Category Archives: libertarianism

Interesting argument for the government recognizing same-sex marriage

Following the Supreme Court’s momentous ruling on government recognition of same-sex marriage this past Friday, offered an interesting line of reasoning from Jason Kuznicki of the Cato Institute.

At core, this argument should be interesting to conservative Christians as well as gays and lesbians — and everyone else — because it understands the issue of government recognition of a marriage in terms of the marriage’s fundamental nature, and that fundamental nature is the commitment between two people, not state or ecclesiastical sanction.

It’s also interesting to ask what, exactly, state or ecclesiastical sanction has contributed to the sanctity of marriage, now that the U.S. has arrived at a 50-percent divorce rate.

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say — NYMag

The p.c. style of politics has one serious, possibly fatal drawback: It is exhausting. Claims of victimhood that are useful within the left-wing subculture may alienate much of America. The movement’s dour puritanism can move people to outrage, but it may prove ill suited to the hopeful mood required of mass politics. Nor does it bode well for the movement’s longevity that many of its allies are worn out. “It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing,” confessed the progressive writer Freddie deBoer. “There are so many ways to step on a land mine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks.” — Jonathan Chait in Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say — NYMag.via Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say — NYMag.

‘America has harsher [religious] restrictions than roughly 130 other countries,’ says The Atlantic

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is the first line of the first amendment in the United States Constitution; religious freedom was clearly a legal priority of the men who drafted the Bill of Rights. Yet, 225 years later, the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project has said the United States places a “moderate” level of restrictions on religious practice compared to the other countries in the world. According to Pew, the U.S. saw a marked increase in hostility toward religion starting in 2009, and this level remained consistent in the following years.

So begins an article by Emma Green in The Atlantic entitled, “The U.S. Puts ‘Moderate’ restrictions on Religious Freedom.”

The chart with the article is fascinating, allowing an interactive look at changes in religious liberties — or losses of religious liberties — around the globe.

To me, it’s a reminder: In every corner of the United States today, the First Amendment is under attack, including ridiculous attacks on student and faculty speech on university campuses as well as federal government assaults on individual conscience.

You ought to seek the most liberty for everyone, even people you dislike and disagree-with. The alternative? Liberties that alternate with the fluctuations of political power.


The irrelevance of opposing a commencement speaker

You know what would be funny? If a group of people aligned with corporation-funded military interventionists got upset about a speech made by someone aligned with a different group of corporation-funded military interventionists! Pretty funny, if you think about. You know, if you actually stopped to think about it. “Hey! That’s not my brand of cola!” Or, “Hey! That’s not my brand of blue jeans!” Or maybe, “I wanted a Whopper, not a Big Mac!” Hard times, I tell you, hard times.

A libertarian defense of Miss California

From a post at The Humble Libertarian:

I would like for homosexuals and gay rights activists to extend to Carrie Prejean the same right that she affirmed they have, the right to choose. Is it intolerant for her to say she believes homosexuality is wrong? Should she keep her morality to herself? If you answered “yes” to both those questions, then you have accused her behavior of being wrong and you haven’t kept your morality to yourself. You’ve been intolerant by your own standards. You see, the essence of tolerance is disagreement. You disagree with someone, but you do not forcibly coerce them into acting according to your conclusions. You allow them to act according to theirs even if you disagree with them.

I think Miss California’s answer was a perfectly good summation of the proper attitude for someone like her (who has conservative sexual mores) to have. She said she thinks it’s great that people can choose, but she personally disagrees with some of their choices. Miss California summed up the essence of tolerance. It was an extremely tolerant answer to give. Unfortunately, it didn’t really answer the question. …

Read the full post here.

Statism as Theology, or why Envy is beating Greed at the polls

Doug Bandow’s book “The Politics of Envy: Statism as Theology” was written in 1994, but this following excerpt rings true on Election Day 2008:

Today we have to contend with an age of politics  that has not yet fully wound down. And that politics, in the United States, at least, has increasingly been based on envy, the desire not to produce more for onseself, but to take as much as possible from others. Of course, all of the proponents of the politics of envy proclaim themselves animated by public-spiritedness: who in Washington would admit that the higher taxes he advocates will be used to pay off the interest group of the day, whether farmer, coproration, or union? Who would suggest that he has anything but good will toward those who he is intent on mulcting?

