short, you are a dolt.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • GodPot

      "A religious person can read rand's works on economic philosophy and agree with them because they are 100% accurate" That is like saying a Christian can admire the entrepreneurialism of a Madam but disagree with her on the morality of prost itution.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Anti-Rand

      It is not "charity" to provide for the general welfare of the nation. The nation is everyone.

      It is not charity to help one's self as a nation.
      We help Americans to survive through government programs. Rand didn't mind taking "free" money from the government herself, even though she spoke against it many times. She was a hypocrite who did not understand how the real world works.
      According to Randians way of thinking, if a soldier shoots his fellow soldiers, he is rewarded with their weapons and cash and he has "earned" this through his "rugged individualism".
      After he is strung up for being a traitor and a murderer, all the captains of industry who are also Randians can weep for the lost "individuality" of the soldier who shot his friends in the back and bewail and bemoan the terrible government and laws that stopped the soldier from reaching his "true greatness".
      Evil is as evil does. One has only to examine the "fruits" of the followers of Rand to see that they are evil and twisted, caring for no good thing but only being concerned with whatever profit they can wring from any situation, even the ones they deliberately set up themselves.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • John Galt

      Anti-Rand: It IS CHARITY, it's just government-forced charity. There is no such thing as a 'nation as a whole that helps itself'. A nation is a collection of individuals, and to give to some you take from others. There is no such thing as a 'common good'. And, as always, Rand's opponents attack her for things she never said or did. Her 'free money' was accepting the social security payments she earned by paying into the system for decades. Just because someone disagrees with ss doesn't mean they should refuse the paltry return on the 'investment' they were forced to make. Also, what is that nonsense about shooting a soldier? She was a staunch advocate of individual rights, which obviously means no murder. If you are going to attack her, try attacking her actual works. But you can't, so you won't.

      jcm52: you'd also be well-served by actually READING what Rand wrote. She never said charity is harmful to do. She just said it isn't a virtue in itself. She said if someone wants to give their time or money to a cause of their choice, they should be free to do so and that it's totally fine. Once again, people attack things she never wrote or said because they can't attack what she actually said or wrote. Epic failures, both of you

      June 30, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  8. name

    Rand wasn't very moral either. She had a very public affair with a married man. Not the best example for the Republican right if you ask me.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • CM

      She was just a Republican, not a Right Wing Republican. Huge difference.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • John Galt

      She wasn't a republican. My word it's amazing the stuff written on here about her that is totally false.

      June 30, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  9. J

    Ayn Rand's beliefs and words are taken out of context in this article.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • name

      Her views on religion were very straight forward. I don't see what the article is taking out of context. I'm nearly finished with Atlas Shrugged myself and the article accurately represents her beliefs both on altruism and religion.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  10. james

    Anybody who reads the new testament knows that the teachings of Jesus are incompatible with Ayn Rand, as well as incompatible with pure capitalism itself. Read what Jesus said, and it is impossible to consider him anything less than a socialist, or perhaps a pure communist. Those who claim he proposed anything resembling capitalist ideas are simply not reading what Jesus actually taught--or perhaps intentionally ignoring the core of Jesus' message.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Christian

      That is 100% incorrect. Communism and socialism eliminates charity and giving. It is no longer the will of the giver but it is the demand of the people who are sitting in power in government. Notice how quickly and easily those in government abuse their position and use these tax funds for self-gain.

      The key is a person giving and it be to someone who is in need, not an act demanded by force and threats of imprisonment. Very basic and elementary to see the truth.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Name:(required)

      Christian, if you don't want tax money going to places that help our country like defense and SS, then why don't you go live somewhere else? Go start your own damn country where all the money goes into your pocket and no one is in charge.
      Or do you expect all government workers to be volunteers who work for zero pay?
      The government has authority to take your money. It prints the money, you live here, and if you don't like it you can move.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  11. Sicko

    Everybody hit the "report abuse" button to the butterfly video. It is from a troll who posts it every ten minutes

    June 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  12. JOHN IN AZ

    Both Rand and the evangelical "Christians" are very much in need of enlightenment!

    June 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  13. Michael Mallon

    I'm not sure it would be strictly accurate to call Christ an altruist. He did what he did because he loved the human race and wanted good things for them in the future. It mattered to him how things turned out for us, so he had a vested interest in our morality. Likewise, when he instructed people to behave in certain ways, he did not say that you should do this because it's the right thing to do. The Gospels are pretty explicit about gaining the Kingdom of Heaven through good deeds, living according to Christ's commandments and treating each other decently.

