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My Take: Christianity and Ayn Rand's philosophy are 2 distinct religions
Ayn Rand's book "The Fountainhead" and the Bible.
August 15th, 2012
11:29 AM ET

My Take: Christianity and Ayn Rand's philosophy are 2 distinct religions

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Now that one of the Republican Party’s least ideological men (Mitt Romney) has christened one of the GOP’s most ideological men (Paul Ryan) as his running mate, Ayn Rand is back in the news.

Ryan, who used to give away Rand’s novel "Atlas Shrugged" for Christmas, once described this Russian-born preacher of heroic individualism as "the reason I got into public service.” “There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism," he told the pro-Rand Atlas Society in 2005, "than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works."

Ryan’s religious conservatism obviously distinguishes him from Rand, an atheist who despised efforts by Ronald Reagan and others to marry church and state. And recently Ryan has tried to distance himself from her.

In an April interview with the National Review, he rooted his controversial budget plan, not in Rand’s laissez-faire philosophizing, but in Catholic values. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he said. “Give me Thomas Aquinas.”

Which makes me wonder just how these two influences on Ryan stack up against one another. Is it possible to love Aquinas and Rand at the same time? About as possible as loving God and mammon since Christianity and Randism are, in my view, two competing religions.

I know that Rand was an atheist, so it may seem like a stretch to call Randism a religion. But there are plenty of religions (Buddhism, for example) that have rejected God. And like Christianity, Randism has its founder, its scriptures and its miracles (since in the Gospel of Ayn Rand there isn't anything laissez-faire capitalism and its secular saints cannot do).

Randism also has its committed devotees, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and conservative talk-show hosts Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, not to mention the myriad commenters (see below) who will no doubt object to my efforts to brand her atheism a religion.

Here are five big differences I see between the  theologies of Christianity and Randism:

1. Jesus preached the virtue of selflessness; Rand wrote a book called "The Virtue of Selfishness" (1964). Altruism is evil, she argued, and egoism the only true ethics.

2. The Apostle Paul called the love of money the root of all evil. Rand wore a dollar sign brooch and saw to it that a florid dollar sign stood guard by her casket at her funeral. She also put a love letter to the almighty dollar on the lips of one of her "Atlas Shrugged" heroes, copper magnate Francisco d’Anconia (a speech Ryan has said he returns to repeatedly when pondering monetary policy). There d’Anconia calls money “the root of all good."

3. “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke. And he says in the Gospel of Matthew that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” In the Gospel according to Ayn Rand, however, it is the “traders” (“job creators” in modern parlance) who like Atlas carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, while the poor are denounced as “moochers” and “looters."

4. The hope of the Christian gospel is the kingdom of God, but Rand's objectivist philosophy opposes "collectivism" at every turn. “Man - every man - is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake,” the inventor John Galt proclaims in "Atlas Shrugged," “and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.”

5. The ultimate concern of Christianity is God. The ultimate concern of Randism is the unfettered freedom of the individual. While the Christian Trinity comprise the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Rand’s Trinity is I, me, mine.

For years, Ryan and other conservative Republicans have been trying to have their Jesus Christ and their Ayn Rand,  too. But the two clash at least as much as an Obama/Ryan ticket.

Conservative icon William F. Buckley rightly recognized this fundamental incompatibility, running a blistering review of "Atlas Shrugged"in his National Review and denouncing that novel himself in a Charlie Rose interview as "a thousand pages of ideological fabulism.”

Evangelical leader Chuck Colson was equally critical, referring to Rand’s “idolatry of self and selfishness” as “the antithesis of Christianity.”

To his credit, Ryan seems to be acknowledging the gap between Randism and Christianity by attempting in recent months to distance himself from an intellectual mentor and emphasizing instead the Catholic roots of his budget plan.

But as Jesus once said, “By your fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16), and I for one still see much more Rand than Jesus in Ryan’s Robin Hood budget.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this piece said that Jesus called the love of money the root of all evil. The statement should have been attributed to the Apostle Paul.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Christianity • Economy • Paul Ryan • Politics • United States

soundoff (1,069 Responses)
  1. jdoe

    The author is wrong about Buddhism. It does not reject God. It simply has no say about the matter, and it is up to the individual to find out or decide for themself.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  2. QS

    In essence, the conservative philosophy that is loosely based on Rand is – wealth = morality.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  3. William Demuth

    Relativism trumps objectivism.