Indeed, the problem of envy has always been much more serious than that of greed. Those who are greedy may ruin their own lives, but those who are envious contaminate the larger community by letting their covetousness interfere with their relations with others. Moreover, one can satisfy greed in innocuous, even positive ways — by being brighter, working harder, seeing new opportunities, and meeting the demands of others, for instance. In contrast, envy today is rarely satisfied without use of the state. True, some people pull a gun and heist the nearest person’s wallet or purse. But for the otherwise law-abiding, the only way to take what is someone else’s is to enlist one or more public officials to seize land, impose taxes, regulate activities, conscript labor, and so on. Statism, then, is integral to the politics of envy. Statism has become the basic theology for those committeed to using government to coercively create their preferred version of the virtuous society.

Lament for the lack of liturgical libertarians

The Pope is visiting during an election year, and that’s got me thinking about the relationship between politics and religion. A NPR reporter this morning said that the Pope and the President like each other, even though they disagree with each other on some issues, especially and most currently Iraq.

Consider that a Christian in politics will tend to err, if he’s on the right, by advocating state power for the enforcement of behavioral codes (moralistic laws); if he’s on the left, by advocating state power to force people to be compassionate with their money (tax code).

Why not have some Christians in politics who advocate freedom?

I think there’s space for Christians, especially those of the old liturgical traditions, to support libertarianism, even in this year of Obama versus McCain (OK, maybe Hillary still has a shot). Not that we can find a candidate representative of liturgical libertarianism.

Think about the ways in which New Testament teachings match up with libertarianism:

1. True morality comes from within, from a person’s character, when an individual has the opportunity to do wrong, yet chooses to do right. When someone cannot choose to do wrong, and therefore does not do wrong, that is no reflection of morality. Jesus criticized people who prided themselves on externally observable rules when their hearts were rotten. The rule-obeying was white-wash. In a related passage — and one that certainly suggests that liberty is a good thing — he condemns the Pharisess by saying, “They pile up back-breaking burdens and lay them on other men’s shoulders, yet they themselves will not raise a finger to move them.” I think of regulations, moralistic laws, and even taxes (reference Exodus 5:6-9 as an example of a state burdening people).

2. Libertarianism teaches that coercion is wrong, and the New Testament would seem to provide ample teaching for that view. In the New Testament, Paul writes that repentance comes from recognizing God’s kindness; God is not forcing people into conversion or submission. At one point in the Gospels, Jesus rebuked his disciples for wanting to call down fire on a city. Plus, we know the familiar phrases “turn the other cheek, bless those who persecute you,” etc., but how many apply that to a view of state power? (I don’t say that to nullify Thomas Aquinas’ just war theory; it seems to me that governments, from time to time, will have to use force to protect people from violent aggressors.) Consider that in terms of victimless crimes and the tax burden of imprisoning people who commit them.

Some will say, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” but can we really compare the U.S. to ancient Rome? Don’t you think the American people are supposed to be their own Caesar? “We the people,” democracy, and all that ought to de-centralize power, correct? The beneficiaries of de-centralization would be “we the people” in the U.S. For better or worse, we are Caesar. Or, maybe that’s too popular of a view. It’s probably better to say that we’re ruled by law, not by a king, and that the laws are formed within a representative democracy. We have a hand in creating our laws.

Of course, political libertarianism will be hard for many politically-active U.S. Christians to swallow, because whether they advocate state-enforced behavioral codes or state-enforced compassion, they believe the primary goal of the Christian faith is moral and ethical, so any means (including force) by which people will behave properly is good, when the actual goal of Christianity is for each individual to receive grace through faith, and then reflect grace to others.

No force involved, just freedom of conscience and freedom of expression.

-Colin Foote Burch

P.S. The Acton Institute has the right idea. Check out the Web site here.

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