    But if you do these things for those reasons, you are not behaving altruistically. Maybe you're doing it because it makes you feel good about yourself; maybe you want an eternal reward; maybe you would feel guilty if you didn't. Regardless, you expect something in return, and that defies altruism. Indeed, I have yet to hear a compelling argument that altruism is a real phenomenon at all.

    So at least in this regard, Rand and Christ are not incompatible, because altruism doesn't exist.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Just Saying

      idiot

      June 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Jim

      There is a large body of literature that mostly supports the idea that nobody is altruistic without the expectation of something in return but the interesting thing is that a small portion of people actually are altruistic without the expectation of anything in return.
      So you are about 90% right and 10% completely wrong.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Harry

      Her philosophy seems fine for an animal existing on natural instinct, but for a rational thinking human it all should appear intellectually lazy and selfish.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • WichitaThinker

      I think the point is, though, that the teachings of Christ stress that people should be altruistic. While in practical terms, that may not be entirely possible all the time, it is something that we are taught to strive for. Rand's philosophy is absolutely and completely opposed to that. Under Rand, you do not think of others at all about anything. You live for your own gratification only. It is very, very, very, very similar to the teachings of one Anton LaVey. My guess is that the politicians that claim they love both Christ and Rand are also huge admirers of Mr. LaVey's as well.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  14. Tom Paine

    I think Rand is a horse's ass. And Christianity does not have a monopoly on altruism or compassion. Blind faith in any dogma, be it Rand or the church, is evil. But I get the gist of the story: Conservatives who claim Rand and Jesus as their heroes are hypocrites of the worst kind. In truth, they only worship money and the power it bestows.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • lwatcdr

      As a Christian that goes to church every Sunday and does my best. I really can not say that Ayn Rand was an ass. I would say she as at best a very confused person. Her teaching do seem to be at odds with my what I know of the teachings of Christ. I did enjoy the book and the movie Fountianhead but it was a work of fiction and not a way I would like to live my life. For the most part I would say that I would agree with the spirit of what you are saying if not the tone.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • John Galt

      So the greatest political and economic philosopher the world has ever produced is an 'ass'? I wonder what she would think of your many achievements?

      June 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  15. Christian

    What is it that you see as inconsistent between Christianity and true, free-market capitalism? God's Word teaches people to be charitable. That means that you give a portion of the fruits of your labor to the needy (those who are unable to help themselves) and it is a desire to do so from within yourself. Having government threatening to throw you in jail if you don't pay up so that they can give the fruits of your labor to someone who did not earn it has absolutely NOTHING to do with charity, especially when government skims off the top of it and uses it for abusive purposes, anyway.

    Also, Christ, Himself said that if a man does not work he does not eat.

    You miss the entire point of charity. Impose man's law onto someone to forcefully take the fruits of their labor denies them the opportunity to even practice charity. Taxing someone and using the drawn money for the purpose of keeping a segment of the population on the government teat is hardly being charitable.

    How about pointing out who are the true hypocrites and liars. It certainly isn't the Christians.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      "What is it that you see as inconsistent between Christianity and true," Jesus is a prophet. God of Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, David, Noah, Jesus, Adam, ...all prophets is no one but God

      June 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Name:(required)

      Christian, I would love to see you injured and unable to work so that I could watch you starve to death.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  16. Reality

    Christian Economics 101:

    The Baptizer drew crowds and charged for the "dunking". The historical Jesus saw a good thing and continued dunking and preaching the good word but added "healing" as an added charge to include free room and board. Sure was better than being a poor peasant but he got a bit too zealous and they nailed him to a tree. But still no greed there.

    Paul picked up the money scent on the road to Damascus. He added some letters and a prophecy of the imminent second coming for a fee for salvation and "Gentilized" the good word to the "big buck" world. i.e. Paul was the first media evangelist!!! And he and the other Apostles forgot to pay their Roman taxes and the legendary actions by the Romans made them martyrs for future greed. Paul was guilty of minor greed?

    Along comes Constantine. He saw the growing rich Christian community and recognized a new tax base so he set them "free". Major greed on his part!!

    The Holy Roman "Empirers"/Popes/Kings/Queens et al continued the money grab selling access to JC and heaven resulting in some of today's richest organizations on the globe i.e. the Christian churches (including the Mormon Church) and related aristocracies. Obvious greed!!!

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
    vs.

    Ayn Rand

    "born Feb. 2, 1905, St. Petersburg, Russia — died March 6, 1982, New York, N.Y., U.S.) Russian-born U.S. writer. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1926 after graduating from the University of Petrograd and worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood. She won a cult following with two best-selling novels presenting her belief that all real achievement comes from individual ability and effort, that laissez-faire capitalism is most congenial to the exercise of talent, and that selfishness is a virtue, altruism a vice. In The Fountainhead (1943), a superior individual transcends traditionalism and conformism. The allegorical Atlas Shrugged (1957) combines science fiction with her political message. She expounded her philosophy, which she called objectivism, in nonfiction works and as editor of two journals and became an icon of radical libertarianism."

