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. Dave

    Ayn Rand thought the EMBRYO HAD NO RIGHTS.. she was also an atheist.. the republican right are just plain stupid and will use her points of view to further their selfish needs without understand what Rand was saying.. She also worshiped a serial killer CHARLES HICKMAN .. look him up ..

    June 30, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • buckup

      I did, bupkiss, nada. google: "CHARLES HICKMAN " "ayn rand" produces 31 hits. not to hard to dig through that list.

      I am not a fan of her or your BS. Got to wonder how many people believe your "worshiping facts" and not bother to call out your lies.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • Manley

      Dave is right about the killer. But his name was William Hickman and he was to be her inspiration for a book called The Little Street. In her journals she wrote about how she respected the fact that the man was not influenced by the desires of other men and wanted to create a character who was similar, but with a purpose. The problem, of course, is that the qualities she respected were the qualities that made Hickman a sociopath.

      June 30, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  2. Strong black

    Ayn Rand is a strict libertarian..........Jesus was a socialist........you figure it out.......if you deny it........ then you are blind

    June 30, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  3. 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."

    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."

    Looks like the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, the Apostles and the Christian et al filled A Rand's bill i.e. "that all real achievement comes from individual ability and effort".

    June 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  4. Ty Price

    Holy crap, the ideas of reality that Ayn Rand discovered is the only way we are going to make it! This is a simple choice of right vs wrong and reality is right and mysticism is undeniably wrong! It is a fundamental fight of freedom vs. slavery! Read this: 

    Unless there is a massive shift back to reality, which is liberty/freedom/capitalism and Individualism, we will remain on this course toward mystical destruction like we are on railroad tracks.  The fact that mystical socialists have for the most part destroyed public education to an extent never dreamed of by the mystical religionists, read this: and that has invaded all sciences and people, has left a huge portion of the populous unable or unwilling to think, read this:

    Then knowing that power is the problem. Read this:  And our rapid trend toward socialism. What happens when we become more socialist what is left, who has the largest and most organized power base. Organized religions!   And they ALL have the same base idea that started socialism, Altruism. http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/altruism.html And they all share the ideas from the same bad modern philosopher, who is directly responsible for there even being religion in this country or anywhere in the western  world...Immanuel Kant! http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/kant–immanuel.html 

    You can see in the tea party where their are 2 distinct groups the religionists and the students of objectivisim! Unfortunately the Religionists are vastly the majority now! Because of their belief instead of the process of finding actual knowledge, then faith with their adopted modern Philosophy (Kant) they are capable of and will always allow themselves to be lead. And In any direction!

    You add faith to that and you know the direction! A dictator does not care if it is religious or not he is after the power base and will do anything to get it, which of course is the problem. And that is not to mention the islamofacists who are already openly dedicated to a world religious fascists dictatorship. But their world is already falling apart as we see all over the middle east!

    Obviously this is way over simplified so to fully understand what I am saying and to understand Liberty/freedom/capitalism and individualism in context even better than the author of the article above then read this booklist and in order: 

    June 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Fly Guy in SJ

      Actually, rational selfishness dictates that I would want to give those around only only the minimum amount of education necessary, so that I can control and exploit them to the greatest extent possible, for my own self-interest.

      Religion, on the whole, seeks to educate people to the greatest extent possible. That's why I gave up on public schools (which are as fouled up as you say and getting worse) and sent my kids to a religious school. They are not only getting a *far* better academic education, they are also getting a far better moral education than can be had in a public school, where morality may not even be mentioned and there is little or no talk about ethics, either.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  5. Crack for the Right

    Jesus or Ayn Rand? Just say no!

    June 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  6. GodPot

    Ayn Rand Christians claim they want to keep their tax money so they can give charity to those they see fit. They do not want their money used for things they do not approve of like abortions or social programs, and they have every right to feel that way. And many liberals feel the same way about the military industrial complex and don't want to spend their taxes on more weapons, so as soon as we get to keep our taxes that get spent on the military you can have the taxes they spend on abortions.

    An Ayn Rand Christian is like an investor who loves the 20% return but occasionaly has moral objections with the w h o r e house he invested in.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Fly Guy in SJ

      @GodPot – I think that's a mis-characterization of "Ayn Rand Christians" – they won't invest in things that they morally object to, I think.