    Rand seem to believe in "truths" being relative to the experiencer and doesn’t seem to often address the concept that someone can be wrong unequivocally

    It is my experience that truth is ALWAYS relative and never objective when I disagree and is ALWAYS objective, and never relative when I agree.

    We are human. Not only do we want it both ways, we actually SEE it both ways.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I see. Thank you William. The tricky part is getting society to agree on these relative standards.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  4. J. Davis, Knoxville, TN

    Ryan's parish priest and/or Bishop needs to have a discussion with him about the true meaning of Catholicism–concern for the poor, a community approach, dedication to promoting justice, and treating everyone like a true human being.
    However, I will say, as a Catholic, that I don't appreciate Catholic Bishops telling us who to vote for. Believe me they will be telling lay Catholics to vote Romney/Ryan solely on the basis of the pro-life issue.
    The Bishops' view of pro-life normally extends only to the womb. My view of pro-life is that you respect the entire human life – birth to death. This is what my priest taught me. AND, I'm voting OBAMA/BIDEN regardless of what any Catholic Bishop says! Democrats are much more atune to middle and lower class needs–Romney wouldn't help a fly, nor would Ryan. To take away someone's social security or Medicare is totally non-pro-life in my view. We need a safety net in this country! I always tell my friends that just because someone says they are pro-life doesn't mean they really are pro-life. For example, how could Bush/Cheney be considered to be pro-life when they sent all those young Americans to Afghanistan and Iraq to be killed in a false and useless war. I have never and will never vote for a Republican!
    Yellow Dog Democrat in Knoxville, TN (a Republican state for sure–I am in the minority)! Tennesseans wonder why the state is so behind is many areas (like Education)–it is because Republicans control this state. Wise up everyone.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Chuck

      There is nothing in either of their platforms that takes ANYTHING away. They are offering options. Leaving things the way they are, while very noble, will lead to bankruptcy. The US HAS to have a balanced budget. I disagree with the R/R Team on a lot of things the same way I disagree with the O/B Team on things. The fact of the matter is that what we are doing is unsustainable. In truth I fear that neither team will be able to do anything to fix anything.

      August 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  5. BucketDrop

    Time for a shallow complaint instead of all this arguing. Randism? Is that really a word? Isn't the word "Objectivism" enough for this topic? Why does any philosophical or religious discussion have to ad "ism" to everything. Perhaps we should start saying we enjoy blogism and contributing comments as a form of commentism on CNN. Maybe the obsessive checking of news sites could be called CNNism. Since we are all members of the rantism community, we should understand this shallow complaint.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Ruby

      Sounds like complaintism to me.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  6. dr.kno

    After reading this article carefully, I am not convinced that Stephen Prothero has read Ayn Rand or the Bible.

    If he did he missed the point of both.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Ruby

      I agree, his words sound like someone quoting what someone else told him those books say.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  7. Hillcrester

    Ayn Rand was a self -acknowledged atheist. That is simply historical fact. Ryan's infatuation with Randism isn't the only contradiction he needs to account for, however.

    How can he be in favoriif BOTH a balanced budget amendment (and of course against raising the debt ceiling) while at the same time backing a tax and budget plan that BY HIS ADMISSION will keep the budgetb n defucit until "the early to mid 2020's" (his own words), which of course requires raising the debt ceiling.

    For an admittedly smart person, he seems to be oblivious to that contradiction. Or maybe he just hopes voters will be???

    August 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  8. tom evans

    Ayn Rand would not be at all surprised that the media is so critical of her philosophies. After all, in her novels the media is very critical of the characters that express these points of view. Religion and politics is about telling people what to think and do. That's pretty difficult if this person was taught to think as an individual. And this individual may very well choose to dedicate his life to others. Ayn Rand wouldn't have a problem with this as long as it was the individual's decision, not something forced upon him by a religion or government that emphasizes a group mind that is controlled by government or religious leaders.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  9. Ryan

    I dont't see a lot of incompatibility unless you are a person who believed Jesus taught forcing the good on others (He did not), It all comes down to the baby in the gutter scenario. If a baby was in a gutter and the only way to save the baby was to force an unwilling man at gunpoint to help. Yes! It is horrible that the man won't help the baby from his own will, but it is even more evil to force him against his own will to save the baby. And yes, if I decide to not pay for Medicare, people with guns would come to my house...