    June 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      The jesus drive towards having killed oneself does not set a good example. Clearly today one might say he came from a dysfunctional family, not the one the religious say. Likely abused.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  17. wwajdblogger

    Rand's philosophy and Christianity are absolutely compatible.

    Jesus, like Rand's protagonists, was a rugged individualist - for example, he camped in the wilderness and didn't wear shoes. Like Rand's protagonists, Jesus named his organization after himself, instead of something lame like "The People's Church for the Poor," or "Microsoft." Jesus, like Rand's protagonists, never accepted any slimey Roman government handouts, like welfare or food stamps. No way. He made his living just like any honest capitalist - he had people working for him to line up sleepovers and free meals.

    Rand's philosophy, like most religions competing with Christianity for dominance, simply rejects some of Jesus' weak-kneed beliefs. For example, Rand's heroes would never kick the moneychangers out of the temple; that's nuts, they should be left alone, especially by the government. And Jesus wasted a lot of time worrying about the poor and the powerless; it's their own fault they choose to live that way.

    That's why we need Paul Ryan's budget plan. I'll bet he can cook a burger like John Galt!

    http://www.whatwouldamericanjesusdo.com

    June 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      We were writing our posts at the same time. If you notice, The Fountainhead begins with a baptism... Roark standing on the edge of the cliff, preparing to dive into the water. The entire book could be considered a secular rewriting of the gospels.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Bruce

      Jesus accepted a slimy Roman government handout when they handed him his greatest victory and he accomplished his goal of self-destruction by their hands. Without them to do what they did in such a public manner, his self-destruction would have gone unnoticed. He NEEDED the Roman government to accomplish his goals.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Laughing

      Nice joke, you do realize though that just becuase two characters look alike don't make them the same? Not to mention a good capitalist does NOT organize people to work for him for FREE and have FREE meals for other people, that's actually the worst capitalist I've ever heard of.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      Jesus had no weak-kneed beliefs, and Rand most certainly would have had Roark kick the moneychangers out of the temple. In fact, The Fountainhead contains a metaphor for that part of the gospel. Roark performed Jesus' single symbolic act of violence when he blew up Cortlandt. The other architects had made a mockery of its form and structure, and so he destroyed it rather than let it exist as an abomination.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • KK Denver

      Who is John Galt?

      June 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      >> And Jesus wasted a lot of time worrying about the poor and the powerless.

      It's funny you should say that. Roark "wasted" a lot of time "worrying" about the poor and the powerless as well when he designed Cortlandt. He designed it specifically to house invalid adults. I'm telling you, Rand had the gospels covered.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Name:(required)

      The one thing I see very clearly is that Ayn Rand has more in common with L.Ron Hubbard in the matter of "followers" than Jesus and his "followers".
      All the pro-Rand rants sound more like "devoted" Scientologists defending their fake prophet than sounding like reasonable people discussing the pros and cons of some made-up economic theories.
      Why don't you people quit treating Rand like a religious prophet and start thinking for yourselves?

      June 30, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  18. Paul Ronco

    What most people don't realize is that "The Fountainhead" is essentially a Christian metaphor. The literary similes between Jesus Christ and Howard Roark are virtually innumerable. The book starts with a baptism, ends with a trial of a man who fights the establishment for standing up to his vision after all of his friends desert him, and culminates in a liberation and triumph over evil. Ellsworth Toohey is a metaphor for Satan. Gail Wynand is a metaphor for Pilate. Peter Keating is a metaphor for... you guessed it... Peter.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • budgiegirl

      Honestly I think you can make those analogies – and you have a point – but I don't think that was Ayn's intent. I think Roark was her ideal MAN but not meant to be Christ-like. Yes Toohey was pure evil, so sure make a Satan analogy. But I don't think she set out to make those analogies. I just think she wrote in absolutes, very much like religion. But her message was not one of Christianity. In fact, Roark would not want to be worshipped, and he certainly would not die for anybody elses sins. You can't really make that argument I don't think....

      June 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      >> Honestly I think you can make those analogies – and you have a point – but I don't think that was Ayn's intent.

      There are simply too many similarities between The Fountainhead and the Christian gospels for it to have been coincidence, and even if it started out as coincidence, Rand would have quickly realized what she was doing. The differences you point out between Roark and Christ are the differences between mysticism and secularism. I never said Rand was attempting to be mystical. I said that she was applying the gospels secularly, hence, the differences between Christ and Roark that you point out.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      >> In fact, Roark would not want to be worshipped, and he certainly would not die for anybody elses sins.