      WRT your point about the MIC, I'm a conservative Christian and am quite willing to see our military capability reduced to a level consistent with what the founders envisioned as our international role (that is, a military that is capable of defending the United States against any foe, including taking the fight to the enemy, not running around being the world's cop). I realize that this can't happen overnight; it would probably take 50 years to extricate ourselves from this position if we started right now, today. I support your desire for it, however. One part of reducing our ridiculously high tax rate has to be reducing the size of our military. We also need to live within our means (no more constant deficit spending; that should be for emergencies only, such as WW II), and the government should mostly or completely get out of the social programs business; that simply should not be a role of government. Charity can do that better and cheaper; always has, always will, and the huge amount of money government confiscates for that purpose is taken straight from the pocket of charity. If my tax bill were a lot lower, I could and would contribute far more to charity than I do now. I might even be able to really put my money where my mouth is and adopt a child who needs a loving home.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:03 am |
  7. Jim

    People say that if they didn't have such a huge tax burden (actually it is lower than it has been in almost 60 years but I will ignore that) they would donate more money to those in need. The reality is that tax reductions have no been followed by comparable increases in charitable giving. I don't judge people for not donating to charity but we should not pretend that we are doing something that we are not doing.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Fly Guy in SJ

      Of course they haven't. Surely you understand that tax deductions are not tax credits? If I got a tax *credit* for charitable donations, I assure you that I would max that out every year. So would a lot of other people. As it stands now, if I make a charitable contribution of $500, that reduces my taxable income by $500, which gets me back about 25% of that $500, and that's only if I'm better off itemizing than taking standard deduction (I'm not). As a standard deduction person, the whole $500 comes straight from my pocket, with no tax break. Make cash donations a tax credit instead of a deduction and you will see an astonishing upsurge in contributions. I don't contribute more because I can't. I live very frugally and do what I can. Let me donate to charity instead of "donating" to the government and I certainly will.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  8. Adam

    I would contend that, while Rand and Jesus approach life from very different contexts, their message is very similar. The context from which Jesus’s message is derived is that this life is a part of a greater, longer (eternal) existence. What we do here in this life will influence how the rest of our existence will be. Rand, on the other hand, was an atheist who believed that this life is what it is and that’s all that there is. Whatever you make of this life will be what you get out of it. With that in mind, let’s look at their messages.

    Different Christian faiths will give you different interpretations of Jesus’s overarching message. I believe the fundamental teaching Jesus shared wasn’t “Love Each Other”. Love is a fruit of a more fundamental principle; Jesus is trying to have us all attain Salvation. What exactly that Salvation consists of is another hot topic up for debate in the world of Christianity. However, regardless of who believes what about that, the fundamental belief is that you need to be saved. That is a very self-centered ideal.

    My understanding of Ayn Rand’s fundamental message is that one should live life to its fullest, whatever that may be. She may have an opinion regarding how that specifically should be done, but that is irrelevant to this discussion. Everyone has a different opinion regarding what “living life to its fullest” would consist of.

    So, as I said before, in spite of the context and the specific direction that either Jesus or Rand have been purported to have given, I believe they do have similar messages. Jesus’s might be colored differently than Rand’s (i.e. “Let me tell you how to be” versus “Let me tell you to not let anyone tell you how to be”), but in the end it’s really “Make the most of your life.”

    June 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Manley

      Please look into what objectivism is and what Ayn Rand stood for before you respond. Honestly, just read one of her books. If you really think her message boiled down to "carpe diem" then you should probably take another look at her work.

      June 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Taiping

      Manley is correct. You obviously have NO idea of what Rand really stands for. I can't stand Rand's hatefulness and I am an atheist!
      Rand is as close to evil and hateful as you can get in a capitalist world.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  9. WichitaThinker

    The teachings of Rand are very, very, very, very similar to those of Anton LaVey. The teachings of Anton LaVey are direct attacks on Christ's teachings. No, kids, you cannot follow the teachings of both Rand/LaVey and Christ.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      As I posted earlier...LaVey even admitted this, stating that: Satanism is, "just Ayn Rand's philosophies, with ritual and ceremony added." – Anton LaVey, founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan

      June 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • WichitaThinker


      I'm sorry, I did not read all the posts and did not intend to step on your toes. That's a great quote, and I had not heard of it myself. Rand and LaVey are, as LaVey apparently admitted, birds of a feather. Again, sorry if it seemed I had stolen your thought as my own as that was not my intent.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      Oh no, I wasn't being snarky. I think this point should be plastered all over the Internet. How someone can claim to be a Christian...while essentially being a practicing Satanist, and worshiping all of the things that Christianity is allegedly against (Greed, Pride, Covetousness, Selfishness, etc.), is beyond me. Objectivists should at least have the courage to say they're either Satanists or Atheists...I might even have a grudging respect for that kind of declaration. But "Christian Objectivism?" Not possible.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Jackie

      Ayn Rand does not believe in demons or in God. So to say she and Anton Lavey are very very very similar is an incorrect statement. While christians wish and pray she believed in thinking and acting.

      June 29, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Chook

      Ayn Rand worships raw power and greed. What else could you expect from someone who saw totalitarianism destroy her family using raw power and greed?
      She saw how effective greed and power can be. It is her ruthlessness that all these hateful nasty people love about her.

      I tell you, if she were world dictator, all the poor people would be shot in one long massacre without end.
      And all the wealthy people would have to fight amongst themselves even more until they became poor and thus worthy of being shot.
      She was insane despite her claim to reason. A psychopath who hated everyone without any compassion at all.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  10. Sean Ferguson

    I follow/worship Jesus but admire the book Ayn Rand wrote and it had a profound effect on me when I was like 20 years old. I understand what kind of person she was. However, as I recall she was very much against the proposition of "From each according to their abilities and to each according to their needs". That's socialism. You can't compare what she said in the book with what she said in interviews per se. She felt that those who were the captains of industry should leave the non-productive and ungrateful masses and hide themselves and their talents away in a secret mountain retreat. What I think she was reacting to at the time the book was written in the Great Depression was the direction of the new social order of welfare and handouts from the government. I know that's contrary to what she said in interviews but I think she was of two minds depending on if she was discussing herself personally or society in general. I have just ordered the book from Amazon so I can re-read it again to see if what I think I remember is actually what she wrote. Now at the age of 62 I may see it differently that I did at 20. However, I still say that regardless of what she may have meant what I took away was a major factor in the rest of my life.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Jim

      I am not sure why we can't compare her books to her interviews. I think it is more valid in determining what she intended the message of the book to be rather than assuming a meaning based on our reaction to the book. That reaction is the meaning we get out of it but may be entirely unrelated to the meaning she put in it.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Manley

      I'm not sure there is much room for interpretation in her books in the first place. Atlas Shrugged features a 70 page speech from John Galt outlining her philosophy. This wasn't an author with much concern for subtlety.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Pacific NW Mark

      I think it's Luke that says something like 'For to whom much is given, shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask more' (or words to that effect); JFK's version was 'to those whom much is given, much is required'.

      Neither are much different than the quote from Marx you cite. Personally I don't have much problem with the sentiment – from any of these three men.

      June 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  11. Roland

    It doesn't surprise me that so many Xtians uphold Rand as an icon. Most Xtians use the idea of god as a personal Santa Claus anyway. Give me this, give me that...a raise, a car, a better house, whatever. Ask them why the same "god" they pray to lets 1 billion people around the world starve every day and they'll tell you it's because those people aren't in god's will, they aren't following Jesus. Well, according to Jesus, if you want to follow him you have to sell everything you own and give the money to the poor. Find a Xtian willing to do that and I'll find you a flying unicorn.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • scoobers

      FYI what you're referring to is called the "propsperity gospel" and it's a false Christian teaching. It is actually a minority (and false!) belief/following however it appears to be much larger since 99% of the following are related to megachurches, which are essentially the only Christian programs on tv. It's really sad actually that people can so easily be deceived and believe in stuff that's not even mentioned in the Bible.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Sam L

      I find many Christians use God as a rationalization for their current situation and actions. If they are doing poorly it is because they are being tested. If they are doing well it is because they have God's favor. If others are doing poorly it is because they are sinners and if others are doing well, and profess a faith in Christianity, it is because God rewards the faithful.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • scoobers

      @Sam – I agree with you although I wish it wasn't so. It actually states that there will be both good & bad times in one's life (obviously) and that we can learn things in all scenarios, for that is God's plan.