    August 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • BucketDrop

      Wow, that is messed up. You are saying forcing someone to save someone else's life is evil? You weigh a temporary imposition on liberty above the life of another person? Wow.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bucketdrop: good point, Bucketdrop. So is that your position on abortion, too?

      August 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Any act imposing ones will on another is immoral.

      Suppose the death of one might save a dozen, is his death acceptable?

      What of the death of a thousand to save a billion?

      The only obligation we have to others are those we accept willingly. To compel one into accepting your vision of morality is tyranny.

      Persuasion, perhaps even collective peer pressure, but never compulsion, because compulsion requires a threat for lack of compliance.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Russ

      @ William Demuth: you said: "any act of imposing one's will on another is immoral."

      so you don't believe in prisons or police or even legislation for that matter?
      what about parenting? just let the kids do whatever they want?

      August 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • shraeve

      That is an extremely unlikely scenario in the real world. Ayn Rand's philosophy was created for the real world.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • William Demuth

      That is not what I said.

      Immorality is a means to an end. If society uses these tools against you and I vicariously gain from it I approve. If not I disaprove.

      We are all at the end of the day, merely squirrels looking for a nut

      August 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • William Demuth

      shraeve

      Testing the world population for a specific disease and killing all the infected can wipe out most diseases.

      If I agree on the morality of this is dependent on if I am infected or not.

      Relativisim is ALWAYS dominate. Rand's philosophy was designed for a dream world, she avoided many areas of obvious conflict and WAY over simplified!

      August 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Russ

      @ William Demuth: first, that *is* what you said. It's a direct quote.

      secondly, Immorality is a means to an end for one who does not believe in objective truth. It makes sense within your relativistic grid that *you* are the judge. But it assumes you are the center of your universe (morally speaking).

      For those of us who believe there is an Objective Truth (evangelical Christians, for example), our view of truth is subject to the actual, Objective Truth. And it's also the very reason our feet can be held to the fire for this hypocrisy: Jesus calls these politics born out of radical individualism out. Christians who affirm these policies either don't see how intimately tied Ayn Rand's politics are to her philosophical convictions or they don't really believe what they say they believe. And that's why Prothero is right to call us out here.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ruby

      Not quite. It comes down to the question of why save a baby in the gutter?

      August 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Ruby: yes it does. which is why I brought up the abortion debate.
      Who can quantify the value of life? It draws out your philosophical & metaphysical convictions.
      Again, Ayn Rand's political views are a direct overflow of her anti-Christian philosophical beliefs.

      August 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • TX Red

      @ Russ

      You're imposing your personal view concerning abortion in order to draw a parallel between that and the original scenario (baby in a gutter). Not everyone believes that a human life begins at conception and without that assumption the comparison doesn't work so well.

      August 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TX Red: yes, but that's the irony:
      The vast majority of evangelical Christians *do* believe abortion takes a life – and Ryan's analogy points out the deeply divergent self-understanding when it comes to pre-birth & post-birth.

      Again, Prothero is right here. If we evangelicals support Rand's system, it exposes both our hypocrisy & lack of self-understanding. As Jesus said, "no one can serve two masters. You can't serve both God & money."

      August 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Ryan

      @William Demuth I like the idea of "collective peer pressure". How about a website displaying those who don't put money into a collective (non governmental) fund for care for the elderly or poor? Or shamings on Facebook? That's at least more morale than compulsory payment for someone else's benefit.
      BTW- I'm not against helping the poor and elderly- not only do I do it with my taxes, I also make private donations of my own will. Just not proud of the compulsory help I make.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  10. Joshua Keel

    First of all get you scriptural passages correct. Jesus never said " the love of money the root of all evil", that was Paul, 1 Timothy 6:10. And make sure you use them in the right context.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Ognywogny

      Joshua Keel, though he missed the speaker, the context is perfect and speaks the Word of God into faithless, apostate, idolatrous republicanism.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Just the facts mam

      But, but, but, but.... The whole bible is the word of God. /*Sarcasm off

      August 16, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  11. Roast Chicken

    This article points out some interesting contradictions at first glance, but one thing that Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan definitely have in common is a general desire for limited government. Limited government has nothing do with one's opinions on religion, it's about the basic freedom of man. You can't have big government and remain free indefinitely – it's not possible.

    #2 mentions the love of money, but JC was talking about extreme greed and wealth that cause a man to totally forget about his higher calling to God. It wasn't meant to be a complete denunciation of profiteering in any manner period.