      Christ never asked to be worshiped, either. He got this message across when he washed the feet of his disciples. He was simply the Son of God and expected people to respect him for that fact, just as Roark proclaimed to be an architect and expected people to respect him for that fact. Surprise surprise... they didn't. You're right, Roark would not have died for another's sins. However, we can be clear that he would have died both for the woman he loved as well as for his loyalty to his vision.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • budgiegirl

      my vote – roark would die for his work but not for dominique.
      not that it matters much – but while we were on the topic 🙂

      June 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      >> my vote – roark would die for his work but not for dominique.

      No way. Not after all that crap he put up with from her... one marriage after another. Theirs was true love.

      Find me on Facebook, Fountainhead lurker. I'm the Virginia version.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  19. MissouriBoy

    The GOP that says Ayn Rand and Jesus are compatible, are the same ones that had the signs "Keep your big government hands off my Medicare". They are so ignorant, they do not see the obvious dis-connect in their own views.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  20. budgiegirl

    Ayn Rand would vomit if she heard this discussion. Rand's whole point was that you must firmly believe in yourself (not a higher power); you must be the master of your skills and not sit there and wait for God to provide all the anwers for you. She did not believe in attributing all success to God and Jesus Christ. She was the opposite. A real man (or woman) would rely on themselves and no one else for their own achievements. It was not arrogance, but she did not believe in humility. It was the good kind of "selfishness" that she espoused.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      The Fountainhead is a Christian metaphor. If Rand did not believe in God personally, then as a Russian immigrant she certainly understood the power of the gospel's messages and inundated the work with secular versions of the gospel's teachings. The Fountainhead could essentially be considered a secular rewriting of the gospels.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • budgiegirl

      @Paul – The point you raise is truly a separate debate – about whether morality is derived from the Bible or vice versa – but the key word you use in your post is Secular. She is so secular – and one of my favorite passages in the fountainhead is near the last paragraph, where Roark and Dominique rise above the crappy buildings, and the CHURCHES, to get up into the clear sky- her point being – that religion is just one more thing that needs to be transcended for man to succeed.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • KK Denver

      The "Virtue" of selfishness

      June 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Bubba

      ATLAS SHRUGGED is the only thing I've read, and I flipped through it quick because it was a boring polemic. But my impression was that she would happily own slaves if she could, and beat them every day. If you want to base your life on a novelist's work, you'd be better off with Joe Haldeman than Ayn Rand.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • budgiegirl

      Hi Bubba,
      Thank you for the Author recommendation – which i will check out – always looking for something good. However I MUST BEG you to read the Fountainhead. First – SO MUCH better than Atlas Shrugged – not so dragged out, and not so over the top. Also, I think her philosophy is much more fascinating b/c it celebrates the achievements of the individual. It is not so nutso-capitalism. Frankly, I think it is a liberal treatise about individuality, in contrast to Atlas Shrugged, where she just goes a little crazy against socialism.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • John Galt

      Bubba – you should have read it rather than flipped through it (and i doubt you even did that). for in atlas and in other rand works she puts forth the most eloquent and reasoned arguments against slavery ever written.

      you are an epic fail in this thread

      June 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Paul Ronco

      I agree with budgiegirl... there is a lot of focus on Atlas Shrugged these days... but in my opinion it is inferior to The Fountainhead. If you want to understand Ayn Rand, Fountainhead is THE work to read first.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Bubba

      budgie, Robert Heinlein was often guilty of making finely-reasoned arguments for stuff he thought was dead wrong, and people mistake STARSHIP TROOPERS or STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND for his own personal beliefs. ST is all about a society where only veterans are allowed to vote, and half the book is people arguing about that. Plenty of authors write things as intellectual exercise, so you can't always assume they believe what the book says.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Bubba

      "John Galt," I wasn't really interested. I read good books all the time and that one was a stinker. How is it a 'fail' to say I didn't like it, and why should I listen to someone calling himself "John Galt" anyway? Obviously it's a Bible to you, and that's an objectivity fail.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • John Galt

      Bubba- It was a fail to say your main impression of Atlas was that Rand would be pro-slavery when, as I clearly stated, she has written the most eloquent and comprehensive anti-slavery works ever, many of which are in Atlas. I wouldn't have said anything if you merely said you didn't like it, but you attributed things to her work that are directly contradicted IN THAT VERY WORK you were referencing. That is an epic fail.

      And I called myself John Galt here simply because that is apparently my role here. To explain her writings to people, like you, that obviously haven't read them or don't comprehend them. And I can obviously do so objectively. Once again, epic fail.

      June 30, 2011 at 11:01 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.