      Just because someone stole my parking spot, or robbed me does not mean that God is against me, likewise just because I win the lottery doesn't mean God is for me so to speak.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Roland

      I'm not referring to the prosperity gospel. That's an even more ridiculous bunch of garbage.

      What is really sad to begin with is that people can so easily be deceived and believe in stuff that's mentioned in the Bible (or any other so-called "holy" book that purports to be inspired by this or that "god"), let alone what is embellished by any teaching's radical followers.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Scoobers.. what is difference between what you say and coincidence? There is none.. you have just been taught to think that a being is up there looking down on you...in more ways than one.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Brad

      Disagree. Just because Jesus said that to one man in the Bible doesn't mean it applies to me today in 2011. Jesus also said to be a good steward, which does not include raising taxes to pay for wars, abortions, and grossly inefficient payouts to people who had children they could not afford. The more money I get to keep, the more I can give to the needy as I see fit and as I deem worthy. I am an Ayn Rand Christian.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Sam L


      I love your expiration date on what God wants you to do.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      And Brad, you have the ability to understand who needs money most? Who is worthy? You are a god.

      I bet you have no concept of the cause to chaos in society, Try going here and begin a new life of knowledge. And if you are a real caring person, you'll do something about it. It's simply the root cause. ChildRescueBill.org

      June 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      Hey Brad, are you Joe the plumber? Joe made up his wealth too.

      Better yet, you'd make a wonderful dictator. It would be horrible for your people though.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  12. Russ

    "charity" = grace (it's the Greek word used in the New Testament; like Jn.1:17)
    Jesus' main message = dying for bad (selfish) people like me, giving me his "charity"

    Jesus: my "charity" is the only way I save you from your selfishness
    Ayn Rand: we were meant to be selfish. charity is not a virtue, but more of an obstacle to life lived to the fullest.

    You cannot follow both Ayn Rand & Jesus if you're talking about their main message.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Brad

      Disagree. I follow Jesus and Ayn Rand. There is a difference between following my self-interest and being greedy. I want to win in the marketplace and build wealth; this allows me to help over and over those whom I wish to help.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Chook

      So you have no problem with destroying other people's lives as long as you get the money so that you can keep it for yourself.
      Anyone like you who says they will help others with that money you are so greedy to get is just lying their ass off.

      You would have to use that money to help the people you screwed over! How insanely stupid can you get?
      But you don't think anyone deserves help, do you? So you will just hug your wealth to your chest like some greedy little thief and say that you just don't feel like helping anyone today. Yeah, I get you. You suck as a human being.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Russ

      @Brad: if you're a Christian, that's simply not a logical option. Jesus spoke directly to it:
      “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Mt.6:24)

      June 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  13. Bryon Morrigan

    Satanism is, "just Ayn Rand's philosophies, with ritual and ceremony added." - Anton LaVey, founder and High Priest of the Church of Satan

    June 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      I thought that was the pope..

      June 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Steve

      I ran into his daughter while shopping in Hollywood about 15 years ago. She was HOT, in a weird kind of way.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Zelda

      The Pope has Satan in his heart.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Normon

      @Bryon Morrigan
      Interesting, but wouldn't "Ayn Rand's philosophies, with ritual and ceremony added," actually go against Ayn Rand's philosophy?

      June 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Bryon Morrigan

      I'm neither a Christian, nor an Objectivist...but basically the point of that quote is that Satanism IS Objectivism. To be a "Christian Objectivist" is as oxymoronic as being a "Christian Satanist."

      June 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Normon

      Same here. I'm just saying that perhaps LeVey was taking liberties with Rand's philosophy and shouldn't be used as a trustworthy source.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • True Friend

      Above Zelda is a fake.

      June 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Zelda

      True Friend lies once again.

      June 29, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Artist-icu

      Could we please have an end to this constant hijacking of usernames and impersonating people?
      This is ridiculous. Go back to 4chan if you want lulz. We're trying to leave comments, not play "guess who wrote this"!

      June 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  14. Brandon

    Ayn Rand's basic flaw was an over reaction to crowd mentality. She didn't approve of Communism because she didn't like a crowd acting on behalf of someone else's best interest at the expense of their own. Her reaction to this was to assume that anytime a group acts they are doing so under the same conditions, therefore all group actions are bad. In actuality, groups often form and act on behalf of the best interest of the group. It is the process for determining the 'best interest of the group' that should be scrutinized not group action.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  15. Jamie

    The repugs have somehow hijacked christianity in america and injected this bitter old b****"s philosophy into it. Its not even christianity anymore. I call it the rethuglican kool-aid

    June 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Dave

      You got it right Jamie! Well said!