    #3 "Blessed are the poor" as long as they are faithful and respectful of God. It doesn't mean that bad morals and laziness from the poor are to be ignored and unconditionally glossed over. Jesus would not approve of willful dependence on government and taxpayers – no way. A man is supposed to give his best effort in his time here on earth out of respect for the Lord.

    #4 is quite absurd by suggesting that the kingdom of God is "collectivist." The KOG is so sophisticated and beyond a mortal's wildest dreams that we can't even begin to compare the concept to any type of human collectivism on earth. Collectivism on earth has been a universal failure that brings about poverty, suffering, economic underachievement, and abuse of power by the authorities running the schemes.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Ognywogny

      Keep telling yourself idolatrous lies. From one end to the other, the Bible has preferential response to the poor all through it. Those who refuse it are the 'lovers of money'.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • truism

      Isn't it getting a little tiresome when you hear people saying they want limited government yet, they want to foist their will on women as to what to do with their bodies.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  12. tom evans

    To the people that criticize Ayn Rand I have this question. Have you actually read her works or are your ideas simply the result of what you've been fed by the media? In her two most famous books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the heroes don't set out with the goal of becoming rich. Their goal is the pursuit of excellence and they will, in fact, sacrifice wealth rather than compromise their ideals. It's true that these characters don't care much about altruism but they also don't seek to benefit at someone else's expense. On the other hand the villains in these novels are people that strive for wealth and power at all cost and are devoid of ideals. They would be comparable to today's Wall St. bankers or Washington insiders. I've known more than a few liberals who have read Atlas Shrugged and came away feeling that there were a lot of worthwhile and compelling views being expressed. Unfortunately her stories are very upsetting to those who'd like to maintain the status quo so these people have depicted Ayn Rand in a very distorted and unfriendly light.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • MicheleRC

      THANK YOU Tom Evans for getting Ayn Rand right 🙂 This is a great rebuttal to those who never bother to read or consider her for themselves but just regurgitate the exaggerations that the media puts forth. Nice job.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • SAC

      Perhaps (or not) but since Christianity is based in altruism, someone choosing to follow the tenets of Christianity (or any other altruistic faith) would reject the so-called pursuit of "excellence." The only status quo that people of faith are choosing is the desire to live in a good and just world. What's upsetting is the desire of these seekers of excellence to steamroll and manipulate others in pursuit of their "ideals". Do "ideals" translate to "greed" (monetary or otherwise)? Hmmm.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • shraeve

      You are right, Tom. Ayn Rand's philosophy was above all about freedom, not wealth. In each of her main novels, one of her heroes says, "I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine". The critics of Ayn Rand conveniently forget the second phrase.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • TiredOfPaying

      I read them. In The Fountainhead, the architect designed the 'perfect' building and was forced to compromise on its perfection by the financier, simply because he wanted to corrupt the architect. The financier was ashamed that he had compromised his own morals to get rich and could not handle the fact that another could resist the temptations he failed to resist.
      Now, as a young adult, this idea appealed to me. I agreed that the higher standard was to stand by real Truth and Beauty. So when the architect blew up the corrupted building I applauded.

      Then I read Atlas Shrugged. There by virtue of his genius and hard work Rearden created a superior steel, yet was prevented from selling it because 'the other steel makers could not compete with it, and they deserved to make a living too.' As the demands to give away his life's work for free mounted, Rearden decided to deny his invention to the world, as they did not deserve it. Finally when he was expected to create steel without coal (the equalivalent of making bricks without straw from the bible) he quit entirely. John Gault's followers did things like created superior naval guns and began sinking all merchant shipping, destroying banking and copper mining industries, and allowing trains to crash because the poor or less 'worthy' didn't deserve to profit from their genius. That's when I rejected Ayn Rand.

      Today this is reflected in the 1%'ers, who think that all others should shut up and slave for the privledge of their genius. Sorry, but I can't accept that.

      August 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Just the facts mam

      Something else that people need to keep in mind is that Rand's work is that it was really a commentary on the communism she came up under. If you take it from that context, things make a little more sense.

      August 16, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  13. Questioner

    Why would anyone vote for a mormon, and Eddie Munster?

    August 15, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Mike

      Why would anyone take someone who doesn't understand the proper use of a comma seriously?

      August 15, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  14. Jordi Heguilor

    OK, if Ryan likes Thomas Aquinas, how about this: "For the active power in the seed of the male tends to produce something like itself, perfect in its masculinity, but the procreation of a female is the result either of the debility of the active power, of some usuitability of the material, or of some change effected by external influences, like the south wind, for example, which is damp".

    Summa Theologica, Ia 92

    August 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  15. Young Autistic Man

    I believed in Christianity and human individualism. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10) As human beings labored, many will faced great rewards in the real world. A slothful man profits nothing.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      oh that paul was quite the wit . . . does anyone know if he ever made fortune cookies?

      August 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Young Autistic Man

      @save the world and slap some sense into a christard today! Fortune cookie go back to the 19th century, moron.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      Young Autistic Man wrote:

      "@save the world and slap some sense into a christard today! Fortune cookie go back to the 19th century, moron."

      Nah – a moron is someone who believes in the angel moroni – that's definitely not me.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • todd in DC

      Save the world>>>

      I think Chris Maloni is an angel. Does that count?

      August 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Young Autistic Man

      "Moron: a person who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment". @save the world and slap some sense into a christard today! Apparently you are stupid and lack good judgment. Regardless of belief and non-beliefs.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      It was a play on words, but I guess you missed that – and I'm not surprised.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      @todd in dc: I had to google this Chris Maloni. seems like an angel. I'll have to add him to my list of ent*ities that warrant further inspection.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Young Autistic Man

      I know you were referring to Mormonism and I am also playing you.

      August 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      Ah, I see – OK, well since it's a game, I made a new fortune cookie fortune:

      "one should not be so serious when playing games – doing so will retard the mind, just as religion does"

      August 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  16. J. Davis, Knoxville, TN

    If Rush Limbaugh, Alan Greenspan, and Clarence Thomas are fans of this woman then people should run as far away as they can from Romney/Ryan. He does not share real Catholicism thinking! I'll bet all the people are Fox are advocates of this lady's ridiculous philosophy.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • V. Kay

      Most people miss the point on A. Rand.
      - We can learn from her, like any other writer/teacher/pundit, without agreeing....
      - She makes some very important points about personal responsibility and earning our own way,
      vs. getting a sleazebag government to enforce a fantasy of "equality".
      Get a grip, folks.

      August 15, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Sam

      It seems that all anyone in the GOP has learned from Rand is a way to rationalize their greed and avarice. How they do that while proclaiming to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ has got to be one of the slickest PR stunts I've ever seen.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Sam: yes, as an evangelical Christian, I'm embarrassed. This just highlights our hypocrisy.

      @ V.Kay: yes, we should learn from people with whom we disagree, but it's naive to think Ayn Rand's fundamental convictions (which are stridently anti-Christian) don't inform her views on personal responsibility.

      There's a reason the Bible talks about greed 10x as often as it does se.xual sin: it's more subtle. It's easier to rationalize.
      You know it if you've slept with someone other than your spouse, but almost everyone thinks: there's someone else greedier than me.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  17. bob

    The author misses the point... as do many, many others... The "greed is good" mantra given to conservatives must have been a deliberate Trojan Horse. It plays so easily into liberal narratives of abuse and corruption and it SHOULD. "Greed" is NOT good, "greed" is a neurotic compulsion to have EVERYTHING. Healthy, motivating "desire" IS good and DOES motivate people to work hard and advance themselves and society in the process WITHOUT the involuntary drive to break all societal rules that characterizes "greed". I cringe everytime I hear one of my conservative friends repeat this mantra. .... The author also misses another glaring contradiction: how on earth can "conservatives" who believe in the power of "capitalism" and "free-markets", individualism, etc., also profess faith in "Christianity" which, as the author points out, totally castigates every aspect of the "fiscal conservative" ideology. "Christianity" and "Fiscal Conservatism" are completely contradictory, even oxymoronic to the point that I don't dare try to point this out to my staunchly conservative AND deeply religious friends because there's no way to say it without implying the obvious: they're stupid.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • GethetruthW

      Thanks for pointing out this contradiction; the question is how does one get so screwed up in the head. ? Do these people think at all. Even stupid does not explain it. Brain washed, perhaps ?