      June 30, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  16. Steve

    Ayn Rand writes of "heroes", and yet she fled communist Russia, something the despised, rather than stay and fight for freedom. During the McCarthy era, she testified willingly before the House Committee on Unamerican Activities in support of the oppression of American communists, a clear indication that she did not believe in free speech. She cheated on her husband and took up with a follower's husband, promoted him to head of her organization, and then denounced him as an Objectivist when he dumped her. She wrote her books while on drugs. One of her crushes was on a serial killer (who hacked up little children and sent the body parts to the police to taunt them).

    June 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  17. The good people, atheist and religious

    One thing we must agree on. The undercurrent of socialism is what makes this country great. In fact it has saved this country many times. Socialism enabled industry growth – our roads. Socialism enabled reducing diseases – our elders with SS and even Medicaid. Socialism is a cushion to help stop our fall in time of need, so that entrepreneurialism could take the front line. Taxing corporations and the wealthy does not destroy entrepreneurialism. No company ever created a product, it has always been people and, many times, from people who had nothing. Not because they paid less in taxes.

    However there exists the wannabe super wealthy, like the Rush Lim. And then the liars, as Joe the plumber.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the middle wealthy stopped manipulating you? The Rush Lims. They use you, you supporting them for their own personal gains. You talk of working hard for your money, they don’t have to work hard when you keep giving them more. Let’s get it right.

    Forget greed, go with the flow and make it happen.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Steve


      June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      In the 1970s, Britain pursued a socialist national agenda. The government took over all of the major industries. Like Barack Obama, Britain's leaders wanted to "spread the wealth around." Pretty soon the country was flat broke.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      No one said become socialistic, please read. BTW, nothing wrong with Obama protecting our taxpayer money with stocks from companies that borrowed the money. It just makes good business sense. Remember, Bush promised the money to them. Obama made them accountable for it.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • GodPot

      @Fidei – "Pretty soon the country was flat broke" And just what do you call $14 trillion in debt?

      June 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • MyMotoMike

      It's interesting to see someone stick up for socialism – and not conflating it with Communism.
      It's true that we have socialism in this country. To me, at least, the dialog is not "socialism bad, capitalism good", or "Taxes bad, profits good", or all of the rest of the polarized discussions that seem to be hard to get past; it's "since taxation is necessary unless you want anarchy, how much taxation is okay – and on whom, and directed where?", along with "what is the role of government in society to for the highest well-being of the greatest number?". Those are (to me) hard questions, but if we were able to debate them without resorting to ideology or slogans I think it would be more constructive than what goes on now. I'm just uncomfortable with a point of view that thinks that the answers are obvious.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Normon

      This probably sound argumentative, but it is an honest question.
      Is it not just the answers but even the questions that aren't obvious? I'm not sure this is a given, "since taxation is necessary unless you want anarchy..." And I don't think this is either, "what is the role of government in society to for the highest well-being of the greatest number"
      You have preconceptions even in your questions, but we all do.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • MyMotoMike

      @Norman –
      Thanks for the reply. It doesn't seem argumentative at all, and your point is well taken that the questions aren't that obvious.
      When I wrote "taxation is necessary unless you want anarchy" it's an oversimplification of what I see as the role of taxation in supporting a government; admittedly I'm making it a binary choice (no taxes = no government; no government = anarchy) which may not follow. But I'm not sure I can imagine a society without a government that has financial support through taxation.
      The question "what is the role of government in society to for the highest well-being of the greatest number" does indeed reflect my preconceptions – that a better society is reflected by the well-being of all. I honestly don't think that Ayn Rand shared that opinion (at her core), but I don't know how she would articulate her disagreement without disparaging that point of view, possibly describing it as Statist or collectivist. And I can see how it would lead to that opinion. But I don't think that her (possible) dismissal requires agreement – she had preconceptions in her writing herself.