      August 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • QS

      My theory is twofold: either they lie about caring about fiscal responsibility to cover up the fact that they really vote conservative because of the social issues – or they've been indoctrinated to believe the principles of conservatism are actually a good thing.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Dan, TX

      you make a decent point but you could be interpreted as being devoted to Adam Smith's "invisible hand" of the market. Of course there is an invisible hand to make the market work, but that invisible hand only works when laws and rules and regulations are present and enforced by the society. The invisible hand of the market only works in a socialist context. There is not market without socialism. Markets without socialism inevitably become dictatorships of those that control the resources. By socialism, I mean democracy.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  18. Freethinker Seeking Reason

    Wow, very interesting article. I pick option #3 – Reject BOTH Randism AND religious fundamentalism.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • bob

      I think you said what I said only more succinctly...

      August 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • J. Davis, Knoxville, TN

      So true. Christian fundamentalism is a very dangerous thing as well as the view that Ryan supports. I honestly don't understand how he could call himself a Roman Catholic.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  19. Brendan

    "Now that one of the Republican Party’s least ideological men (Mitt Romney) has christened one of the GOP’s most ideological men (Paul Ryan) as his running mate'
    lol @ you. Seriously? EVERY politician is ideological. It's how they get elected. You think Obama isn't "ideological?" What has he been moderate about? The only conservative actions he has taken have been in regards to dealing with terrorists.

    It's the same thing with them treating Romney's richness as his main weakness, as though Obama is just a working class guy who found his way into the White House from his job at Wal*Mart. It's pathetic that they think this will work and it's hilarious that this is the best that Democrats can do.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Brendan,

      Mitt Romney's 'ideology' is "tell me what will get me elected and I'll be for that".

      Ryan has articulated a personal ideology. That is Mr. Prothero's premise. I think it is a fair statement.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  20. El Flaco

    The Ayn Rand/Paul Ryan Code of Ethics:

    1. All for me and nothing for anyone else is my goal – or as close as I can come in one lifetime.

    2. Other people's welfare and happiness are not of interest to me. Others will either make themselves happy or they will suffer. If I can profit by making them suffer, I don’t care. Screw them.

    3. I have what I've got because I deserve it. I was not caught breaking any laws getting it. If I have to bribe a Congressman to change the laws so my methods become legal or bribe a judge to find me innocent, that is OK. You are innocent until found guilty. Legal is legal. Business is business.

    4. I have no obligation of any kind to my nation or any nation I do business with. During wartime, I will get a lucrative government contract if I can but my goal is to maximize profits, not help in the war effort.

    5. I have no obligation to my employees. They are on their own, just like I am. They get what they deserve from me or they wouldn’t work for me. Employees are a cost of doing business. The lower the cost, the better. If I can cut my employees’ pay and they don’t quit, then that means they deserve less.

    6. I have no obligation to my customers except to conduct business with them in a lawful way. If I can manipulate their thoughts with clever advertising, deceive them with clever small print in the contract, or give them less than they think they are getting, then good for me. Clever is clever. Business is business. I have an MBA and a staff of marketing experts, legal experts, economists, and accountants advising me. My customer has a high school diploma. If my customer wants to, she can hire her own panel of experts to advise her.

    7. I have no obligation to enhance the quality of life in my community, my state or my nation. I do not wish to pay any taxes but I do want the law to protect my interests and maximize my profits. I want the government to help me make more money in every way it can. I want good roads for my trucks to run on, but I really don't care about roads that my trucks do not use. I don’t want to be taxed for road building or repairs whether my trucks use them or not. I can pollute the air, ground, and water as much as is legally allowed. If I can bribe a congressman to write a law allowing me to pollute more, then I will pollute more; it cuts my costs. Legal is legal. Business is business

    8. It is often good business to subvert the democratic processes of my nation by bribing elected officials, bribing government regulators, running bogus candidates for office to split up the opposing vote, secretly running candidates for judgeships who I know will rule in my favor in an upcoming lawsuit, and secretly funding a lot of whackos out there to keep a lot of street theater going. Business is business.

    August 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Raymondo

      Glad you spent so much time on that inaccurate mess. Clearly you haven't read her books. Thankfully, I have a much easier job.

      1. I am a liberal, I think I'm smarter than everyone else, and I am a living cliche. And I like to spend other people's money.

      August 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Sam

      1. I am Raymondo. I am not only ignorant and selfish, but contemptuous of those who don't think like me so I stereotype them as moochers.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • QS

      "spending other people's money" – this is essentially conservative code for "mine, mine, mine".

      Not only disgustingly greedy and selfish, but quite childish as well.

      August 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
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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.