      June 30, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  18. LauraJT

    Apparently you haven't read Atlas Shrugged and have no knowledge of Ayn Rand. She considered herself a champion of capitalism and would in no way say that unfettered capitalism "is comical and not sustainable". She believed that capitalism was the only moral political system and that it has never existed as it should; completely unfettered with no regulation on business in any way, shape or form.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • LauraJT

      This was posted as a reply to TheGarin; for some reason it posted on it's own.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Chook

      That's okay, you wrote a good post.
      I think unregulated capitalism is just anarchy with a monetary system. There is nothing to keep a dictatorship from ruling with an iron fist. Regulations are good and keep poison out of our food. These greed-heads want all poor people to die.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  19. MarcParella

    The realization of individual human potential comes from within, and recognizing your potential is very much a selfish endeavor. People who do not understand Rand do not appreciate her insight on what it takes for anyone of us to reach our potential. What a tragedy it is when a gifted child is not encouraged to develop his or her gifts, because those gifts, if developed might castigate the child from the rest of his or her peers. What a tragedy it is when we collectively dismiss the goals and aspirations of the entrepreneur, the artist, the writer, the thinker, because their world is more self-consuming than the simple bureaucratic policy wonk would have us believe. What do you say to person who believes in themselves and their potential, and knows full well that their success will depend on a life-long struggle of uncertainty. Rand is a hero of sorts in my house; just as Barry Goldwater and Robert Taft also championed the value of the individual to choose their own course and journey to the undiscovered country of limitless possibilities.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • MyMotoMike

      @MarcParell – I think that your post describes well some of the things that are attractive, even charismatic and inspiring about Ayn Rand and her writing.
      I would hope that you don't think that the posters here (like myself) that feel that her writing is flawed or incomplete in some way, or just that it hits them wrong in some way, don't merely suffer from a lack of appreciation for her insight. It may be that there are "people who do understand Rand" as well as you do and find something lacking or less than inspiring about her writing. I wonder if you think it is possible to understand her and still be repelled or at least put off by her ideas.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Chook

      What you appear to totally miss is the fact that your "rugged individualism" means that you have no support for your position using logic and rational thought.
      If I, with my individualism, think that you need to be murdered, then I kill you and my individualism succeeds but yours fails.
      Then your individualism is shown to be unworkable, sociopathic, and ridiculous.
      But I guess you'd be okay with me killing you in order that I succeed? Okay.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  20. TheGarin

    Ok, for starters, the author of this article is way off base from the beginning, and lets not kid ourselves that CNN will look for any way to shoot down something a conservative would like. If anything Rand was showing that while capitalism is good, unfettered capitalism is comical and not sustainable. I've heard the novel proclaimed (typically by people who haven't read it) as the "conservative bible", and we could do worse. But anyone who reads it as some proclamation that all regulation should fall away should take a trip to their high school english class and let the kids there teach you something...

    June 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • David

      Are suggesting that Ayn Rand's novels were a critique of unfettered capitalism?

      June 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Howie76

      Alan Greenspan a Libertarian and follower of this women went in front of Congress and basically said her belief in regard to economics was fundamentally flawed.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Manley

      Please point to any suggestion in any of Rands writings that calls for anything other than unfettered capitalism.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • The good people, atheist and religious

      The Garin, If you hadn't noticed – CNN is moderate. In fact as extreme anger you have because they are not deeply entrenched in conservatism, is the same anger the deepened liberals have.

      In fact this is why I come here. I do occasionally go to the other two media biases once in a while, to get extreme lib and con view.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Normon

      Not sure what you read, but Ayn Rand's philosophy, Rational Objectivism, and her books, Fountainhead, Anthem, etc., not just Atlas Shrugged, support rational self interest and unfettered capitalism.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Manley

      Perhaps you were reading The Godfather?

      June 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Jim

      Most people think Utopia is a description of a society idealized by Moore but most literary scholars say that historical evidence indicates it was a satirical critique of 16th century England. It shows an example of people misinterpreting the intent of a novel to fit their understanding of the world.

      You are heading in the opposite direction on this one. Ayn Rand has been in enough TV interviews discussing her beliefs that there is ample evidence that he was in no way critiquing unfettered capitalism. While she claims to be an atheist one could make a strong argument that her support of unrestrained capitalism was on the level of the most devoted theist. Redefining her work to explain holes in her logic may eventually happen but it will have to somehow discredit her own recorded words.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
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About this blog

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.